President Donald Trump said he still has confidence in Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt despite the reported advice of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that he should resign.
Until this point, it has been Pruitt who has been taking the lumps for the special deal that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump is not "okay" with. One trip to Morocco a year ago cost $40,000. A memo stated Pruitt paid $50 a night to stay in the condo.
It's another Fireday Friday at The White House.
"We all serve at the pleasure of the president", Hogan Gidley told reporters Thursday. "But again, we take this seriously, we're looking into it and we'll let you know when we finish". But in recent weeks, a steady string of reports has painted a broader picture of a public servant with close financial ties to the industries he regulates and a desire to reward political appointees at the agency he runs.
Publicly, however, the president went out of his way to praise Pruitt.
"I think he's done a fantastic job".
Whereas, EPA career officials, Reginald E. Allen and Eric Weese, were made to move jobs of lesser influence, where they had limited contact with Pruitt.
In the tweet, Trump wrote that Pruitt is "doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege".
Mentioned as possible successors are Matt Mead, Wyoming's two-term Republican governor, and Russell Harding, former director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Meanwhile, the EPA inspector general has widened its investigation into travel and security expenses multiple times, and the audit now includes the administrator's trip to Morocco.
John C. Martin, a member of Pruitt's security detail was also fired after questioning the way Pruitt was handling his security team. "I prosecute polluters. What I'm spending time with are stakeholders who care about outcomes", he said.
Despite Trump's current backing, it's unclear whether Pruitt will survive the storm. "It's a decision that he'll make".
On Pruitt's lease, a copy of which was reviewed by AP, Steven Hart's name was originally typed in as "landlord" but was scratched out.
The bulletproof security desk was not purchased, but two new desks were ordered for Mr. Pruitt's personal office: a brown maple wood stand-up desk, with brass locks, that was purchased from a craftsman and an oversize desk with ornate woodworking that had been in a federal government warehouse in Virginia and was refurbished for Mr. Pruitt at a cost of $2,075.
Chmielewski and Allen declined to comment. Reeder is the husband of a Washington Post reporter, Carol Leonnig.
Politico reported that Pruitt also got behind on his rental payments at times. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox disputed the demoting allegations Thursday and said in a statement: "This is a group of disgruntled employees who have either been dismissed or reassigned". In his Fox interview, Pruitt paints a picture of nearly complete ignorance.
Pruitt spoke in a series of interviews with Fox News and other conservative media outlets in an attempt to shore up his eroding position in an administration that has seen other top officials depart after ethical missteps.
PRUITT: And maybe - there will be some accountability for that. In a combative Fox News interview, Pruitt said he didn't approve the raises and doesn't know who did. Minoli described that as "a reasonable market value".
That doesn't make the WSJ report "fake news", though. "We're reviewing the situation". Pruitt, on the other hand, aligns completely with Trump on EPA policy, and has been enthusiastic about enacting the Trump agenda.
When asked if Pruitt should resign, Katko, R-Camillus, said "he's getting bad close". "I was just too credulous", Fugh said Thursday.
The condo is co-owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of Steven hart, a prominent fossil-fuels lobbyist.