President Donald Trump has been told by Chief of Staff John Kelly that Environmental Protection Agency chief and Kentucky-born Scott Pruitt needs to step down, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
The Journal reported that Kelly and other White House aides feel Pruitt should leave amid allegations Pruitt has abused his power, but Trump is not ready to fire him. The Journal story was one of several new reports Friday digging into Pruitt’s tenure and dealings.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Pruitt to go.
Friday, Trump said on Twitter Pruitt “is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege.”
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Nevertheless, the White House is conducting a review of ethical questions surrounding Pruitt.
But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday the president believes Pruitt has “done a good job at … carrying out the goals of the EPA.”
Administration aides say it’s unclear how long Pruitt can stay on the job, according to the Associated Press.
Friday’s developments followed a Thursday trip home for Pruitt to meet with Kentucky air-quality regulators, business leaders and elected officials.
Pruitt is facing various controversies, including news that he was living in a bargain condo owned by the wife of a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry. He paid about $1,000 a month, which is less than a third of the lease or rent for other nearby two-bedroom homes.
He also gave substantial raises to two of his employees, despite not having the power to do so.
The Danville native has also faced questions over his travel expenses, according to the Journal. The New York Times reported Thursday that Pruitt reassigned or demoted several officials who raised concerns over his spending.
Pruitt moved to Lexington as a boy. He was a standout football and baseball player at Lafayette High School, earning a baseball scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where he played second base. After a year, he transferred to Georgetown College, where he earned degrees in political science and communications. He moved to Oklahoma to attend the University of Tulsa College of Law, and ended up staying there. His mother still lives in Lexington.
Among Pruitt’s supporters is Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin who criticized Pruitt’s critics and defended the EPA chief in a series of tweets Wednesday.
If Trump were to fire Pruitt, he would be the fourth agency head within Trumps’ administration whom he has ousted.
But Kelly’s opinion of Pruitt may not matter like it once did. Trump has been freezing him out, according to the Associated Press. Trump “has rebelled against Kelly’s restrictions and mused about doing away with the chief of staff post entirely. It’s all leading White House staffers and Trump allies to believe that Kelly is working on borrowed time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.