Drip, drip, drip.
Another day, another incremental development that makes Scott Pruitt’s hold on the EPA look more tenuous. POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Andrew Restuccia report that Pruitt didn’t just pay a budget rate for a Washington condo owned — he fell behind on his rent, too, leaving Pruitt’s landlord to hector him to pay up.
“Pruitt’s living arrangement is the latest ethical issue to come under scrutiny by the EPA’s inspector general, which said Thursday it’s considering opening an investigation into Pruitt’s lease arrangement — a move that would add to reviews of Pruitt’s taxpayer-funded first-class travel, his use of special hiring authority to grant raises to aides and his spending on a soundproof phone booth for his office.”
The White House has given mixed messages on Pruitt’s fate. Returning from a trip to West Virginia today, President Trump publicly vouched for Pruitt, saying that his EPA administrator was particularly popular in coal country.
White House staff was less definitive, though, and behind the scenes many are questioning whether Pruitt can hold on particularly after an interview on Fox News yesterday that many considered disastrous and revelations about big pay raises for Pruitt’s top EPA staffers..
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley refused to offer any assurances: “We all serve at the pleasure of the president. You guys know that. And when he’s not pleased, you’ll know it," Gidley told reporters. He added that Trump "reads the papers, he watches TV, he knows the reports that are floating around out there. And they do raise questions and we expect that Administrator Pruitt answer those questions."
Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:
FIRING (ON) BLANK: President Trump traveled to West Virginia today for an official event but also waded into a brutal GOP Senate primary to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, signaling his support for two mainstream Republicans at the expense of coal baron Don Blankenship.
BLEAT THE PRESS: CNN and the Washington Post, both targets of President Trump’s direct fire, have weighed differing strategies for how to deal with his attacks.
A TOTAL REX: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent millions of dollars on consultants to streamline the State Department, but with his unceremonious departure the legacy is multi-million dollar bill.
TROOP NUMBERS: President Trump said on Air Force One that between 2,000 to 4,000 members of the National Guard could be sent to the U.S.-Mexican border.
OFF SCRIPT: President Trump literally tossed out a script he said was boring during his event in West Virginia, instead talking about immigration and repeating claims about people voting illegally.
CAUGHT UP IN THE STORM: President Trump today for the first time denied that he had any knowledge of a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, before referring reporters to his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. TGIT, folks.