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Concho Resources : Trump tells EPA chief Pruitt 'we've got your back' despite ethics controversy

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04/03/2018 | 08:42 pm
Donald Trump has offered his support to Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is at the center of an ethics controversy.

Related: EPA chief Scott Pruitt 'may be on way out' over condo deal, senator says

Two administration officials said the president called the former Oklahoma attorney general on Monday and told him: “We’ve got your back.” Trump also urged Pruitt to “keep his head up” and said the White House supported him.

The officials said the chief of staff, John Kelly, reiterated those sentiments in a call to Pruitt on Tuesday morning.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

At the White House on Tuesday, where he was meeting Baltic leaders, Trump told reporters who asked about Pruitt: “I hope he’s going to be great.”

The Wall Street Journal had reported on Monday that Pruitt was the subject of a White House review, quoting an official who said not many people were coming to his defence.

On Sunday, the Alabama Democratic senator Doug Jones said he thought Pruitt was “on his way out” while the independent senator Bernie Sanders said the EPA chief should appear before the Senate environment committee. Former Trump transition chief Chris Christie said Pruitt “should’ve never been there in the first place”.

Despite his reality TV fame being based on the catchphrase “you’re fired”, Trump has avoided contact with appointees about to lose their jobs. The secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and veterans affairs secretary, David Shulkin, both ejected in March, were reportedly told of their fate by Kelly before Trump tweeted the news.

Pruitt, who was already one of a number of Trump appointees dogged by controversy over the use of public money for travel and other expenses, has come under intense scrutiny for his use of a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent Washington lobbyist whose firm represents fossil fuel companies.

ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that in his first six months in Washington last year, Pruitt made a deal to pay about $50 a night – less than a third the price of similar properties – to rent a room in a Capitol Hill neighborhood condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife.

Hart’s firm represents companies regulated by the EPA, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric, shale producer Concho Resources, ExxonMobil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy.

Related:Memo shows Mueller explicitly tasked with Manafort-Russia collusion claims

Travel records obtained through a public records request showed that Pruitt spent more than $17,000 in taxpayer money for a December trip to Morocco to promote US exports of LNG. Marketing American LNG is not under the jurisdiction of the EPA administrator.

An ethics official at the EPA has insisted Pruitt’s lease did not violate federal rules. A memo signed by Kevin Minoli contended that the $50-a-night payments constituted a fair market rate.

As a professed climate science skeptic Pruitt has thrived in the Trump administration, slashing environmental regulations often established under Barack Obama.

It has been reported that he covets the post of attorney general should Jeff Sessions be fired. Sessions is reportedly out of favour over his recusal from the investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion between Trump aides and Moscow.

The interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, housing and urban development secretary, Ben Carson, and treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, have also come under pressure over questions of spending and ethics. Trump’s first health secretary, Tom Price, resigned over his use of public money for private travel.

On Tuesday congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, said Pruitt’s “corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers. It’s time for him to resign or for Potus to dismiss him.”

6222018-04-03T15:57:51Zfalsefalse2018-04-04T09:50:27ZUStheguardian.comhttps://gu.com/p/8cbh9falsetruehttps://media.guim.co.uk/6126803a963bcbd15f38aa20bf9c788242aa869e/0_66_3444_2067/500.jpgfalseenDonald Trump has offered his support to Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is at the center of an ethics controversy. Two administration officials said the president called the former Oklahoma attorney general on Monday and told him: “We’ve got your back.” Trump also urged Pruitt to “keep his head up” and said the White House supported him. The officials said the chief of staff, John Kelly, reiterated those sentiments in a call to Pruitt on Tuesday morning. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. At the White House on Tuesday, where he was meeting Baltic leaders, Trump told reporters who asked about Pruitt: “I hope he’s going to be great.” The Wall Street Journal had reported on Monday that Pruitt was the subject of a White House review, quoting an official who said not many people were coming to his defence. On Sunday, the Alabama Democratic senator Doug Jones said he thought Pruitt was “on his way out” while the independent senator Bernie Sanders said the EPA chief should appear before the Senate environment committee. Former Trump transition chief Chris Christie said Pruitt “should’ve never been there in the first place”. Despite his reality TV fame being based on the catchphrase “you’re fired”, Trump has avoided contact with appointees about to lose their jobs. The secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and veterans affairs secretary, David Shulkin, both ejected in March, were reportedly told of their fate by Kelly before Trump tweeted the news. Pruitt, who was already one of a number of Trump appointees dogged by controversy over the use of public money for travel and other expenses, has come under intense scrutiny for his use of a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent Washington lobbyist whose firm represents fossil fuel companies. ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that in his first six months in Washington last year, Pruitt made a deal to pay about $50 a night – less than a third the price of similar properties – to rent a room in a Capitol Hill neighborhood condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife. Hart’s firm represents companies regulated by the EPA, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric, shale producer Concho Resources, ExxonMobil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy. Travel records obtained through a public records request showed that Pruitt spent more than $17,000 in taxpayer money for a December trip to Morocco to promote US exports of LNG. Marketing American LNG is not under the jurisdiction of the EPA administrator. An ethics official at the EPA has insisted Pruitt’s lease did not violate federal rules. A memo signed by Kevin Minoli contended that the $50-a-night payments constituted a fair market rate. As a professed climate science skeptic Pruitt has thrived in the Trump administration, slashing environmental regulations often established under Barack Obama. It has been reported that he covets the post of attorney general should Jeff Sessions be fired. Sessions is reportedly out of favour over his recusal from the investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion between Trump aides and Moscow. The interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, housing and urban development secretary, Ben Carson, and treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, have also come under pressure over questions of spending and ethics. Trump’s first health secretary, Tom Price, resigned over his use of public money for private travel. On Tuesday congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, said Pruitt’s “corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers. It’s time for him to resign or for Potus to dismiss him.”3842falseTwo administration officials said the president called Scott Pruitt on Monday and told him: ‘We’ve got your back.’


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