EPA chief Scott Pruitt finally has to answer to his critics in public this week, and reports suggest the White House won't be there to back him up.
In any other administration, corruption-stained Scott Pruitt would have lost his cabinet post a long time ago. Instead, the environmental protection chief continues to serve with Trump's support, even as Pruitt posts an extraordinary resume of fraud and self-dealing.
Now, as he prepares to be grilled during two congressional hearings this week, the White House is reportedly sending signals to Republicans to temper their support of the embattled, right-wing EPA boss, whose lavish spending and ethical lapses have been making headlines since last summer.
Incredibly, Pruitt's "spending and possible ethics violations are the subjects of 10 separate investigations," according to ABC News. "In recent weeks, roughly 170 Democrats have called for his resignation, and he drew sharp comments from some Republicans, including four who joined in calls for his dismissal."
If those sharp comments from Republicans continue this week during the two scheduled committee hearings, it could mark a turning point for Pruitt, which makes the news that the White House is "deterring Republicans from defending Pruitt" so significant.
Currently, Pruitt enjoys Trump's tacit backing. But if some Republicans make a public show of dressing Pruitt down in public this week, that support could change.
And for Pruitt, the avalanche of bad headlines continues, as endless questions are raised about his unprecedented spending and sweetheart deals.
As the New York Times detailed over the weekend, Pruitt has a long history of being a political grifter, constantly lining his pockets while on the public payroll.
As EPA chief, he currently has a 20-person security detail, which is more than three times the amount of protection Obama’s EPA chief received.
Pruitt also requested tens of thousands of dollars for a bulletproof desk for the security guard outside his office and a bulletproof sport utility vehicle. A $43,000 "secure phone booth" was built in his office. And he has spent a staggering amount of money on travel.
Pruitt has repeatedly billed taxpayers for his constant flights home back to Oklahoma on the weekends, and was caught instructing his staff to find something for him to do while he was there to make the trips look like official business.
He has also regularly demanded that his flights be booked on Delta airlines — even when the federal government didn’t have a government carrier contract with Delta — because Pruitt wanted to bank as many frequent flyer miles as possible.
Pruitt has a lot to answer for. If the White House is signaling to Republicans that they shouldn't defend the EPA boss, he could be in for a long week.