Working With Scott Pruitt Political pressure is building on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Lawyer David Rivkin worked with Pruitt and talks with NPR's David Greene.

Working With Scott Pruitt

Working With Scott Pruitt

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Political pressure is building on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Lawyer David Rivkin worked with Pruitt and talks with NPR's David Greene.


Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is facing pressure to resign after reports that he spent taxpayer money on lavish trips and first-class travel. Democrats want to investigate reports that Pruitt rented a condo linked to a fossil fuel lobbyist at a bargain price. And even Republicans are joining in. Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida called Pruitt's conduct, quote, "an embarrassment."

Let's bring in someone who knows Scott Pruitt well. David Rivkin is a conservative commentator and a constitutional lawyer who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also worked alongside Pruitt for years representing Oklahoma when Pruitt was that state's attorney general. Mr. Rivkin, welcome.

DAVID RIVKIN: Good to be with you.

GREENE: I understand you talk to Scott Pruitt fairly often. I mean, he is - has been seen as one of the rising stars in the Trump administration. How worried is he right now?

RIVKIN: I don't think he is worried at all. I think these attacks are driven entirely by the fact that he is one of the effective members of a Cabinet, loyal to the president, carrying out his agenda, getting a lot of things done and working extremely hard. So I really do not think he's going to make a dent. And I think everybody in Washington understands that these attacks are not driven by merit, not driven by any facts.

GREENE: You think there are explanations about, you know, spending taxpayer money on this first-class travel, explanations for this condo that's linked to a fossil fuel lobbyist that will satisfy people like even Congressman Curbelo, a Republican who called all this an embarrassment.

RIVKIN: I do, and most importantly, I think it satisfies the president. Again, look, my experience of working with Scott for a number of years is that he is a man of exceptional property (ph) extremely hardworking, committed to the rule of law. I find the notion that his judgment was in any way skewed by the things you are talking about to be absolutely preposterous.

GREENE: Even if they weren't, his judgment was not skewed. I mean, I guess it's possible that ethics investigators and so forth could find that he did something improper, even if it's not about his judgment, right?

RIVKIN: I absolutely believe that he has sought advice on all those matters. Again, this is the man I had the privilege of working with for a number of years. This was a man who is absolutely unassuming, austere in his personal habits. The notion that - look, I remember talking to him about work at 10, 11 o'clock at night. This is a man who travels in order to get things done. He does not travel because he enjoys it. And let me tell you, even the notion that flying these days, whether in (ph) coach and first class, is somehow pleasant, that's something you do for personal enjoyment, is just silly.

GREENE: The president on Monday said, quote, "we've got your back." I just want to play a quick clip of the president on Tuesday.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I hope he's going to be good.

GREENE: That sounded like a little bit of a faint praise of Pruitt. Are you worried that the president might be losing confidence?

RIVKIN: No, I really don't. Of course, the question - that should be posed to the president, but I think he has strong support from the president, again, driven by merit. This is a person who is committed to the president's agenda, who's committed to the rule of law. He's working extremely hard and accomplishing everything he's supposed to accomplish. I, frankly, think even in this Cabinet there are very few people you can say that about. And I don't see anybody who can, frankly, do the kind of job he is doing.

GREENE: David Rivkin is a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who represented the state of Oklahoma when Scott Pruitt was the state's attorney general. He stays in touch with the EPA administrator, talking to us about him this morning. Mr. Rivkin, thanks so much.

RIVKIN: Good to be with you.


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