Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, facing additional reporting about his many controversies, is “inching forward to the tipping point,” a senior administration official said.
The official, describing the feeling within the administration towards Pruitt, wondered whether the EPA administrator would still hold his job as he could crop up in Democratic candidates’ ads hitting President Donald Trump’s “swamp.”
Ultimately, the decision is with Trump.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters on Tuesday that Trump is looking into the “numerous reports” about Pruitt.
“The President feels as though Scott Pruitt has done a really good job with deregulating the government, to allow for a thriving economy, that’s important to him, but these things matter to the President as well, and he’s looking into those,” Gidley said. “When we have an announcement, we’ll make it.”
Trump said in early June that Pruitt was “doing a great job within the walls of the EPA,” while acknowledging his EPA chief’s mounting controversies.
“I mean, we’re setting records,” Trump said. “Outside, he’s being attacked very viciously by the press. I’m not saying that he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens.”
But the remark from the administration official underscores growing concern about Pruitt as recent reporting highlights accounts from aides about his conduct and use of aides for personal errands.
Kevin Chmielewski, former deputy chief of staff for operations, is expected to testify before Congress and told CNN that Pruitt and his aides used “secret” calendars and schedules to hide his contacts with industry representatives and others.
Pruitt’s former top policy adviser Samantha Dravis met with the House Oversight Committee last week, and The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that Dravis told congressional investigators that Pruitt asked her to reach the Republican Attorneys General Association about a job for his wife. Both papers wrote that Dravis said she declined the request, citing concerns about violating The Hatch Act.
And CNN reported Tuesday that Pruitt had previously approached Trump in the Oval Office, asked Trump to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and offered to replace Sessions as head of the Justice Department on a temporary basis.
The latest headlines compound an already serious situation for Pruitt, who has faced a series of inquiries from Congress, the EPA’s inspector general and outside watchdog groups. Questions have swirled for much of his tenure about his security detail, his use of official resources for personal ends and his renting of a room in Washington for $50 a night from a lobbyist couple.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Veronica Stracqualursi, Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin contributed to this report.