Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on Sunday offered a simple solution for the “chucklehead” Environmental Protection Agency chief to avoid the scandal that has plagued his office in recent weeks.
“If you don’t need to fly first class, don’t,” Kennedy said of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s penchant for pricey travel Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Don’t turn on the siren on your SUV just to watch people move over, you represent the President of the United States. All of this behavior is juvenile, it’s distracting from the business that we’re trying to do for the American people.”
Kennedy offered Pruitt some advice — “stop acting like a chucklehead, stop the unforced error, stop leading with your chin” — but stopped short of suggesting Pruitt should resign, offering that that decision is “up to the President.”
“I know what I would do if I were Mr. Pruitt, I would call a press conference tomorrow and I would say, ‘Okay let’s talk about your criticisms of me,’” he said. “I would do a full blown press conference and say ‘Okay here are your criticisms. That’s fair. I’m going to stop doing it. Here’s what I think is not fair.’ But, but these people are hurting the President and I’m not saying he’s not a good person. But — but the appearance of impropriety matters. And you can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
Kennedy also argued that “some” of the attacks on Pruitt are politically motivated, but “all of it isn’t,” specifically calling out Pruitt for reportedly renting a room in a house owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 a night last year.
“Why do you want — in his position — why do you want to rent an apartment from a lobbyist for God’s sake?” he said. “There are a lot of problems we can’t solve. But you can behave. I’m not, I don’t mean to denigrate Mr. Pruitt, but doggone it he represents the President of the United States and it is hurting his boss and it needs to stop.”
Pruitt has faced widespread scrutiny for his housing last year, his reported use of round-the-clock security agents — who he claims he needs because he’s faced unprecedented threats, like people yelling curse words at him in public — and his excessive spending on ventures like first class flights and a sound proof phone booth.
Pruitt has also been lambasted for reportedly requesting the use of sirens to get through D.C. traffic and defying the White House in order to give two close aides a significant raise.
While four Republicans have now called for Pruitt’s resignation, President Donald Trump last week tweeted about Pruitt, indicating the embattled EPA chief was secure in his position and praising Pruitt for his work in rolling back environmental regulations.
Watch a video of Kennedy’s comments below: