Monday 27 January 2020

President takes heat off environment chief

Scott Pruitt Photo: Reuters
Scott Pruitt Photo: Reuters

Rob Crilly

Donald Trump has waded into the war over his embattled environment chief by saying Scott Pruitt's position is safe for now.

Senior aides have told the US president to fire Mr Pruitt amid reports he has spent $3m (€2.4m) on security, and after attracting ridicule for installing a soundproof booth and renting an apartment from the wife of an energy lobbyist.

Supporters insist the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an effective figure, delivering on election promises to roll back Obama-era regulations protecting air and water quality.

Mr Trump used Twitter to express his support for his adviser. "While security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA. Record clean air & water while saving USA billions of dollars," he wrote.

EPA officials claim "unprecedented" levels of threat justify a 20-member full-time security detail.

However, analysts suggest his fate illustrates the tensions at work inside the administration, where loyalty to the president and his base counts more than a good track record.

Congress is already examining Mr Pruitt's travel arrangements. He faces further questions about his use of a room in a Washington town house owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist for which he paid just $50 (€40) a night - estimated to be about one-third of the usual price. Mr Trump shrugged off that allegation too.

John Kelly, Mr Trump's chief of staff, is among the White House voices urging the president to fire Mr Pruitt (inset).

His record has become a lightning conductor for criticism from both left and right, as his scepticism on climate change and spending of public money attracts negative attention.

He reportedly requested that his motorcade uses lights and sirens to speed trips through Washington when he was late for meetings or flights. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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