Trump offers support to EPA head Scott Pruitt amid ethics scrutiny

Wednesday, 04 Apr, 2018

Some conservative groups are pressing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to get rid of the waiver that allows California to set its own rules.

Since he was confirmed to the job last February, Pruitt has taken an aggressive approach to rolling back Obama-era regulations, most recently this week's announcement that he would revise fuel efficiency rules created to cut back on emissions of greenhouse gases.

Pruitt has spent the majority of his tenure meeting with industry executives, a fact that was driven home last week when we learned that Pruitt is quite literally in bed with special interests in that he regularly bunks in a lobbyist's Washington townhouse-located in a neighborhood where other units have rented for $5,000 a month-for just 50 bucks a night.

The EPA's senior ethics counsel, Justina Fugh, on Friday described the deal as "a routine business transaction and permissible even if from a personal friend".

Millan Hupp, an aide to embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, assisted past year in a search for housing options for Pruitt and his wife, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has said the arrangement was not a gift and the lease was "consistent with federal ethics regulations".

Walter Shaub, who ran the U.S. Office of Government Ethics until resigning past year, tweeted that EPA's legal justification of Pruitt's living arrangements was "Total Baloney".

Current greenhouse gas regulations, which went into effect shortly before President Trump took office, require automakers to roughly double fuel economy to more than fifty miles per gallon.

The former Oklahoma Attorney General has always been a strong critic of the EPA before joining the agency, and has called for many regulations to be scrapped.

Meanwhile, two Republicans representing left-leaning South Florida districts, Reps.

On Monday, Politico reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was considering firing Mr Pruitt.

"This President has had tremendous courage in saying to the American people that America is going to be put first", Pruitt said.

"I don't know how you survive this one", former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.

In one instance, Pruitt is also now suggesting tacking on additional import restrictions onto a review of fuel efficiency regulations as a way to strengthen Trump's aggressive stance on tariffs and trade, according to a White House official familiar with recent discussions between the administration and the EPA.

Around the same time, Hupp became a "financial and political consultant" for Pruitt's two private fundraising vehicles, Liberty 2.0 Super PAC and Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC.

In that letter, the Democrats ask the inspector general's office to look into discrepancies between the agency's ethics statement and other reports. Sydney Hupp spent four months past year as an "executive scheduler" for Pruitt, according to her LinkedIn profile. And though so far the White House claims to be totally behind Pruitt telling reporters. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, two vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016, joined almost every Republican in voting to approve Pruitt's nomination.

This article has been updated with comment from the EPA and Ros-Lehtinen.