WASHINGTON - Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has resigned from his post. The resignation comes after months of controversies, with Pruitt citing "unrelenting attacks" on himself and his family as a reason for his departure.
President Trump tweeted the news yesterday. The resignation takes effect immediately.
"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency, Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this."
Trump confirmed that Pruitt's deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will assume the role of Acting Administrator, beginning Monday. "I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!" Trump tweeted.
Response to Wheeler's appointment has been mixed. Wheeler, who began his career in the 90s at the EPA, has been criticized in the past by environmentalists for his stance on climate change and lobbying efforts for the coal industry.
“I am both humbled and honored to take on this new responsibility at the same agency where I started my career over 25 years ago," Wheeler said in a memo.
Pruitt's resignation follows months of controversy. The former EPA administrator had drawn the attention of federal investigators with one scandal after another, often involving his spending of taxpayer money on himself and his family.
Over a dozen official inquiries include a deal he made with the wife of a top energy lobbyist for discounted housing, large raises he gave friends against White House instruction, and choosing to always fly first-class. He also reportedly tried to secure his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise - enlisting aides to assist her in finding lucrative work elsewhere. He also had a $43,000 phone booth installed in his office.
In addition, CNN found that Pruitt and his staffers would "scrub" meetings from his calender - removing anything controversial. The CNN investigation sparked two Democratic congressmen to insist the EPA inspector general investigate Pruitt for committing a federal crime.
The resignation comes soon after a woman approached and berated Pruitt in a restaurant. A video of the confrontation went viral.
Pruitt was an effective implementer of President Trump's agenda. In his short time as administrator, Pruitt aimed to scale down Obama-era protocol on climate change, and automobile and other pollution standards. As recently as June 8, Trump praised Pruitt, saying to reporters that he was "doing a great job" and that "we're setting records."
After the resignation, Trump voiced his support for Pruitt. He said he accepted the resignation letter because Pruitt believed he had become a distraction.
"He'll go on to great things," Trump told CNN. "He's going to have a wonderful life, I hope."
In the letter, Pruitt cited unrelenting attacks:
"It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring," Pruitt wrote. "However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us."
See the full letter below:
Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as Administrator of the EPA. Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your Administration. Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes as well as historical regulatory reform, is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.
That is why is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as Administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6. It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.
My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.
Your Faithful Friend,
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