Senior White House officials are growing pessimistic about the possibility of President Donald Trump firing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, despite a barrage of criticisms leveled against his ethical record.
The president does not appear to be changing his stance and is standing behind Pruitt, according to an ABC News report Thursday, citing senior officials. Pruitt has weathered months of media reports alleging he has misspent taxpayer money, among other allegations. ABC cited multiple senior officials in the report but only quoted one anonymous person.
“We’ve been looking into all the accusations but nevertheless Trump isn’t fazed … you would have thought after Chick-Fil-A that would have done it but he’s not going anywhere,” one official said on the condition of anonymity. The person was referring to an allegation that Pruitt tried to pull some strings with the CEO of Chick-Fil-A to secure a franchise for his wife, Marlyn.
Pruitt’s EPA scheduler told Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy in a May 2017 email that “the administrator asked me to reach out to you.” The staffer then scheduled a time when the agency chief and the CEO could “talk about a potential business opportunity.”
Pruitt has been the subject of many inquiries in the past regarding his flight records and purchase of expensive furniture. He racked up nearly $90,000 of in-flight expenses in June 2017 on a round-trip business-class flight to Italy that cost at least $7,000, according to CBS report in February.
Trump has maintained a tight allegiance with the embattled agency chief thus far. The president told reporters in April that Pruitt is doing “a fantastic job. I think he’s done an incredible job.” Trump doubled down on those comments in an April 8 tweet, telling his followers, “Scott is doing a great job!”
Career EPA officials have also noted with dismay the president’s unwillingness to budge on the issue. (RELATED: Media Take Aim At Trump’s EPA For Doing What Obama Used To Do With FOIAs)
“It definitely seems like there’s some backstabbing going on,” one political appointee, who joined the agency in 2017 after Pruitt became administrator, told Politico in April, noting the atmosphere at EPA headquarters. The person added: “Everybody is out for themselves right now.”
The atmosphere is like “a slow-motion train wreck at the moment,” one career official, who joined the EPA during the Obama-era, told Politico. “I was placing bets he’d (Pruitt) be out by the Fourth of July, but at this rate, he’ll be out by the end of the month,” another staffer said. (RELATED: Dems And EPA Insiders Are Freaking Out Over Trump’s Refusal To Nix Pruitt)
Pruitt’s ability to effectively administer Trump’s agenda might be one of the reasons he still has a job. He has successfully nixed the Clean Power Plan, convinced Trump to leave the Paris climate agreement, and more recently, crafted new, less-burdensome, greenhouse gas emission and mileage standards for vehicles to be built in 2022 through 2025. Pruitt has almost single-handedly decommissioned former President Barack Obama’s entire environmental agenda.
Pruitt moved to undo, delay or block, more than 30 environmental regulations during the first few months of his tenure, which began in January 2017. The rollbacks were more than any other administrator in the agency’s 47-year history over such a short period of time, according to a February 2017 report from The New York Times.
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