Democracy dies in darkness, proclaims the credo of the Washington Post but an extraordinary amount of sunlight has not killed off one of the most corrupt members of the Trump administration after Trump himself — EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
Columbia Journalism Review rounds up the
“I think we’re in a very unusual era in terms of the consequences of ethical failings,” Lipton told Chotiner. “The only person that is going to decide the fate of Pruitt is the president himself or Pruitt himself.”
How does he survive? Trump loves what Pruitt’s doing (and I’d guess ethical failings aren’t likely to stir the most unethical occupant of the White House since Teapot Dome.)
Why has Pruitt lasted? Amid the scandal, he’s quietly gone about a wholesale slashing of environmental laws, proving himself to be one of his boss’s deftest regulatory scalpels. Trump himself admitted as much when he said in June that Pruitt was “doing a great job” and “breaking records,” and White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley echoed that logic on Tuesday when he told reporters that the EPA administrator “has done a really good job with deregulating the government to allow for a thriving economy.”
And therein lies the real problem. If Pruitt is forced finally to quit, the damage he’s done to the environment will live long after the Pruitt personal bills have been paid.
I cannot mention Scott Pruitt without the obligatory reference to former Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s warm endorsement of his elevation to the Trump team. A “good and honorable man,” McDaniel said. I’d urge him to scan the Journalism Review recitation of Pruitt’s epic list of sleaziness and reconsider that “honorable” descriptive. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge undoubtedly remains a fan of Pruitt, precisely for the damage he’s doing to the environment. She’s lauded that work often.
Glen Hooks, the Arkansas director of the Sierra Club, cheered the news:
“This resignation is welcome, and long overdue. Scott Pruitt was the worst EPA Administrator in history, and any President that cared about protecting taxpayers, respecting science, tackling the climate crisis, or protecting the environment would have fired him months ago. Still, credit is due to the many Americans on both sides of the aisle who have taken action and spoken out to oust one of the most corrupt officials in the history of our nation — and the Trump Administration can be assured that same energy and passion that helped boot Scott Pruitt will be focused on ensuring the next EPA Administrator works for the public, not corporate polluters.
We have to restore public trust in the EPA and let the agency fulfill its mission, rather than gut the laws that keep our families safe. A coal lobbyist dogged by ethical questions like Andrew Wheeler is not the person to do that. We urge Senators Boozman and Cotton to confirm a nominee who will hold the health and safety of American families in higher regard than the profits of big polluters.”