Trump Accepts EPA Chief's Resignation: Pruitt Did 'Outstanding Job' Shaping Deregulation Agenda

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt / Getty Images
July 5, 2018

President Donald Trump on Thursday accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has been under scrutiny for multiple ethics scandals.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, praising Pruitt for doing an "outstanding job" and saying he will "always be thankful" for the EPA chief's role in helping shape the administration's EPA agenda.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will..." Trump tweeted.

"...on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!" Trump wrote.

While Pruitt has been hailed by Trump and conservatives for his deregulation at the EPA, he has come under scrutiny in recent months for several ethics scandals, including cozy spending abuses and traveling first class, according to the New York Times.

Mr. Pruitt is the subject of at least 13 federal investigations, and a government watchdog agency concluded that he had broken the law with his purchase of a $43,000 secure telephone booth. He was also under investigation for his 2017 lease of a bedroom in a condominium linked to a Canadian energy company’s powerful Washington lobbying firm, and for accusations that he demoted or sidelined E.P.A. employees who questioned his actions.

The former E.P.A. administrator had come under criticism for lavish expenditures on foreign travel, including a trip arranged for him by a lobbyist to Morocco, a country where the E.P.A. has no policy agenda. His domestic travel also came under fire after a former staff member told congressional investigators that his boss often sought to travel to Oklahoma, where Mr. Pruitt owns a home, directing his employees to "find me something to do" there so he could justify charging taxpayers for the expense.

In his resignation letter, Pruitt said the decision to resign was a difficult one for multiple reasons but that the "unrelenting attacks" on him and his family made it necessary.

"Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to," Pruitt said.

Andrew Wheeler, the current deputy administrator at the EPA, will assume the duties as acting EPA administrator on Monday.