A group of current and former officials in President Donald Trump’s administration could be the sources of leaks regarding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt, news reports suggest.
Pruitt came under fire, more recently, for stories leaked to reporters about the administrator renting a room from a D.C. lobbyist’s wife, circumventing the White House to get close aides pay raises and, most recently, sidelining staffers who challenged him on running the agency. Multiple media reports suggest the leaks are coming from current and former Trump administration officials.
Former White House official Rob Porter is reportedly one of the leakers, sources told Inside EPA. The leaks were a “tit for tat” for EPA senior counsel Samantha Dravis telling White House counsel Don McGahn Porter assaulted his two ex-wives, one source said.
Dravis caught Porter with former White House aide Hope Hicks and kicked him out of the apartment they shared, a second source told Inside EPA. Porter was forced to resign in February and may have leaked information Dravis told him about Pruitt.
“Dravis likely did not intend to harm Pruitt when she shared information with Porter and that Porter’s access to the information — including that he lived for a time last year in a below-market-rate, lobbyist-owned Capitol Hill townhouse — was due to their relationship,” one source told Inside EPA.
Dravis resigned her position at EPA last week — the news of which broke March 29. Dravis had been considering leaving for some time, the former senior counsel’s friend told The Hill, adding it’s “one drama after another.”
Porter, however, is just one suspected leaker. “Porter may not be the only source providing information about Pruitt’s questionable behavior,” an Inside EPA source also said. “There are EPA officials who have been treated badly by him who may also be leaking information.”
A “recently dismissed EPA political appointee is behind a string of controversial stories about Pruitt that have come to light in recent weeks,” an administration source supportive of Pruitt said, Politico cited on Wednesday.
That staffer “would have had access to key details about Pruitt’s travel and living arrangements,” Politico reported. But the staffer in question “rejected the accusations when contacted by Politico.”
The New York Times published a detailed report on five EPA staffers who were reassigned or removed from their positions in 2017 — allegedly for questioning Pruitt. Only one of those staffers The Times mentioned, Kevin Chmielewski, was a political appointee.
Chmielewski “flagged some of his concerns about Mr. Pruitt directly to the White House’s presidential personnel office,” two officials told The Times. The report cites “current and former” administration officials, suggesting the leaks aren’t relegated to EPA.
Specifically, Chmielewski challenged Pruitt aides on a “$100,000-a-month charter aircraft membership” and “$70,000 to replace two desks in Mr. Pruitt’s office suite, including his personal desk and one at a security station outside his office,” NYT reported.
Security official “questioned Mr. Pruitt’s desire to use flashing lights and sirens in his motorcade” and was “reluctant” to sign-off on approvals for Pruitt to fly first class, three people, who worked “with or for” EPA, also told NYT.
CBS News first reported the siren incident on Thursday, which allegedly took place several weeks after Pruitt took office. CBS cited an unspecified number of anonymous sources.
“This is a group of disgruntled employees who have either been dismissed or reassigned,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in an e-mailed statement.
Democrats and environmental activists are calling for Pruitt’s removal; but so far, Trump has publicly defended the former Oklahoma attorney general. Trump considered Pruitt for the U.S. Attorney General job, despite the ethics controversies, CNN reported.
“Scott’s doing a great job where he is,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.