EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has faced scandal after career-damaging scandal in recent weeks, and now faces open speculation among the chattering class that his Trump administration job is on the line.
It’s difficult to say whether that speculation is correct: The White House has a habit of sending mixed and misleading signals when it comes to President Donald Trump’s feelings on his Cabinet members and senior staff, and the President himself is known to change his mind on such matters quickly and often.
While we wait to learn the fate of the nation’s top environmental (de-)regulator, here’s a timeline of Pruitt’s recent scandals and how the administration and prominent Republicans have responded to them. We’ll start with some background:
2/16: The director of the EPA’s office of criminal enforcement says Pruitt started flying first class to avoid people yelling profanities at him.
3/14: The Washington Post reports Pruitt’s soundproof office phone booth actually cost closer to $43,000, including installation.
3/20: The Associated Press reports Pruitt spent $120,000 in public funds for a meeting in Italy that included a private Vatican tour.
3/29: ABC News reports Pruitt lived in a townhouse co-owned by an energy lobbyist’s lobbyist wife.
3/30: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reveals Pruitt used his massive security detail on trips to the Rose Bowl, Disneyland and a University of Kentucky basketball game.
3/30: ABC News reports that Pruitt’s security detail once broke down the door to his townhouse in a panic, only to find him napping inside.
4/1: Former New Jersey governor and short-lived Trump transition leader Chris Christie says Pruitt never should have been hired in the first place.
4/2: The Wall Street Journal and CNN report, citing an unnamed White House official and a person familiar with the matter, respectively, that the White House is reviewing Pruitt’s living arrangement in a townhouse leased for a favorable rate from a lobbyist.
Politico reports, citing an unnamed senior administration official, that White House chief of staff John Kelly had considered Pruitt’s firing even before the townhouse scandal, but held off in anticipation of the EPA inspector general’s report on Pruitt’s expensive travel habit.
According to a Tuesday Bloomberg report citing two unnamed administration officials, Trump called Pruitt on Monday. One unnamed official said the President told his EPA administrator to “keep your head up” and “keep fighting.”
Days later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will say of the call: “It’s pretty routine that the President would speak to members of his own staff and Cabinet.”
4/3: The Atlantic reports that Pruitt used a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act to give two top aides huge raises. An EPA official later denies Pruitt was aware that the raises went behind the White House’s back.
Asked about Pruitt during a photo-op with Baltic leaders, Trump addresses the brewing scandals for the first time by saying of Pruitt, cryptically: “I hope he’s going to be great.”
South Floridian GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) call on Pruitt to step down.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Pruitt addresses the scrutiny over his townhouse deal: “[D]o I think that because we are leading on this agenda that there are some who want to keep that from happening? Absolutely. And do I think that they will resort to anything to achieve that? Yes. … It’s toxic here in that regard.”
4/4: In an interview with Fox News, Pruitt says he found out about the five-figure raises two of his senior advisers were given “yesterday.” He says he can’t yet name anyone responsible.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that President Donald Trump is “not” okay with the townhouse deal, and that “we’re reviewing the situation.”
“When we have had the chance to have a deeper dive on it we’ll let you know the outcomes of that, but we’re currently reviewing that here at the White House,” Sanders says.
The EPA ethics official who said last week that Pruitt’s townhouse deal complied with ethics guidelines now says he didn’t have all the necessary facts available when he made that assessment.
4/5: Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley says “I can’t speak to the future of Scott Pruitt.”
“The White House is aware of these reports and we’re looking into those,” Gidley says, adding: “We don’t have any announcements to make in regards to staffing right now.”
Asked if he has confidence in Pruitt, Trump says: “I do.”
A third House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), says “Pruitt should resign.“