Even as the ethics scandals pile up, Scott Pruitt just keeps getting rave reviews from the president, while Jeff Sessions can’t seem to get off his shit list.
The dynamic was on display at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday when President Trump heaped praise on every member present, including EPA chief Pruitt, but then, when he came to his attorney general, said flatly: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you very much."
Sessions has endured Trump’s shame for months, as Trump has called him beleaguered, weak and disgraceful, and publically regretted appointing him to the attorney general post, because he recused himself from the Russia probe. As the investigation moves closer to Trump’s inner circle, the criticism is intensifying.
But as for the scandal-ridden Scott Pruitt, Trump said, people are “really impressed with the job that’s being done at the EPA.”
"Administrator Scott Pruitt. Thank you, Scott, very much,” Trump said. “EPA is doing really, really well.”
Pruitt has taken steps to reverse or delay many Obama-era environmental protection regulations, but so far hasn’t been able to overturn any yet.
And he’s been plagued by corruption allegations: Pruitt rented a D.C. condo from a lobbyist for a discount — $50 per day — and then approved his project, built a soundproof phone booth at EPA using $43,000 of taxpayer funds, gave big salary bumps to aides after the White House told him not to, had department aides run his personal errands — including trying to buy a used mattress from Trump International Hotel, instructed his deputy to schedule a meeting with a Chick-fil-A executive about getting his wife her own franchise, spent $3,000,000 of taxpayer funds on excessive security detail and $1,500 on fountain pens. Two of Pruitt’s aides resigned Wednesday as the scandal worsens.
Some Republicans in Congress are fed up with Pruitt. Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana called Pruitt a “moron.”
“I’m not going to come down here, just because he happens to be a nominee of a president I support or a nominee from my party, and try to defend the indefensible,” Kennedy said.
But scandals and all, he’s still higher on Trump’s list than Sessions is. He’s repeatedly said he wouldn’t have appointed him if he’d known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the investigation into whether the Trump campaign had anything to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Sessions played a big part in the Trump campaign, speaking to large crowds at rallies in his MAGA hat, but he also had contacts with Russians that warranted the recusal.
Cover: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association D.C. Opioid Roundtable in Washington, Thursday, May 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)