Amid accusations of multiple ethical failures, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned.
“It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it as a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also because of the transformative work that is occurring,” Pruitt said in his resignation letter, posted Thursday by Fox News.
“However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”
President Trump tweeted Thursday that he has accepted Pruitt’s resignation and has appointed the agency’s deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, as the acting head.
“Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” Trump wrote.
Trump said he has “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!”
Government investigators have been looking into Pruitt’s renting of a Capitol Hill condominium linked to an energy lobbyist on favorable terms, the high cost of his travel and security detail and other accusations of mistreatment of employees, wasteful spending and unethical decisions.
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are among the investigators.
The New York Times reported Thursday shortly after Pruitt announced his resignation that Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff fired a senior scheduler last summer after she questioned the legality of his practice of retroactively deleting meetings from his calendar.
‘Boot Pruitt’ campaign began before accusations
One of Pruitt’s biggest critics, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., tweeted Thursday that Pruitt remained in his position so long only because Trump “liked his zealotry” on deregulation.
“Scott Pruitt’s reign of venality is finally over,” wrote Connolly. “He made swamp creatures blush with his shameless excesses. All tolerated because Trump liked his zealotry. Shame.”
In contrast, talk-radio and Fox News host Mark Levin on Thursday characterized Pruitt as a victim of a political hit job.
“Well, they finally got Scott Pruitt. The EPA is hostile territory for any true conservative trying to tame it,” he wrote. “And the acting administrator is another lifer. Major step backward.”
However, Fox News host Laura Ingraham was on record Tuesday calling for Pruitt’s ouster.
“Pruitt is the swamp. Drain it,” she tweeted.
Washington observer Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the online magazine The Federalist and a contributor for Fox News, said Thursday that the issue is “not that Scott Pruitt showed bad judgment” – although she said some charges were false or exaggerated – it’s that he was effective in his job and, from the beginning, drew the wrath of a campaign called “Boot Pruitt.”
Hemingway, in a panel discussion on Bret Baier’s “Special Report,” said Pruitt was “articulating and advancing an agenda very different than what you had seen from previous EPA administrators.”
She emphasized that the reason Pruitt was under attack for the entirety of his administration was not because he showed bad judgment.
“The campaign that was funded by so many of these environmental groups was about going over every single decision he made, every single casual comment he made, with a fine-toothed comb so they could oust him,” she said.
Hemingway said the success of the Boot Pruitt effort will make it a blueprint for the left, noting that already activists are calling for the new acting administrator, Wheeler, to be removed, arguing he will continue Pruitt’s policies.