EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns

Under fire for ethics scandal, Pruitt calls it quits

WASHINGTON — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who pleased President Donald Trump by rolling back environmental regulations but came under fire for travel and security expenses and a condo arrangement, has resigned, Trump said on Thursday.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency," Trump said on Twitter. He said EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler would become acting chief of the agency on Monday.

Pruitt faced a dozen investigations by the EPA inspector general, Congress and the White House.

Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, has been under scrutiny for months amid reports involving questionable spending on first-class plane tickets, use of security detail, connections with lobbyists and industry groups, and use of his office for favors.

According to The Washington Post, Pruitt pushed to find his wife a well-paying job with a politically connected group.

Two Democratic lawmakers asked the EPA's inspector general on Thursday to investigate new allegations that Administrator Scott Pruitt falsified his official schedule to hide or remove records of meetings or discussions with industry representatives.

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer and Ted Lieu cited remarks by Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff, in an interview with CNN about how Pruitt held routine meetings to "scrub, alter or remove from Pruitt's official calendar numerous records because they might 'look bad.'"

Beyer and Lieu, in their letter to the inspector general, said the allegations were supported by an analysis of Pruitt's public calendars.

"We would have meetings (about) what we were going to take off on the official schedule. We had at one point three different schedules. One of them was one that no one else saw except three or four of us," Chmielewski told CNN. "It was a secret ... and they would decide what to nix from the public calendar."

Pruitt had been part of a Trump administration push to revise vehicle emissions standards. Earlier this year, Pruitt said standards on model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles should be changed, reversing a decision on tighter standards put in place by the Obama administration in January 2017.

Reporting by Eric Beech and Doina Chiacu.

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