Pelosi calls on EPA's Pruitt to resign

Pruitt has faced continued fallout over reports that for the first six months he was in Washington, he leased a Capitol Hill condo tied to a lobbyist that did business with the EPA and paid just $50 a night, only for the nights he stayed there. Kelly and other White House aides are frustrated by the steady drip of negative press Pruitt is attracting over a seemingly below-market lease on an apartment owned by the wife of a leading lobbyist, reports that he instructed his security detail to use emergency lights and sirens to beat traffic, and the continuing fallout from using private and first-class air travel past year. The letter said he behaved unethically in renting a room from the wife of an energy lobbyist, wasted taxpayer money, and had taken numerous actions that contravened the EPA's mission, including a trip to Morocco to promote USA exports of natural gas.

The EPA official also said there were legitimate concerns about Pruitt's safety, given public opposition to his rollbacks of anti-pollution measures. The news was first reported by ABC News, which also reported that the townhouse is co-owned by Vicki Hart, the health care lobbyist wife of J. Steven Hart, an energy lobbyist.

Pruitt was accompanied by nine aides and a security detail during a trip to Italy in June that cost more than $120,000. Two month earlier, in December, Pruitt and members of his staff spent roughly $40,000 in taxpayer funds to fly to Morocco to help encourage the country to import liquefied natural gas from the United States.

Pruitt denied in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday that he knew anything about efforts to circumvent the White House to approve raises for two top aides at EPA, and said that once he found out about it he put a stop to it. He also said he was unaware of the salary increases and planned to review the decision internally.

But the president has said he still has confidence in Pruitt - though White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters "the president is not" OK with the most recent reported ethics violations. She declined to engage on the specific accusations against Pruitt, calling them "hypotheticals". They feel very strongly about Scott Pruitt.

Pressure has been mounting for President Donald Trump to do something about Pruitt. Trump met with the controversy-ridden agency head on Friday, a senior White House official confirmed to CNN.

Perrotta signed off on new procedures that let Pruitt fly first-class on commercial airliners, with the security chief typically sitting next to him with other security staff farther back on the plane.

Top Republican aides tell CNN that if Trump chose to fire Pruitt it would be extremely hard to confirm another conservative EPA administrator to continue carrying out the deregulation agenda he has set in motion during his tenure. "Pruitt must resign", Pelosi said in a statement, adding that he "has displayed a staggering ethical blindness".

At least three congressional Republicans and a chorus of Democrats have called for Pruitt's ouster. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, have called on Pruitt to go, but most other GOP lawmakers have kept mum on the issue.

  • Jon Douglas