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Scott Pruitt's closest GOP ally wants investigations into all his scandals

Longtime Pruitt supporter Sen. James Inhofe has joined calls to investigate the EPA chief’s scandals as Republican support for Pruitt evaporates.

By Eric Boehlert - April 25, 2018
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt participates in a meeting with state and local officials regarding the Trump infrastructure plan, February 12, 2018 at The White House in Washington, DC. Credit:

On the eve of testimony before Congress about his widely controversial run as EPA chief, Scott Pruitt seems to have lost support from his longtime Republican mentor, Sen. James Inhofe, from his home state of Oklahoma.

Like Pruitt, Inhofe is a rabid climate change denier who sides with big business over the environment every chance he gets. Besides sharing Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, Inhofe has been an influential patron of Pruitt’s over the years. When Trump nominated Pruitt for the EPA job, it was Inhofe who gave him a flattering introductory speech at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Now, in what the New York Times calls a “remarkable turn,” Inhofe insists he supports investigations into the myriad ethical violations Pruitt is accused of. This follows recent reports that the White House signaled to Republicans to pull back their public support for the embattled EPA boss. (Trump himself has mostly gone silent on the topic, going without so much as a tweet for more than two weeks.)

That could be an ominous sign for Pruitt, who is scheduled to appear before two different Congressional committees on Thursday, where he is likely to face tough questions from members of both parties.

In recent weeks, roughly 170 Democrats, as well as a handful of Republicans, have called for Pruitt’s resignation.

If a powerful Republican like Inhofe had come out and unequivocally supported Pruitt and denounced his critics, that would have gone a long way towards providing the EPA boss with political cover. Inhofe, however, did the opposite, and Republicans are likely taking note.

The possible loss of Inhofe’s support means “that Pruitt is in big trouble,” John Feehery, a Republican strategist, told the Times.

This, after the Times recently detailed at length Pruitt’s long history of being a political grifter, lining his pockets for years while on the public payroll as an Oklahoma politician.

It is, of course, astonishing that Pruitt still has a Trump administration job. Boasting a lineup of scandals that may dwarf anything any previous EPA chief has ever assembled, Pruitt has emerged as a poster boy for rampant swamp corruption.

Indeed, his “spending and possible ethics violations are the subjects of 10 separate investigations,” according to ABC News. And Pruitt’s only been in office for one year.

If more powerful Republicans like Inhofe raise red flags, Pruitt might not have a job much longer.

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