Overnight Energy: Trump praises Pruitt for doing 'great job' | Lawmakers want criminal probe of Pruitt | Heckler brings lotion bottle to Pruitt speech

Overnight Energy: Trump praises Pruitt for doing 'great job' | Lawmakers want criminal probe of Pruitt | Heckler brings lotion bottle to Pruitt speech
© Greg Nash

MORE PRAISE FOR PRUITT FROM TRUMP: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE said Friday that embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittPruitt made one phone call to White House using K soundproof booth Walmart becomes latest retailer to ban chemicals found in paint strippers Juan Williams: Trump weaves web of corruption MORE "is doing a great job."

But Trump put a slight caveat in his praise for the EPA head, saying Pruitt isn't completely "blameless."

"Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records," Trump said as he prepared to leave for the G7 conference in Canada. He did not specify what "records" are being set.

"Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press," Trump continued. "And I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens."

Context: It's the second time Trump has offered public praise for Pruitt this week.

"EPA is doing really, really well," Trump said at a Federal Emergency Management Agency meeting. "Somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott."

The praise comes during a week when the scandals centered on Pruitt's ethical and spending decisions, and his use of taxpayer-funded staff and resources, are piling up.

Read more.

Why it matters: Trump is once again demonstrating that he'll stand by Pruitt through these scandals, even as they continue to pile up.

This week, the scandals started to really get on the nerves of congressional Republicans, and White House officials have long wanted Pruitt out. But Trump isn't budging.

 

Happy Friday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

 

LAWMAKERS CALL FOR FBI INVESTIGATION INTO PRUITT: A group of Democratic lawmakers are seeking a criminal investigation of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt following a slew of reports that Pruitt may have used his position to benefit himself and his family.

Who signed the letter: Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin The Hill's Morning Report — Trump optimistic about GOP’s midterm prospects as Republicans fret Overnight Energy: New EPA chief faces test before Congress | Trump officials tout progress on air quality | Dem bill would force watchdog to keep investigating Pruitt MORE (D-Va.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech MORE (D-Md.), Rubin Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalRecord numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress Liberal Dems lay groundwork to push 'Medicare for all' Dems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients MORE (D-Wash.).

The letter asked FBI Director Christopher Wrey and acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan to open an investigation into Pruitt in a letter sent Friday, highlighting their grave concerns with the EPA head.

"EPA Administrator Pruitt has used his public office and official, taxpayer-funded resources for the personal gain of himself and his family, in violation of federal law," the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

Their request follows reporting this week that Pruitt had his executive scheduler request a meeting with top leadership at fast food company Chick-fil-A with the purpose of securing a job for his wife, Marlyn Pruitt.

Pruitt and his scheduler's requests in the early days of his tenure were documented in internal EPA emails released this month in troves of emails to the Sierra Club through a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Administrator Pruitt directly, and admittedly, used EPA resources to attempt to secure a job for his wife," the letter to the FBI director read.

"At the very least, we know that federal ethics laws bar public officials from using their position or staff for private gain. Administrator Pruitt has certainly done just that."

Pruitt didn't defend the meeting he set up with Chick-fil-A and appeared to admit to its purpose in an interview he gave with a Nextstar reporter Wednesday.

Read more here.

Why it matters: There are currently 12 separate federal investigations into actions taken by Pruitt but they are largely being undertaken by the Government Accountability Office and EPA's Inspector General. If the FBI were to open a case into Pruitt it would be the first of its kind.

 

PRUITT HECKLED WITH LOTION BOTTLE: A protester interrupted Pruitt's address at a conference for the religious right on Friday, holding up a bottle of lotion to make fun of a recent report that Pruitt's staff had been tasked with running errands for him.

Shortly after Pruitt began to address the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C., a woman stood up and began shouting at him. She held a large bottle of lotion above her head as security immediately escorted her out and the crowd began to chide her.

Pruitt briefly addressed the incident, framing it as indicative of the "left" and its approach toward him.

"The left doesn't want to talk about truth, the left doesn't want to talk about results. They just want to shout and try to intimidate," he said.

Read more.

Pruitt speaks of 'transformational time': In his speech to the conference, Pruitt said the work he and Trump are doing will be felt for generations.

"This is a transformational time. There are certain times in history that when you're living in them you recognize that what's happening is going to impact generations into the future," Pruitt told the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual Road To Majority conference.

"This is reminiscent of the 1980s. This is reminiscent of when [former President Ronald] Reagan was in office saying that we can do better for the American people," he continued.

"We must embrace, we must advance, we must make change."

The embattled EPA chief did not mention any of the numerous spending and ethics controversies centering on him over recent months.

Read more.

 

THE WEEK THAT WAS: In case you missed it, this week featured daily revelations about Pruitt scandals, mostly related to allegations that he used official resources or power for personal gain.

On Monday, congressional Democrats released transcripts in which Millan Hupp, Pruitt's scheduler, said he asked her to do personal tasks like trying to buy a used Trump International Hotel mattress and spending personal and work hours to help him search for a Washington, D.C. condo to live in.

Tuesday, The Washington Post was first to report that Pruitt and aides worked to get his wife, Marlyn, a Chick-fil-A franchise, and successfully got her an event planning gig with another company.

On Wednesday, Hupp along with another Pruitt staffer, Sarah Greenwalt, resigned and we learned that the White House reportedly told Pruitt to stop dining at their cafeteria.

Thursday, the Post reported that Pruitt had his staffers and security guard complete tasks like looking for a lotion he wanted from Ritz-Carlton hotels and picking up his dry-cleaning.

Congressional Republicans indicated they're getting tired of the constant stream of scandals.

Separately, the House passed its first appropriations legislation for fiscal 2019, including the bill to fund the Energy Department and water development.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

The Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee for the Interior Department and EPA will consider its bill to fund those agencies for fiscal 2019 Tuesday.

The House Natural Resources Committee will vote Wednesday on five bills on American Indian affairs and federal lands.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will bring in all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an oversight hearing Tuesday.

That committee's water and power subpanel will hold a hearing on three bills in its jurisdiction Wednesday.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California plans to vote again in July on the proposed Delta Tunnels project, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Residents of Minden, W.Va., pleaded with an EPA official to put parts of the town on the Superfund list to help clean up PCBs, the Beckley Register-Herald reports.

Pennsylvania regulators are, for the first time, planning to regulate methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out stories from Friday ...

-Iran criticizes US for Saudi oil request: report

-Lawmakers call for criminal investigation into EPA chief

-Toyota offered to give Pruitt test drive in new Lexus: report

-House approves first 2019 spending bills

-Trump: Pruitt 'is doing a great job'

-Pruitt: 'This is a transformational time'

-Protester brings lotion to heckle Pruitt during speech