The White House is conducting a provisional review of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt amid reports of his unprecedented travel and security expenses, as well as new reports about his D.C. lodging, according to overnight reports Monday from The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Politico.
Both CNN and the WSJ reported, citing White House officials and people familiar with the matter, that the move is simply a review of the situation, not a formal probe and that Pruitt’s job is not in jeopardy — for now. The inquiry is meant to “dig a little deeper” into the allegations, a White House official told the WSJ.
Politico reported that Chief of Staff John Kelly at one point considered firing Pruitt, but Kelly reportedly now prefers to wait until an upcoming inspector general’s report into Pruitt’s travel expenses is released.
While the review is a sign that the White House may be unhappy with reports of Pruitt’s spending — which a CNN source said “eats at” Trump — his job is likely safe for now because Trump is pleased with Pruitt’s regulatory rollbacks, according to all three reports.
“From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and WOTUS, and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites that have been languishing for decades, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump’s agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told CNN in response to inquires about the reported review.
The review signals the White House might be reaching its wit’s end with Pruitt’s negative press.
Pruitt has consistently come under fire for reports of his excessive travel spending, which have totaled more than $150,000 in his first year, prompting the inspector general investigation and a probe from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Pruitt has also made unprecedented changes to his security detail, requiring round-the-clock service because of an apparent uptick in threats made against him. Just last week, ABC News reported that Pruitt rented lodging — at the rate of $50 a night — owned by a prominent energy lobbyist for several months last year.