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 4:36 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 5:08 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 666516

Reported Deaths: 12726
CountyCasesDeaths
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Lake48687890
Allen36102644
Hamilton32445398
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Elkhart25510420
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Ohio54211
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 977736

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1129551251
Cuyahoga968561881
Hamilton738821067
Montgomery47506923
Summit40668831
Butler35827531
Lucas35779720
Stark29581826
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Lorain22190424
Mahoning19578551
Lake18545332
Clermont18519205
Delaware16597121
Licking15089194
Fairfield14644188
Trumbull14423424
Greene13659221
Medina13517237
Clark12376256
Wood11656170
Portage11127172
Allen10820216
Richland10372188
Miami10059194
Muskingum8238117
Columbiana8168210
Pickaway8094111
Tuscarawas8075232
Marion8020127
Wayne7933199
Erie6961146
Ross6173132
Geauga6114142
Hancock6030121
Scioto600488
Ashtabula5998154
Lawrence527586
Union516341
Darke5052116
Belmont4999137
Huron4859108
Jefferson4836137
Sandusky4798112
Washington474396
Seneca4734111
Athens466149
Mercer459781
Auglaize456582
Shelby442679
Knox4054105
Putnam400593
Madison395455
Fulton383161
Ashland382683
Brown374852
Defiance373788
Crawford360098
Logan357373
Preble353987
Clinton342455
Highland328451
Ottawa325371
Williams303568
Jackson291846
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Morrow261437
Henry247861
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Van Wert230157
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Adams218239
Pike217228
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Hocking195054
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Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117237
Morgan102120
Harrison100731
Vinton76613
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