Speed Reads

Pruitt Watch

Paul Ryan just hasn't 'paid that close attention' to Scott Pruitt's ethics scandals

The only person who can fire scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, President Trump, appears to be sticking by his man, but Pruitt's list of defenders is growing smaller by the day.

On Wednesday, reliably pro-Trump Fox News host Laura Ingraham called for Pruitt's ouster, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of Pruitt's mentors, said he was almost there, too. After the latest in a long string of Pruitt scandals, this one involving using his official position to get his wife a job, National Review's editorial board said "we are now at a point where a good week for Pruitt sees only one report of behavior that is bizarre or venal." Trump's top aides have reportedly long wanted Pruitt gone. The conservative advocacy group American Future Fund even made an ad calling Pruitt a "swamp monster" and urging Trump to go full Apprentice and fire him.

Perhaps the one man in Washington with no opinion on Pruitt is House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The numerous headlines about Pruitt's first-class travel, unusually expensive security costs, scandalously cheap rent at a lobbyist's apartment, and other embarrassments have apparently escaped Ryan's attention, he suggested Thursday. "Frankly I haven't paid that close attention to" Pruitt's ethics issues, Ryan said, referring the inquiring reporter to the EPA oversight committee. He said he supports Pruitt's "regulatory position," but "I don't know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment."

If Ryan is concerned about a change in "regulatory position," he needn't be. Pruitt's most likely replacement is Deputy EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist.