Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt survived months of reports on his unethical behavior by lavishing praise on President Donald Trump and making himself a visible figure in the West Wing, The Washington Post reported Thursday evening.
Pruitt mechanically praised the President, calling him “brilliant” and a “political revolutionary,” in the Post’s words. The two men bonded over their shared paranoia, regularly grousing about the “deep state” and former aides who they thought collaborated to upend their agenda, according to White House officials familiar with the meetings who spoke to the Post.
Trump reportedly enjoyed Pruitt’s presence too, and tried to ignore the constant barrage of news reports on his EPA chief’s scandals, which ranged from excessive spending on flights to scrubbing his official calendar to hide controversial meetings.
But despite the consistent praise, Trump finally decided by Thursday morning that Pruitt’s behavior was too much of a political burden for him to bear. He directed his staff to ask for Pruitt’s resignation without speaking to him and tweeted about the ouster after he received the letter.
By then, Pruitt had few fans left in the White House, according to officials who spoke to the Post.
For Chief of Staff John Kelly, the ousting couldn’t have come soon enough. The top White House aide was reportedly “obsessed” with giving him the boot. Many within Pruitt’s own agency had reportedly already turned against him and the White House press shop told the EPA to stop booking TV appearances for Pruitt, which he just started doing himself, current and former aides told the Post.
In the end, stroking Trump’s ego wasn’t enough to save Pruitt, but he used his near-spiritual resignation letter as one last expression of reverence for the President.
“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,” Pruitt wrote.