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 3:38 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 697182

Reported Deaths: 8169
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1427711862
Ramsey59431953
Dakota53075503
Anoka48987486
Washington31228315
Stearns25428242
St. Louis20900339
Scott20039146
Wright18954165
Olmsted16269112
Sherburne13840106
Carver1237052
Clay936897
Rice9278125
Blue Earth888747
Crow Wing8070102
Kandiyohi753292
Chisago733858
Otter Tail689897
Benton6653102
Mower576238
Winona564852
Goodhue560581
Douglas549484
Beltrami534672
Itasca532572
Steele520221
McLeod519665
Isanti500470
Morrison478263
Nobles455650
Becker455060
Polk444575
Freeborn438142
Lyon402454
Carlton399160
Nicollet387848
Pine384026
Mille Lacs363860
Brown358244
Cass355536
Le Sueur348230
Todd333034
Meeker314049
Waseca297626
Martin271633
Wabasha25005
Dodge24865
Hubbard241941
Roseau238224
Houston211217
Redwood206642
Fillmore204510
Renville204248
Pennington196022
Wadena192927
Faribault184925
Sibley180310
Cottonwood179424
Chippewa173439
Kanabec168329
Aitkin159239
Watonwan157211
Rock142919
Jackson136112
Pope13378
Yellow Medicine128720
Pipestone126126
Koochiching125119
Swift120319
Murray117610
Stevens110011
Clearwater109218
Marshall107619
Lake94321
Wilkin91014
Lac qui Parle89424
Mahnomen7339
Big Stone7024
Grant6938
Norman6829
Lincoln6724
Kittson54222
Unassigned52893
Red Lake5067
Traverse4375
Lake of the Woods4204
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443535

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Unassigned50150
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
Humboldt151626
Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
Chickasaw141618
Palo Alto134527
Clarke130226
Montgomery127940
Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
Howard118422
Ida109838
Davis105025
Greene103012
Pocahontas102623
Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
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Decatur76710
Fremont76511
Van Buren75221
Taylor73412
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Ringgold63027
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