Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified before Congress on Thursday that at least some of the mounting allegations of ethics violations leveled against him are not true. The tone of the hearing largely came down along party lines, with most Democrats grilling Pruitt about the accusations and Republicans defending the Trump deputy.
Pruitt, who is the subject of at least five investigations, has come under fire for renting a Washington apartment linked to an energy lobbyist and for allegedly retaliating against EPA staff who challenged his management and the way he spent taxpayer money.
The EPA chief on Thursday admitted to lawmakers that he faced a "learning process" and that he himself is solely responsible for identifying and correcting faults found by Congress and independent bodies.
But Pruitt quickly sought to cast doubt on news reports that have engulfed him and his agency in claims of self-dealing and wasteful spending.
"Facts are facts, and fiction is fiction and a lie doesn't become truth just because it appears in the front page of the newspaper," he said in testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on environment.
"Much of what has been targeted towards me and my team has been half-truths or at best stories that have been so twisted that they do not resemble reality," he said.
Pruitt said "attacks" on the EPA were really attacks on the Trump administration's agenda, which largely focuses on rolling back Obama-era environment rules and reducing regulations.