Pruitt’s conservative support cracks – POLITICO

 In Politics

Laura Ingraham is pictured. | AP Photo

Ingraham is the highest-profile conservative to call for the ouster of Pruitt. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Updated


Scott Pruitt drew fire Wednesday from conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, who urged President Donald Trump to dump the scandal-scarred EPA administrator — the latest sign that his support among Republicans is crumbling.

Ingraham, the popular radio and Fox News host, is the highest-profile conservative so far to call for Trump to fire Pruitt, who is widely disliked inside the White House after a string of ethical and spending controversies.

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“PRUITT BAD JUDGMENT HURTING @POTUS, GOTTA GO,” Ingraham tweeted, while linking to a Washington Post report that Pruitt had pressed his staff to ask GOP donors to help find a job for his wife, Marlyn, who later secured a job at a conservative legal group.

The conservative National Review piled on later Wednesday, calling for Pruitt to be replaced.

“This is no way for any public official to treat taxpayers. It also makes it practically impossible for Pruitt to make the case for the Trump administration’s environmental policies — a case that we continue to believe deserves to be made,” the magazine’s senior editors wrote. “It does not help that Pruitt’s conduct has left him nearly alone at the agency. Many of his top aides have fled and paranoia seems to consume those who remain.”

So far, Trump has stuck with Pruitt, praising him for rolling back Obama administration environmental rules that conservatives had complained were strangling industry. The New York Times has reported recently that Trump speaks with Pruitt frequently about his displeasure with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But last week Trump did acknowledge the series of scandals, telling reporters that “I’m not saying that he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens.”

Ingraham is one of the 46 people whom the president follows on Twitter, and she was considered for the role of Trump’s press secretary in 2016. She dined at Trump’s hotel Tuesday evening with Donald Trump Jr. and conservative activists Charlie Kirk and Andy Surabian — both of whom publicly defended Pruitt in early April.

On her radio show Wednesday, she said Pruitt’s scandals were damaging the president and reflected the EPA chief’s repeated “judgment lapses.”

“He’s hurting the president because he has bad judgment after bad judgment after bad judgment,” she said. “It just doesn’t look good. If you want to drain the swamp, you got to have people in it who forgo personal benefits.”

Pruitt, who is facing a dozen congressional and EPA investigations into his spending on security and first-class travel, a sweetheart condo rental from a lobbyist, his use of aides to handle his personal business and unauthorized raises for close aides, is also seeing his star fade in Congress, where some of his most stalwart backers now express doubts about his behavior.

On Ingraham’s radio show, Pruitt ally Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) agreed that the continued revelations were troubling, and he said he would send a “communication” to EPA on Wednesday warning the embattled chief to cut it out. And he suggested that EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former Inhofe aide, was well-qualified to run the agency, and could step in for Pruitt.

Inhofe later stressed that he was not calling for Pruitt’s ouster, but he called for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to bring Pruitt in for a hearing.

Other Republican lawmakers appeared irritated by the latest Pruitt scandal, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who said the EPA’s chief’s request for aides to find a job for his wife with political donors was not appropriate. “Is there more to the story? I don’t know. Should we find out? Yeah,” she said.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, who has accused Pruitt of being as “swampy as you get” in his biofuels policies, criticized him Wednesday as “a bad actor in so many different areas.”

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