Speed Reads

Pruitt Watch

EPA chief Scott Pruitt is reportedly bunkered down, growing paranoid, and hanging on

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, facing 11 federal investigations just over a year into his tenure, "has grown paranoid and isolated, and he only trusts a small handful of people at the agency," Jonathan Swan reports at Axios, and even though President Trump "has been souring on Pruitt" as the scandals mount, he "survives because the one guy who matters in the White House won't fire him. Trump's draining supply of goodwill towards Pruitt is the EPA administrator's lifeline. Most everyone else in the building wants him gone."

Pruitt's top public affairs official, Liz Bowman, and senior press official John Konkus announced late last week that they are leaving, joining Pruitt's Superfund chief and security team leader Pasquale Perrotta out the door, in what "people with knowledge of the departures" tell The Hill is essentially "getting out of Dodge."

In the meantime, Pruitt's chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, rarely knows where Pruitt is and has been frozen out of Pruitt's inner circle, Axios says, which has shrunk to just five aides: spokesman Jahan Wilcox, Hayley Ford, Millan Hupp, Sarah Greenwalt, and Lincoln Ferguson. Only Wilcox is over 30, and Hupp, Greenwalt, and Ferguson came with Pruitt from Oklahoma; he gave huge raises to Greenwalt and Hupp, then rescinded them when they were made public. "All of us have been frozen out over time," one EPA political appointee told Swan. "It's absolutely unreal working here. Everyone's miserable. Nobody talks. It's a drywall prison."

Pruitt stopped sharing his travel schedule with anyone outside his inner circle, and he spent most of last week out of the office setting up a legal defense fund, Axios reports. But Pruitt's policy operation is apparently operating smoothly. If Pruitt is ousted, he would be replaced by Senate-confirmed deputy Andrew Wheeler, "a longtime Washington lobbyist who supports similar policies to Pruitt," Swan reports.