The Slatest

Scott Pruitt Allegedly Made His Security Staff Help Him Find High-End Hand Lotion. Why Hasn’t He Been Fired?

Pruitt gestures with his right hand as it is filled by a giant photoshopped bottle of lotion.
Scott Pruitt testifies to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Dec. 7, 2017.
Pete Marovich/Getty Images

EPA director and incredibly prolific scandal generator Scott Pruitt is again back in the headlines, after having been out of them for about five minutes, for another alleged act of hilariously petty corruption:

While EPA security agents are required to protect Pruitt at all times—while he is working and during his off hours—two individuals said the administrator had asked members of the detail to perform tasks that go beyond their primary function. In one instance, they said, he directed agents to drive him to multiple locations in search of a particular lotion on offer at Ritz-Carlton hotels.

That passage (which I edited slightly for clarity) is from the Washington Post, which also says that Pruitt asked his security team to perform the much more conventional abuse-of-an-administrative-assistant task of picking up dry cleaning.

Amazingly, there have been no indications in published reports that Pruitt is in danger of getting fired for any of his many scandals—and though this White House does maintain a general air of unaccountability, other administration figures such as Michael Flynn, Tom Price, Rob Porter, and Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci have been pushed out after generating bad press. Why does Pruitt remain? Among the theories the Slate staff has generated :

• Trump is still ultimately planning to fire attorney general Jeff Sessions and replace him with Pruitt, who was the attorney general of Oklahoma and who Trump (presumably) sees as more loyal to him than Sessions.
• Trump has seized on “deregulation” as one of his administration’s main accomplishments and sees Pruitt’s continued presence as a net positive. (Compare that with Price, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, who was involved in the failed effort to repeal Obamacare).
• Trump approves of and relates to Pruitt’s (alleged) graft style—in which public business is mixed indiscriminately with family business and the pursuit of perks and luxuries—on a personal level.
• Trump is not particularly personally implicated by Pruitt’s misbehavior (as he was by Flynn’s secret transition-period phone conversation about Russia sanctions).

Another potential reason is that there’s no Pruitt rival in Trump’s camp trying to get him fired (like there was for Mooch and Porter)—though, if there was, leaking a series of stories about things like inappropriate requests for high-end hand lotion would be a good way to do it.