EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns

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6:01 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Trump says Scott Pruitt felt that he was a distraction

President Trump told reporters on Air Force One EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision to resign was “very much up to him."

“He did not want to be a distraction," Trump said. "And I think Scott felt like he was a distraction.”

 Trump said there was “no final straw," and said the decision had been in the works “a couple of days" and that they had been "talking about it for a little while."

The President continued:

“Scott Pruitt did an outstanding job inside of the EPA. We’ve gotten rid of record breaking regulations and it’s been really. You know, obviously the controversies with Scott but within the agency we were extremely happy. His deputy has been with me actually a long time. He was very much an early Trump supporter. He was with us on the campaign. He is a very environmental person. He’s a big believer, and he’s going to do a fantastic job.”

Trump said Pruitt will go on to do "great things and he’s going to have a wonderful life, I hope."

5:40 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Some of the times President Trump defended Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt was embroiled in one ethics controversy after the next.

And for months, President Trump defended his Environmental Protection Agency chief.

Amid the scandals, Trump repeatedly touted Pruitt's work, and his character.

"Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. We're setting records. Outside, he's being attacked by the press. I'm not saying he's blameless. But we'll see what happens," Trump said on June 8.

"I think he's a fantastic person," Trump said in April.

Watch more:

5:28 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Bernie Sanders: "Scott Pruitt was the worst EPA administrator"

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said Scott Pruitt was the worst Environmental Protection Agency chief ever.

In an interview with CNN, Sanders said he was concerned about Pruitt's views on climate change and the environment.

"I think this guy has done incalculable harm to environmental protection in this country," Sanders told CNN. "And he has also ethically challenged."

He said the EPA needs a leader who believes in climate change and will take steps to protect the environment.

Watch more:

5:11 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Republican senator says Pruitt lost the public's trust

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley released a statement today about Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's resignation.

In his statement, Grassley of Iowa said Trump made the "right decision" in accepting Pruitt's resignation.

He continued:

"Administrator Pruitt’s ethical scandals and his undermining of the President’s commitment to biofuels and Midwest farmers were distracting from the agency’s otherwise strong progress to free the nation of burdensome and harmful government regulations. Fewer things are more important for government officials than maintaining public trust. Administrator Pruitt, through his own actions, lost that trust. I hope acting administrator Wheeler views this as an opportunity to restore this Administration’s standing with farmers and the biofuels industry. I’m looking forward to working with acting administrator Wheeler to do just that.”
5:03 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Some GOP strategists say Pruitt's resignation is a relief

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Several GOP strategists said Scott Pruitt's resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency is a relief.

They said that President Trump's new Supreme Court nominee is going to be a major focus — and one that is good for them — for the next few months. Trump is expected to announce his pick in the coming days. Dragging Pruitt through congressional inquiries would take away from that, they added.

The strategists said they believe the White House can manage a smooth confirmation process for the nominee, and said they are now focused on that goal.

4:56 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

She confronted Scott Pruitt at a restaurant this week

From CNN's Annie Geng

Kristin Mink was having lunch with her son on Monday when she noticed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt with a colleague at Teaism in Penn Quarter and decided to confront him, child in tow.

She then urged him to "resign before your scandals push you out."

In a video of the encounter, Mink cites Pruitt's "slashing strong fuel standards for cars and trucks for the benefits of big corporations" and his "paying about 50 bucks a night to stay in a DC condo that's connected to an energy lobbying firm, while approving their dirty sands pipeline" as reasons for him to resign.

"We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children," Mink tells Pruitt in the video.

Today, Mink spoke to CNN about Pruitt's resignation.

She said initially felt "unrestrained glee" by the news "because that was what I wanted him to do and followed immediately of course by the realization that Trump now gets to appoints somebody else. And we see that it's Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist. So clearly the agenda is not going to be getting any better."

4:48 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

EPA staffers learned about Pruitt's resignation from Trump's tweet

From Rene Marsh and Jeremy Diamond:

Scott Pruitt’s resignation came as a surprise to many top level employees at the EPA, according to a source familiar with the matter. Top level EPA officials had been preparing for meetings with Pruitt this week, not knowing he’d be resigning today, the source said. 

Two other EPA officials said they had no idea Pruitt's resignation was coming today. Like the rest of the country, they found out from Trump's tweets, they said.

Another source, an agency employee, said many staff members and personnel found out from social media or friends. This employee said EPA staff have not received any correspondence or email resignation from Scott Pruitt announcing his departure. 


4:43 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

Read Scott Pruitt's resignation letter to President Trump

From CNN's Ryan Nobles

An EPA official has provided CNN a copy of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's resignation letter to President Trump.

In his letter, Pruitt said: "It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”

Read Pruitt's letter below:

"Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as Administrator of the EPA. Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your Administration. Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes as well as historical regulatory reform, is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.

That is why it is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as Administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6. It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.

                          Your Faithful Friend,

                          Scott Pruitt

4:31 p.m. ET, July 5, 2018

The EPA’s inspector general will continue investigating Pruitt

From CNN's Juana Summers and Sara Ganim

A spokesman for the EPA's Office of Inspector General told CNN that ongoing or pending reviews of Scott Pruitt will continue, even though he has resigned.

"Any ongoing or pending OIG reviews related to the Administrator and/or his team will continue—regardless of the administrator’s resignation," the spokesman said.

What we know about the investigation

  • The EPA inspector general is reviewing all of Pruitt's 2017 travel, which is expected to include multiple taxpayer-funded weekend trips that Pruitt took to Oklahoma, as well as official travel to Italy and Morocco.
  • The inspector general told Congress in a May 2018 letter that he expects the review will be completed by the end of September.
  • A different EPA inspector general review involves Pruitt's travel practices, suggesting that it will review Pruitt's use of his round-the-clock security detail, which travels with him even when off-duty on family vacations.

Both the EPA inspector general and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are reviewing an April 2017 meeting that Pruitt had with the National Mining Association regarding the Paris climate agreement, which critics said may have violated anti-lobbying laws