Pruitt: Why Trump is defending him
Scott Pruitt serves as a vivid example of “the swamp” President Trump promised to drain, said Michael Dobie in Newsday. The arrogant Environmental Protection Agency chief has squandered taxpayer money with a sense of entitlement that is off the charts even for Washington. Last week we discovered Pruitt has demoted or reassigned several EPA officials who dared question his exorbitant spending, which includes $3 million on a 20-member security detail worthy of a president, more than $100,000 for first-class air travel, and $43,000 to install a soundproof phone booth in his office. Pruitt insists his motorcade use flashing lights and sirens, even when he goes to his favorite French restaurant. Pruitt’s “blatant personal corruption” is beyond parody, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. This so-called environmental regulator rented a Washington condo from an energy lobbyist couple for the below-market rate of $50 a night, and gave massive raises to two aides despite a firm “no” from the White House. Yet amid an avalanche of damning evidence, Trump last week actually praised Pruitt for doing “a fantastic” job. What gives?
Pruitt’s “supposedly grave ethics offenses” are actually relatively minor, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. His security bill is large because he gets death threats. As for the lobbyists’ condo, that arrangement has been reviewed and approved by the EPA’s “career ethics official.” Pruitt’s only crime is “being effective,” said Mollie Hemingway in TheFederalist.com. He has been successfully working to scrap Obama-era regulations that strangle industry, and shepherded the U.S. out of the “uneven and horribly negotiated Paris climate accord” that liberals revere. Trump shouldn’t bow to this “coordinated attempt” by the Left to oust his “most effective Cabinet secretary.”
But “any Republican apparatchik” could pursue the same policy goals as Pruitt, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. His sole agenda is to let oil, gas, coal, and chemical companies do whatever they want. Rather than stick with someone so “politically weakened,” Trump should just replace him with someone else who “hews to the party line.” Actually, confirming a new EPA chief “might be impossible,” said Burgess Everett and Anthony Adragna in Politico.com. Republicans have a “shrunken” Senate majority and a backlog of “dicey” confirmation hearings for other vacant Cabinet jobs. GOP leaders are “tired of defending Pruitt,” but it’s easier than replacing him.