Scott Pruitt resigned from his position heading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday after mounting pressure following months of high-profile controversies in both his personal and professional life.
In true Trump fashion, the president of the United States took to Twitter to make the announcement.
“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,” he tweeted.
“The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. 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!”
The nation’s agency, charged with protecting human and environmental health, is now in the hands of a former coal lobbyist. Wheeler – who the Senate confirmed in April as deputy administrator to the EPA – is a “longtime Washington insider” who has been described as Pruitt’s right-hand man much “like Mike Pence is to Trump,” according to Politico.
Pruitt’s political career has been rife with controversy for the last several months due, in part, to his lavish spending habits, close relationships with lobbyists, and allegations of using government resources for personal gain. Trump has repeatedly defended the former administrator, and just last month applauded his efforts within the agency.
“Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records,” he said. “Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press. And I'm not saying that he’s blameless, but we'll see what happens.”
Two days before Pruitt resigned, however, Deputy White House Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters the president was becoming concerned about the “many” reports made against the former administrator.
“The President feels, though, as Scott Pruitt has done a really good job at 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. And when we have an announcement, we’ll make it,” said Hogan.
Pruitt had led the EPA since his narrow confirmation in February 2017. He is now facing more than a dozen federal investigations for his conduct, including his more than $105,000 travel tab in his first year on the job and a close relationship with a condo owner he paid just $50 each night he spent at a Capitol Hill condo – the owner's husband was coincidentally chairman of a lobbying firm.