Chief of Staff John Kelly urges Trump to remove besieged EPA Chief Pruitt: WSJ

Key Points
  • Chief of Staff John Kelly told President Trump that EPA chief Scott Pruitt must step down, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Trump is happy with Pruitt's deregulatory maneuvers as head of the EPA, and reportedly doesn't want him to leave the administration.
  • Pruitt has been the subject of a slew of recent negative reports about his spending habits and conduct as a member of the administration.
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the agency in Washington, February 21, 2017.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly urged President Donald Trump last week to remove Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The newspaper, citing a White House official, said Kelly is convinced that Pruitt, who has recently been the subject of reports scrutinizing his spending habits, must step down.

Trump, however, is happy with the job Pruitt has done as the head of the EPA and does not want him to resign, the Journal reported.

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump said that Pruitt is "doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege."

Trump tweet Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!

He reiterated his confidence in Pruitt in remarks to reporters on Thursday.

At a press briefing the next day, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the White House is "continuing to review any of the concerns we have, and we'll keep you posted if there's anything further on that front."

Sanders added: "He has done a good job of carrying out the goals of the EPA."

The Journal's report comes amid a series of controversies surrounding Pruitt's conduct as a public official. Among them are questions about a apartment Pruitt rented in Washington from the wife of an energy lobbyist last year, for which he paid $50 a night.

An EPA watchdog initially cleared Pruitt of any wrongdoing, but later said it was missing certain facts in its initial determination.

The New York Times also reported on Thursday that multiple EPA officials were demoted or reassigned after questioning Pruitt's spending conduct.

Read the full report from the Wall Street Journal.

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