Trump Resists Mounting Pressure To Fire Scandal-Struck EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

FILE- Scott Pruitt administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency speaks during a daily briefing in the White House in Washington

Top Republican aides tell CNN that if Trump made a decision 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.

New details in Pruitt's expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by the wire service.

Pruitt has said his use of first-class airfare was initiated following unpleasant interactions with other travelers.

A nationwide search of state and federal court records by the Associated Press found no case in which anyone was arrested or charged with threatening Pruitt, the wire service said Friday. But President Trump is so far standing by him. 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 US exports of natural gas. 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 a year ago.

As of this writing, Pruitt still has a job.

The post came a day after multiple administration officials familiar with Trump's thinking told NBC News that the president had been considering, as recently as last week, replacing Sessions with Pruitt, who previously served as the attorney general of Oklahoma. He also has championed budget cuts and staff reductions at the agency so deep that even Republican budget hawks in Congress refused to implement them. Three Republicans in the 435-member House have called for Pruitt to resign.

The EPA administrator has come under intense scrutiny for ethics issues and outsized spending. The security is eating up so many resources that it's preventing EPA investigators from doing their jobs.

But other sources within EPA and documents released through public information requests help provide a window into the ballooning costs. In just his first three months in office, Pruitt spent more than $800,000 on this security detail.

In August, the EPA's inspector general began investigating a number of expensive, taxpayer-funded trips Pruitt took.

Then during a trip to Italy in June, Pruitt was accompanied by nine aides and a security detail that cost more than $120,000.

And speaking of Pruitt's security, the EPA director has also installed a soundproof phone booth in his office that cost close to $43,000, had biometric locks put in his office that cost over $5,000 and had his office swept for concealed listening devices for $3,000. She flew coach and was not accompanied by security during her off hours, like on weekend trips home to Boston.

Unlike his predecessor, Pruitt insists on flying first class and bringing his security detail with him even when he's not on EPA business. The payment for the bug sweep went to a vice president at Perrotta's security company.

Those purchases were not approved.

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