Trump stands by EPA chief Pruitt as probes into his conduct expand

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt answers reporters' questions during a briefing at the White House last year

David Apol, the federal ethics office's acting director and general counsel, said in the initial letter that: "OGE expects that the EPA will review and analyze the alleged conduct". "The American public needs to have confidence that ethics violations, as well as the appearance of ethics violations, are investigated and appropriately addressed".

The Associated Press reported last week that Mr. Pruitt has spent about $3 million on security, a figure confirmed by The New York Times. He called Pruitt's security spending "somewhat more" than Pruitt's predecessor and said Pruitt had received death threats "because of his bold actions at EPA".

On Saturday, Trump reiterated his support, defending Pruitt's spending and his $50 per night rental arrangement with the lobbyist couple. That association has raised further questions on Pruitt's time at EPA and a number of lawmakers have referred to as for additional investigation into the deal. "Scott is doing a great job!" The article calls the letter an "unusual step" for the OGE to take.

President Trump shakes hands with EPA chief Scott Pruitt after announcing his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement
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"The EPA is using its small refinery waiver in an unprecedented manner to benefit some of the largest refineries in the nation, including Andeavor, which posted profits of approximately $1.5 billion a year ago", the senators wrote. Under the lease terms, Pruitt was required to leave his bedroom door unlocked and was barred from using common areas, which continued to be a venue for dinner parties and meetings during his stay. Federal officials are barred from accepting gifts from employees that have a market value of more than $10. The lobbyist, Steven J. Hart, frequently represents energy and utility companies in Washington, including Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E).

"This is a pretty sudden fall from grace for Pruitt, who's been a conservative favorite for his aggressively pro-industry stance", Oliver said, pointing out that Pruitt's disdain for the agency he runs isn't much of a secret, as his LinkedIn page still describes him as "a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda". Among other things, Pruitt has splurged on a full-time security detail that has even accompanied him on personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. Former EPA deputy chief of staff for operations Kevin Chmielewski - who objected to Pruitt's travel spending as well as other aspects of his management - is meeting with a group of investigators Tuesday, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the committee's internal deliberations.

Several of the staffers raised concerns about Pruitt flying first class, a habit the administrator indulged in more often after one of them was sidelined.

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But the new documents detail an ongoing disagreement among the agency's intelligence officials, the EPA inspector general and senior political appointees over the level of threat Pruitt faces. Apol appeared to encourage Minoli to take a direct role.

The Office of Government Ethics is responsible for oversight of executive branch officials and ethics offices within government agencies but doesn't have the authority to conduct its own investigations into allegations of misconduct.

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