Scott Pruitt resigned from his position leading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, following months of high-profile controversies regarding his spending, ethics and management at the agency.
In a tweet Thursday, President Trump confirmed Pruitt’s departure, saying he’s accepted the administrator’s resignation.
“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” Trump tweeted.
The Hill reports,
Trump added that Pruitt will be replaced on Monday by EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former energy lobbyist who was confirmed in April for the post.
“I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”
Pruitt this week faced intensified criticism from reports that the administrator maintained a secret, internal calendar that he directed aides to change from the public version they released.
Pruitt’s former political aide, Madeline Morris, confirmed to the New York Times Thursday that she believes she was fired from the agency after pushing back on directions to retroactively change meetings on Pruitt’s calendar — actions she learned were potentially illegal.
Morris was hired in June 2017 as Pruitt scheduler. She raised red flags after seeing changes related to Pruitt’s trip to Italy on the calendar. She told the Times she was fired two days later in August 2017.
Former EPA political staffer turned whistleblower Kevin Chmielewski confirmed to The Hill that he and Pruitt’s Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson were responsible for firing Morris for the changes.
Chmielewski said it was typical of staffers to be “retaliated against and assigned.”
He said he was fired from the agency earlier this year after he pushed back on a number of Pruitt’s travel plans including use of first class travel.
Chmielewski additionally confirmed the use of an internal calendar he said staffers kept out of the public eye. CNN first reported on the secret calendar Tuesday.
Pruitt has been engulfed in high-profile scandals and under fire by both parties in recent months regarding spending taxpayer money for travel and security, his close relationships with lobbyists and industry, and allegations he used government resources and staff for personal gain, among other controversies.
He was facing more than 13 federal investigations over the controversies, including from the EPA’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Government Accountability Office in April found him guilty of overspending congressionally allocated money on a $43,000 soundproof booth built in his office to provide privacy on personal calls.
Despite a nearly circuitous trend of scandals surrounding Pruitt at EPA, the administrator appeared to walk away from most criticisms unscathed.
Trump expressed confidence in the embattled EPA chief as recently as last month.
“Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we’re setting records,” Trump said June 8, adding, “I’m not saying that he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens.”
But Pruitt had been losing the confidence of top White House officials and career staffers at the agency, and many of his closest aides left as the scandals grew.
“The president feels as though Scott Pruitt has done a really good job with deregulating the government, to allow for a thriving economy, that’s important to him, but these things matter to the president as well, and he’s looking into those,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters July 3.
Continue reading at The Hill