Trump Resists Mounting Pressure To Fire Scandal-Struck EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt faced questions about his lease and two big raises that went through for EPA staff members close to him

Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt faced questions about his lease and two big raises that went through for EPA staff members close to him

But Trump, who is personally fond of Pruitt and sees him as a crucial ally in his effort to roll back environmental rules, has resisted firing him, disregarding warnings that the drumbeat of negative headlines about the administrator has grown unsustainable, and that more embarrassing revelations could surface.

The prior head of Pruitt's security detail, Eric Weese, was demoted a year ago after he refused Pruitt's demand to use the lights and sirens on his government-owned SUV to get him through Washington traffic to the airport and dinner reservations. The EPA chief's spending habits are starting to sustain a fever pitch of interest. But two other officials said the praise had to do with Pruitt's work and not the ethical cloud surrounding him _ and that Kelly took a far sterner tone with Pruitt than initially reported, warning that the EPA job was in jeopardy if he couldn't put an end to the distracting coverage.

At least five EPA officials were placed on leave, reassigned or demoted after pushing back against spending requests such as a $100,000-a-month private jet membership, a bulletproof vehicle and $70,000 for furniture such as a bulletproof desk for the armed security officer always stationed inside the administrator's office suite.

Buffeted by current questions over his spending and administration on the EPA, Administrator Scott Pruitt has thus far maintained the general public assist of the one one that determines his destiny, President Donald Trump.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that Pruitt has done "an incredible job".

Pruitt quickly moved to change things. Axed was the career staff member who had previously been in charge of the smaller, part-time security detail.

Pruitt's predecessor, Gina McCarthy, had a security detail that numbered about a half dozen, less than a third the size of Pruitt's.

Private Italian security guards hired by Perrotta helped arrange an expansive motorcade for Pruitt and his entourage, according to the EPA official with direct knowledge of the trip.

The EPA official who spoke to AP said Perrotta also arranged the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth for Pruitt's office.

How much does a 24-hour security detail for one of the nation's top bureaucrats cost?

But though all four of Colorado's Republican members of the House of Representatives are also members of the caucus, none of them provided statements to support Pruitt in a release sent by the caucus.

That report also notes that during Pruitt's one year-and-one-half-month tenure as EPA administrator, his detail has accumulated almost $3 million in total security costs.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said late Friday that Pruitt has faced an "unprecedented" amount of death threats against him and his family. He's spent the past few weeks explaining away Pruitt's use of premium airfare and high-priced hotels and responding to congressional inquiries. They love Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt's domestic and worldwide travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000.

And in February, Pruitt drew criticism after it was revealed he and his aides spent more than $90,000 for trips in early June and another $15,000 to fly home during the weekends to Oklahoma between March and May of 2017. But when he does, he flies coach, according to Politico's Emily Holden and the AP's Michael Biesecker.

And previous year, Pruitt drew fire after he ordered a private plane from Denver to Durango and turned down an offer to ride on Gov. John Hickenlooper's state plane on a trip to the Gold King Mine that also included Bennet and several other members of Congress from Colorado.

"We have serious concerns that Mr. Pruitt may have misused his position as EPA Administrator to improperly enrich himself or his family members through this preferential and unique housing arrangement", the letter said.

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