President Donald Trump wants everyone to know he isn’t being swayed by the scandals increasingly engulfing Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt. The official who has been under fire for his excessive spending and possible ethics violations is doing a “great job,” Trump tweeted on Saturday night. The president took to Twitter to defend Pruitt on the day that an Associated Press report revealed the EPA chief’s concerns about his own security have cost taxpayers some $3 million, when pay is added to travel expenses.
Trump seems to buy the message the EPA has pushed all along: Pruitt needs more security because of the increased number of death threats. “While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” Trump wrote. What about the $50-a-night bedroom that Pruitt rented from a lobbyist? “About market rate,” ruled Trump. (The Washington Post talked to realtors who say the most bizarre thing about the agreement was that Pruitt only paid for the days he actually occupied the room.) And how about all the claims of expensive first class travel? “Travel expenses OK,” wrote Trump.
Trump’s tweets make clear that he is siding with Pruitt’s allies who have said the EPA chief has made great progress in pushing the president’s agenda forward. The president’s support comes amid a campaign by prominent conservatives to come to Pruitt’s defense. But that doesn’t mean the pressure is suddenly off. The House of Representatives Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy has started to look into Pruitt’s room rental.
Pruitt came under mild criticism from a few Republicans on Sunday. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, said that “it doesn’t look good” but he still praised his actions as head of the EPA. “I think he’s done a good job, but I’m looking to see what the oversight committee is going to say,” Graham said on ABC’s This Week. Republican Sen. Joe Kennedy said on CBS’ Face the Nation that Pruitt should stand up to the press and explain his actions. “I would do a full blown press conference and say ‘Okay here are your criticisms. That’s fair. I’m going to stop doing it. Here’s what I think is not fair,’” Kennedy said.