GOP senators say Pruitt stories have become a distraction

Last Updated Jun 7, 2018 7:05 PM EDT

Several Senate Republicans have come to a consensus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt: while they can get behind his regulation rollbacks, the recent slew of scandals surrounding his name have become a major distraction.

In this week alone, stories have surfaced about Pruitt asking an agency aide to acquire a used Trump Hotel mattress and to research opportunities for his wife to own a Chick-fil-A franchise. On Thursday, a report came out that Pruitt had an EPA security detail hunt down his favorite skin lotion, and longtime aide to Pruitt and EPA lawyer Sarah Greenwalt resigned

“Administrator Pruitt follows the same security protocol whether he’s in his personal or official capacity,” EPA press secretary Kelsi Daniell told CBS News on the matter. 

However, with Pruitt blunders maintaining footholds in the news cycle, some Republicans look eager to call out the EPA chief. 

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, said Thursday that while he agrees “with many of the new policies of the EPA,” not all of which he says are attributable to Pruitt, he thinks that lately the EPA administrator has been “acting like a moron.”

“I said it yesterday, I don’t mean any disrespect, but he’s acting like moron,” Kennedy said. “If you can’t use good judgment and put tax payers first, it’s time to find another line of work.”

Senate Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that all of the Pruitt stories “seem like distractions” from his actual work within the EPA.

“I don’t think it looks good but I like what the administrator has been doing from a policy perspective,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said that while he wasn’t sure if all the stories about Pruitt are true, the policies he’s championed are well-liked by Republicans.

“I just know there’s a lot of talk of conflicts and we’ll see how much the market can bear,” he said. “I think what keeps him around is that the policies he’s implementing most people like. I don’t know what’s fact, I don’t know what’s fiction,” he later added.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Wednesday that Pruitt “has to be very careful” in order for people to trust him to “do the job without influence, one way or the other.”

“Knowing Scott Pruitt, I think he will do a good job,” Hatch said.

CBS News’ Alan He contributed to this report

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Categories: Government & Politics

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