Trump backs Pruitt amid ethics controversies

Trump backs Pruitt amid ethics controversies
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE is giving Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law Top Dem: EPA slowed ‘politically charged’ FOIA requests Majority of registered voters say Pruitt 'conducted himself inappropriately' at EPA: poll MORE a vote of confidence, despite the mounting ethics troubles that are causing headaches for the administration.

"I hope he's going to be great,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Baltic state leaders.

A White House official said Trump phoned Pruitt on Monday night.

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The president told the EPA chief to “keep your head up, keep fighting” and that “we have your back,” according to multiple media reports.

White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE called Pruitt Tuesday morning to reiterate Trump’s message.

The calls come amid a flurry of negative headlines for Pruitt. The Atlantic reported Monday that Pruitt used an obscure legal provision to bypass the White House and give raises to two top staffers.

That came on the heels of a Washington Post report that the EPA considered a $100,000 per month private jet lease for Pruitt, who already faces an inspector general probe into alleged travel abuses.

Pruitt is also under scrutiny for a $50 per month condo lease linked to lobbyists whose clients later received approval for a pipeline expansion plan. The lobbyists and the EPA have denied any wrongdoing.

The disclosures have prompted calls from lawmakers for additional investigations into Pruitt’s living situation, and some have demanded his resignation.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Pruitt for information on his rental agreement, and Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are asking GOP leaders to open a probe into Cabinet travel controversies, including Pruitt’s.

Trump has already parted ways with two Cabinet officials who were beset by ethics problems: Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVA nominee heads to full Senate confirmation The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Anticipation builds for Trump’s SCOTUS pick The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Dramatic battle looms after Kennedy’s retirement MORE and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Mueller indicts 12 Russian officials for DNC hack | Trump does damage control after bombshell interview MORE.

But the president is said to be pleased with the job Pruitt has done in rolling back environmental rules and regulations, one of Trump's core campaign promises.

Pruitt is announcing Tuesday that the administration will roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.

Still, it’s not clear how long Pruitt will enjoy Trump’s confidence. The White House denied Trump had plans to oust national security adviser H.R. McMaster one week before he replaced him with John Bolton.

Updated at 12:42 p.m.