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Out-Trumping Trump


Scott Pruitt, ladies and gentlemen:

Several weeks after taking the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt was running late and stuck in Washington, D.C., traffic. Sources tell CBS News that he wanted to use his vehicle’s lights and sirens to get to his official appointment, but the lead agent in charge of his security detail advised him that sirens were to be used only in emergencies.

Less than two weeks later that agent was removed from Pruitt’s detail, reassigned to a new job within the EPA.

Special Agent Eric Weese, a 16-year veteran of the EPA, was replaced by Pasquale “Nino” Perotta. Perrotta now leads Pruitt’s unprecedented 24-hour Protective Service Detail, which determined that Pruitt needed to fly in first class because of “specific, ongoing threats associated with the Administrator’s air travel.” The security detail, “shifted his class based on certain security protocols that require him to be near the front of the plane,” the EPA wrote in a letter last month.

I’m not sure if this corruption quite rises to the level of “did nothing while an unexceptionable uranium deal was consummated by other people,” but it seems pretty bad. Also:

At least five officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, four of them high-ranking, were reassigned or demoted, or requested new jobs in the past year after they raised concerns about the spending and management of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt.

The concerns included unusually large spending on office furniture and first-class travel, as well as certain demands by Mr. Pruitt for security coverage, such as requests for a bulletproof vehicle and an expanded 20-person protective detail, according to people who worked for or with the E.P.A. and have direct knowledge of the situation.

Mr. Pruitt bristled when the officials — four career E.P.A. employees and one Trump administration political appointee — confronted him, the people said.

Fanatical commitment to radical views with no popular support, unapologetic corruption and taxpayer looting, deep belief that rules shouldn’t apply to him, treats subordinates like shit — he’s the Republican Party 2018 in human form. And, of course, the party is circling the wagons:

Pruitt has been fighting to hold on to his job in the face of multiplying scandals. Axios reports that Pruitt’s allies are distributing scripted defenses of the scandal-tarred Cabinet member, making two points: “Don’t let the left take down Pruitt. This is really about ideology, and people on the left who don’t like his aggressive moves to unwind regulations,” and “Firing Pruitt would bring endless trouble. Pruitt’s backers say the left — and they lump the mainstream press into that category — won’t be satisfied if Pruitt goes. They’ll just move onto the next cabinet secretary.”

Numerous right-wing columnists have repeated the Pruitt-approved talking points almost verbatim. These include the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway (“Scott Pruitt Is Trump’s Biggest Asset. That’s Why the Left Wants Him Gone”), the Daily Caller’s Saagar Enjeti (“Conservatives Will Have a Hard Time Ditching Scott Pruitt”), and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Citizen Patriots Fund (“In spite of his coming under attack from the radical left and their allies in the liberal media, Pruitt is making real progress for the American people at an agency that the left believes it alone should run and control.”).

It’s worth noting that if Pruitt goes he’ll be replaced by another energy industry lickspittle, not Bill McKibben. A lot of Republicans are willing to leave an extraordinarily corrupt and unfit figure in office because it might result in some marginal fraction of environmental degradation being left on the table. Quite the party you have going there.

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