Pruitt blames everyone but himself for EPA controversies

Pruitt blames everyone but himself for EPA controversies”

"Much of what has been targeted toward me and my team has been half-truth or, at best, stories so twisted they do not resemble reality".

Numerous reports are "half truths" and "twisted stories" and are coming from sources who "want to derail the president's agenda", he added.

Pruitt's troubles began in earnest last month, when ABC News first reported he had leased a Capitol Hill condo a year ago for just $50 a night that was co-owned by the wife of a veteran fossil fuels lobbyist whose firm had sought regulatory rollbacks from EPA.

In a contentious Capitol Hill hearing Thursday that lasted more than three and a half hours, Pruitt characterized the relentless criticism - some of it from his own party - as a politically motivated assault by individuals and groups unhappy with his work to aggressively undo regulations President Trump has said obstruct economic growth. However, Pruitt maintained that he was "not aware" of the amounts, or that he was bypassing certain procedures. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a statement that requested to "review and investigate the process by which ethics advice and determinations are provided to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and other EPA appointees by agency ethics officials and other legal advisors".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a news conference this week that he is still a Pruitt supporter but signaled that the EPA head's Hill performance could determine if that support continued.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) was one of the few Republicans to confront Pruitt about his spending habits.

Asked whether he's anxious about Pruitt's future, Smith said, "No, he's doing a great job, I think".

While Congress grilled him hard, Pruitt came prepared.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was evaluating the allegations against Pruitt.

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"I'm concerned that the progress being made on the policy front is being undercut by allegations about your management of the agency and use of its resources", said Republican Rep. Greg Walden.

"I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday", was his don't-look-at-me answer on April 4.

The records obtained by congressional Democrats were described in a letter Monday to the Republican chairman of a House oversight committee investigating ethical issues swirling around the embattled EPA administrator.

But one line of Pruitt's testimony could be scrutinized by Democrats who are expected to focus their questions on the swirl of controversy.

The Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency, concluded last week that Mr. Pruitt broke the law with a purchase of a $43,000 secure telephone booth for his office. During the morning hearing before the House environment subcommittee, Lance said installation of the phone booth was unnecessary, given that the EPA headquarters building has two other sensitive compartmented information facilities, or SCIFs.

Pruitt said he did so at the recommendation of his security detail. The evidence is clear: we do not have that awareness in an EPA run by Scott Pruitt.

In one wonderful exchange, Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) accused Democrats of engaging in "McCarthyism" with their attacks on Pruitt's spending. The EPA inspector general is looking into his frequent taxpayer-funding trips to Oklahoma, his home state.

The Democrats' letter describes a February 2017 email about the bug sweep dated just days after Pruitt's confirmation. Pruitt defended the actions he's taken thus far, claiming that the EPA under his leadership has been axing "burdensome costs" from the economy at an "unprecedented pace". But Pruitt contradicted his earlier public assertion that he had no idea the raises were granted until the media reported on them. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Ohio, said that it's "shameful" that the hearing had turned into a "personal attack" against Pruitt, while Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said that Pruitt is not the "first person to be a victim" of Washington politics.

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