Scott Pruitt Finally Resigns
WASHINGTON, DC – July 6, 2018
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who was involved in numerous scandals regarding his personal spending and conduct while in office.
“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” tweeted the president.
Trump said Pruitt's deputy, a former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, would take over Monday as acting head of the agency.
"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda," Trump tweeted.
Pruitt’s resignation is welcome news for those who saw him as flouting the most basic ethical standards of public service while in office.
Scandals accompanied Pruitt throughout his career. Lawmakers from both parties, environmental groups and government watchdogs pointed out that by the time of his resignation, he faced more than a dozen inquiries or reviews in regard to his actions while in office, including first-class plane travel, expensive hotel rooms, and the installation of a soundproof booth in his office.
Pruitt quickly lost the confidence of many EPA appointees, but even those eager to see him go had begun to lose hope that he would resign or be pushed out by the President. Despite controversies, Trump has always expressed his full and unconditional support for his environment chief as one of the most effective implementers of the President's agenda.
On June 8, Trump praised Pruitt, telling reporters on the South Lawn of the White House that the EPA administrator was "doing a great job within the walls of the EPA," and that "we're setting records."
"Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press. I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens," Trump said then, refusing to answer a reporter who asked if Trump was "tired' of Pruitt.
On Air Force One en route to Montana on Thursday, Trump again voiced support for Pruitt, saying that the allegations against him were not sufficient to warrant dismissal, but that he would accept the resignation, as Pruitt believed the scandals had become a distraction.
"There was no final straw," Trump said. "Scott is a terrific guy. He came to me and he said, 'Look, I have such great confidence in the administration. I don't want to be a distraction.' "
Pruitt's celebrity status—which kept him installed at the EPA through an unprecedented spree of outrageous impropriety—was built on the myth that he is a highly skilled and unusually effective deregulator. He has been praised for being an excellent manager and well versed in marketing. He promoted himself and built his reputation throughout his career with help from the media, politicians and well-known political tech-firms, but in reality his positive qualities have been comically overblown.
Pruitt rose to prominence by suing the federal government in his capacity as Oklahoma Attorney General in order to block Obama-era environmental protections. Pruitt himself, however, didn’t do much work in regards to these lawsuits. Instead, he frequently let lawyers for the oil, coal, and gas industries fight his battles for him, even allowing them to ghostwrite his complaints. He also simply attached his name to work produced by a coalition of Republicans, such as former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his successor Ken Paxton. Pruitt was able receive credit without actually taking the lead while building his status as a conservative celebrity.
Pruitt is the fifth member of Trump's cabinet to resign or be fired since he took office. The others were former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin.