GOP senator defends Pruitt: Some criticisms are 'overblown'

Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsPowell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (R-S.D.) on Sunday defended Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule Restoring the EPA: Lessons from the past MORE amid a firestorm of ethics controversies, saying the agency head has done a good job implementing President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills 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."