How Scott Pruitt avoided tough questions on Tuesday

As questions swirled over whether or not he can hold onto his administration post, embattled Environmental Protection...

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 9:05 AM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 9:05 AM

As questions swirled over whether or not he can hold onto his administration post, embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared calm on Tuesday as he touted the agency's decision to revise greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles.

But most reporters who cover the agency weren't in the room, and cameras were nearly non-existent.

EPA had previously planned to hold Pruitt's appearance Tuesday at a Chevrolet dealer in Chantilly, Virginia, just outside of Washington, Jeff Pohanka with Pohanka Chevrolet told CNN. But the event was canceled, Pohanka said.

The New York Times reported that there was pushback from some Chevy dealers who didn't want to see the brand tied to the Trump administration's announcement.

The event was subsequently moved to EPA headquarters, but with limited press access. A CNN journalist in the building was not allowed into the room for the event.

EPA had attempted to allow television camera access to Fox News without informing the other four networks: CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS. Fox alerted the networks and a pool was established allowing networks equal access to the event.

The agency has not responded to a request for comment.

Pruitt is under intense scrutiny in the wake of reports that he rented a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma Energy company. But when Pruitt spoke at EPA headquarters on Tuesday, he did not address the controversy or take any questions from reporters.

There were several journalists in the room, including from The New York Times, Bloomberg and ABC News, according to one reporter in attendance, who added that it sounded like many of the reporters were notified of the event individually just before it took place and ran over. EPA did not send a wide notice of the event to the agency press list.

EPA only tweeted out a link at 9:33 a.m. on Tuesday with a link to watch Pruitt's speech live.

In a video posted by ABC News, congressional correspondent Mary Bruce shouted questions at the administrator as he appeared to be filing out of the room after his remarks on Tuesday, asking: "Administrator Pruitt, do you have the President's support?" Pruitt did not answer.

On Tuesday morning, the Times' Hiroko Tabuchi tweeted that the newspaper had not been invited to "an invitation-only event at EPA headquarters" where the administrator would be "surrounded by friendly press and industry reps." Shortly after, Tabuchi tweeted: "UPDATE: NYT has now been invited to this announcement."

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