EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigns

President Donald Trump says he has accepted the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. CNN's Sara Ganim reports.

Posted: Jul 6, 2018 3:56 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 4:08 PM

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt finally resigned. The decision does not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following the news. The only real question is why it took so long to happen.

Over his 18-month tenure, Pruitt, who was an anti-environmental warrior for the right, amassed a long record of ethically questionable practices and was facing over a dozen separate investigations. In the history books, he will likely go down as a poster child for Cabinet officials who didn't believe that conflicts of interest matter and who were willing to use their office for material gain.

Pruitt's alleged wrongdoing draws attention to an issue at the heart of the Trump administration: ethical corruption. Pruitt's problems comported with a White House that seems to mock concerns about good government, and the idea that public officials work first and foremost to serve the public interest and not for personal gain.

The tone was established when President Donald Trump did not create a strong and clear firewall between his own global business and the presidency. He left the sprawling family business -- the Trump Organization -- in the hands of his two sons and did very little to provide real assurances that his own actions, such as frequent, taxpayer-funded trips to Trump resorts, would not undermine the need to make sure that public officials act for the good of the country.

That's said, Pruitt is but one example of the ethics crisis. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson had to defend the purchase of a $31,000 dining set for his office, while Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted he was not involved with the decision to grant a $300 million contract to a tiny company from his hometown to help with the recovery in Puerto Rico.

Then there was former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who had to resign when the public learned of his traveling on expensive private jets and military aircraft. And who can ignore the numerous questions about the conflict of interest between the businesses of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and the important roles they play in the White House?

But nobody in the administration, other than Trump, came to embody the ethics crisis facing the White House more than Pruitt. The EPA administrator would travel on private and military planes, instead of commercial airlines, when going home to Oklahoma. He allegedly had his staff undertake all sorts of personal requests, which included trying to find a job for his wife with the Republican Attorneys General Association, and exploring a business opportunity for her at Chick-fil-A. And, according to The Washington Post, one staffer had to go out looking for lotion that Pruitt wanted from Ritz Carlton hotels.

Meanwhile, his relationship with lobbyists was as shady as could be. Reporters discovered that Pruitt rented an apartment, at an extremely low rate, that was owned by a health care lobbyist whose husband was also a lobbyist who had worked on EPA-related issues. Another lobbyist arranged a December trip to Morocco.

Even Pruitt's resignation letter reflects the influence of the Trump presidency. Just as Trump never apologizes, Pruitt didn't either. Instead, he blamed his resignation on the "unrelating attacks" he and his family had endured.

The administration will certainly try to separate itself from Pruitt's scandals by either continuing to dismiss them as "fake news" or claiming they have nothing to do with the President. But Pruitt must be seen in the context of the Trump presidency. This is a President who has not taken ethics seriously and has no problem pushing the boundaries of what kinds of actions are permissible when public officials use their authority for personal gain.

In a White House that has been one continuous advertisement for the Trump name, it is not surprising that someone like Pruitt was allowed to serve for so long.

The biggest issue right now is not what happens next to Pruitt, but will the Republican Congress continue to live with the kinds of blurred ethical lines that have become normalized under Trump. Based on the past year and a half, the safe bet is probably yes.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 14372

Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds95924
Lauderdale71358
Madison69422
Scott63010
Neshoba58937
Jones56622
Forrest52338
DeSoto5036
Leake40012
Rankin3856
Holmes38524
Jackson30313
Copiah2904
Attala28415
Newton2564
Monroe25225
Leflore25130
Lincoln25024
Harrison2477
Lamar2315
Yazoo2274
Pearl River20631
Pike20311
Adams19015
Lowndes1899
Noxubee1736
Washington1667
Warren1597
Bolivar15411
Wayne1540
Oktibbeha15411
Jasper1524
Smith14511
Covington1431
Clarke13818
Kemper13611
Chickasaw13012
Lafayette1274
Lee1245
Carroll11511
Coahoma1144
Marion1149
Clay1084
Winston1051
Lawrence1021
Simpson950
Hancock8711
Wilkinson859
Yalobusha855
Grenada853
Itawamba847
Montgomery811
Union805
Sunflower783
Jefferson Davis772
Marshall773
Tate741
Tippah7111
Claiborne692
Panola643
Calhoun634
Webster611
Humphreys587
Amite561
Tunica533
Walthall520
Perry503
Prentiss423
Jefferson400
Choctaw342
Stone300
Pontotoc293
Tishomingo280
Franklin282
Tallahatchie261
Quitman250
George211
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene91
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00
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