President Donald Trump called his embattled environmental chief Monday to assure him his job is safe amid mounting scrutiny of Scott Pruitt’s travel, hiring practices and an unorthodox condo rental arrangement last year, according to an administration official.
The president told Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to "keep your head up" and "keep fighting," because the White House has "got your back" said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters. That message was reinforced by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in a telephone call to Pruitt on Tuesday morning, the official said.
Pruitt has been under fire over revelations that last year he rented a Capitol Hill condo from the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist whose firm has clients regulated by the EPA . The unconventional lease terms permitted Pruitt to pay $50 only on days his bedroom in the unit was actually occupied -- with a total of $6,100 in payments over a roughly six-month period.
An EPA ethics adviser said the rental arrangement met federal guidelines and did not violate a gift ban.
Read More: Pressure Builds for Probe of Pruitt’s Travel, $50 Condo Deal
Still, the disclosure, coming on top of existing probes of Pruitt’s reliance on first-class flights and frequent travel to his home state of Oklahoma, has spurred bipartisan calls for further investigations and even the EPA administrator’s resignation.
Republicans and Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have requested information on Pruitt’s housing situation, and watchdog groups have asked the EPA’s inspector general to build on existing probes of Pruitt’s travel to also scrutinize the rental arrangement.
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