Scott Pruitt Was Somehow Too Dumb and Corrupt Even for Trump

The shadiest EPA boss ever is gone, and America is still (sort of) alive.

|
Jul 5 2018, 10:00pm

On Thursday, Scott Pruitt, the mind-numbingly corrupt and thoroughly medieval global warming skeptic Donald Trump saw fit to place in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned. Given the damage Pruitt had already done to the planet and his use of the EPA as a sort of college frat–style slush fund—he actually leveraged his power to cop NCAA basketball tickets!—this was a positive development.

In less positive news: Donald Trump is still surrounded by sleazy, bumbling ideologues who often seem to differ from Pruitt only in that they are slightly better at avoiding horrific headlines about absurdly shady shit.



Pruitt amassed a long, long (I mean, really fucking long) list of misdeeds within the first year and a half of snagging his gig. Even if you leave aside the confused (and often thrown out in court) attempts to gut Obama-era environmental rules, the slowdown of pending regulations on power-plant emissions, the cozy ties to coal executives and lobbyists, Pruitt was a total nightmare from a corruption standpoint. He reportedly used agency staff to run his personal errands, like trying to secure a used Trump hotel mattress. He allegedly arranged his travel plans like a taxpayer-funded version of the Points Guy, with extra care paid to accruing frequent-flier miles and luxury digs. He had government employees try to find work gigs for his wife, among them taking over a Chick-fil-A franchise. He had a $43,000 phone booth built with public funds, possibly breaking the law along the way. (There's a lot more.)

But as the New York Times reports, Trump loved him anyway. A lot of those environmental rules he was hacking at with a saw were created under Barack Obama. The attempted dismantling of the EPA wasn't a scandal for Trump, it was Pruitt doing his job.

Still, there seems to be a limit as to what even Trump will tolerate. That limit appears to be whenever news of a lackey's shady behavior threatens to overshadow the president's own latest reality-TV gambit. In this case, perhaps the freshest splash of Pruitt reporting—the Times explored the firing of a Pruitt aide who warned against (possibly illegally) deleting things from his public schedule—was too much. After all, Trump has a big summit coming up with Vladimir Putin, and he doesn't want pesky ethics stories from the home-front blowing up his spot.

In his resignation letter to the president, Pruitt—citing "unrelenting attacks" on him and his family—went full New Testament, lavishing Trump with praise and explicitly stating his belief that God's Providence was at work here. Pruitt, it seems, is impossible to shame. No wonder he was such a good fit for this White House.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Matt Taylor on Twitter.

More VICE
Vice Channels