GOP senator defends Pruitt: Some criticisms are 'overblown'

Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsNative American group denounces Trump for using Wounded Knee in attack against Warren GOP senators rebuke Trump for using 'Wounded Knee' as 'punchline' Overnight Defense: Senators say questions remain after Syria briefing | Trump inches closer to declaring emergency to build wall | Air Force accepts Boeing tankers despite flaws MORE (R-S.D.) on Sunday defended Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Watchdog investigating EPA enforcement numbers | EPA's Wheeler faces Senate grilling | Interior's offshore drilling staff returning to work during shutdown EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Watchdog files ethics complaint against EPA head MORE amid a firestorm of ethics controversies, saying the agency head has done a good job implementing President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE's agenda.

"The reason why all of the emphasis right now is on Mr. Pruitt is because he is executing these policies and they’re not popular policies with a lot of people. But he is executing policies this president said he would put in place," Rounds said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Pruitt has faced intense scrutiny in recent days following reports that he rented a room in a condo owned by the wife of a prominent energy lobbyist during his first several months in D.C. The unit cost him $50 a day, he only paid for nights that he slept there and his daughter occasionally stayed in the condo as well.


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has launched an investigation into the housing arrangement.

In addition, it was reported that Pruitt authorized raises for two of his top staffers despite the White House rejecting the pay increase, and that he cost taxpayers millions of dollars on security and travel costs.

Other Republican senators have expressed concerns over Pruitt's behavior.

Rounds said Sunday that he's unsure how big of a deal each of the controversies really are. For example, he questioned if having a large security detail warrants someone's firing.

"I don’t know how much of it is overblown and how much of it is accurate," he said. "I’m not going to call it fake news, I’m going to say in some cases we'll overblow something."

"Let's take a look at how many dollars the EPA can actually save. The big picture," he continued. "You know, we'll nitpick little things. He has too many people on his security detail. It may add up to, to more than what the previous guy did. But what about the big picture."

Trump defended Pruitt late Saturday, brushing aside the housing controversy and saying the EPA head is "doing a great job."