During Thursday’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing many Republicans rushed to the defense of embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, to the surprise of exactly no one.
Texas’ Joe Barton bemoaned that “<Pruitt is> not the first person to be the victim of -for lack of a better term- Washington politics,” while David McKinley of West Virginia clucked that this morning’s hearing was a “classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism.”
To Barton’s point, if Pruitt is the victim of anything it’s his own lack of ethics and ultimately (hopefully), the findings of nearly a dozen pending White House Office of Management and Budget, GAO (Government Accountability Office) and House ethics investigations into his spending habits.
And to McKinley’s point, I’d merely offer the actual evidence that lead to those ongoing investigations. Evidence is pretty much the opposite of innuendo. Pretty sure we learned that from Schoolhouse Rock.
But while House Republicans largely ignore Pruitt’s transgressions, CNN’s Sahil Kapur warned them that they -and Donald Trump- do so at their own significant risk:
“There is no greater danger to President Trump and his popularity than the appearance of corruption and swampiness. The magic of his candidacy was that people believed him when he said he was too rich to be bought off or corrupted, and the more these things come out, the more these drip-drip-drips come out, the easier it is for Democrats to run on this culture of corruption.”
It’s astonishing that this point needs to be made at all, but even more astonishing? That it’s reaffirmed on a daily basis thanks to never-ending scandals and the ever-lowering ethical standards of the Trump administration. Case in point: Scott Pruitt’s own talking points for today’s hearing, a dazzling collection of omissions and lies.
Still, so long as there are people like Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to speak truth to Pruitt, there’s hope. Pallone rebuked Pruitt this morning when he offered that “What you have done is generate scandal after scandal. When confronted about them, you have refused to take responsibility for your actions. Instead, you’ve blamed your staff, your security detail, your critics… pretty much anyone but yourself. And you’re accountable for all of your actions. The buck stops at your desk.” He added “I don’t say those words because I particularly dislike you or hold you in ill-repute. I just think that every indication we have is you really should resign and you are undeserving of the public trust.”
So, yeah… there’s hope. Not much sleep so long as the GOP betrays their values and the nation’s trust, but there’s hope.