Trump defends Scott Pruitt in midst of scandals as 'very courageous'


With EPA administrator Scott Pruitt facing multiple new scandals on a daily basis, Trump still has his back.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has become the center of a firestorm for his lavish personal use of taxpayer money and acceptance of a below-market real estate rental from a lobbyist.

But to hear it from Trump, Pruitt is not corrupt. In fact, Trump thinks he is "very courageous."

Those were his exact words when reporters aboard Air Force One asked him to comment on new allegations the EPA retaliated against multiple senior officials who questioned Pruitt's conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds.

"He's a good man, he's done a terrific job," Trump added. "But I'll take a look at it."

This reaction is standard fare. While Trump did accept the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price after his own luxury travel scandal, he has resolutely stuck by his other senior officials in the face of shocking allegations.

For example, he has not gotten rid of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, despite accusations that he discriminated against Native Americans and used wildfire funds to take a private helicopter ride.

He has stood by Housing Secretary Ben Carson, who wasted public funds on a $31,000 dining set and then lied about it.

And he has kept counselor Kellyanne Conway, despite multiple violations of White House ethics laws.

Unfortunately, in Congress — where under normal circumstances committees would investigate abuses in the executive branch — many Republicans are taking their cue from Trump and circling the wagons.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that Pruitt is "likely the bravest and most conservative member of Trump's cabinet," who is needed to "drain the regulatory swamp." And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) simply blamed the whole thing on President Obama.

Every day Trump keeps excusing Pruitt's behavior, he sends the message that every ethics rule is made to be broken and every member of his administration is for sale.