Trump hails EPA chief despite scandals

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Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt laughed off questions Wednesday about whether he used his office to try to help his wife get a "business opportunity" with Chick-fil-A, while a close aide abruptly resigned amid new ethics allegations against her boss.

The EPA defends his use of his security detail, saying in a statement: "Administrator Pruitt follows the same security protocol whether he's in his personal or official capacity".

President Donald Trump is standing by his embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief, even as the scandals and federal investigations continue to mount.

He's "doing really, really well", Trump said Wednesday, at a gathering with Pruitt and other agency and Cabinet leaders. "Somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott". But when asked for comment by the Atlantic about Hupp's resignation, EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox simply said, "You have a great day, you're a piece of trash".

Hupp told lawmakers that Pruitt had her conduct numerous personal errands, including inquiring about buying a used mattress.

Pruitt is now the subject of 12 separate government investigations for allegedly violating federal ethics laws by using staff for personal business, excessive spending habits, and conflicts of interest. The EPA gave no reason for her departure.

The EPA chief is the subject of several investigations into alleged ethical lapses. Three other senior Pruitt staffers resigned earlier this spring.

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A representative for Chick-fil-A said Pruitt's wife started but did not complete a franchisee application, according to the newspaper.

"I mean, look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself".

In a story June 7 about the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency legal counsel Sarah Greenwalt, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Greenwalt was one of two aides due to speak this month to House committee staffers investigating Pruitt.

The reporter posted a video of the interview on Twitter. They were his first comments since it was reported that he used a top aide to inquire about a "business opportunity" with the fast-food company.

"Chick-fil-A is a franchise of faith and it's one of the best in the country, and so, that's something we were very excited about, so, and we need more of them in Tulsa and we need more of them across the country", said Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Tom Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked EPA inspector general Arthur Elkins on Thursday to investigate whether Pruitt is illegally using his EPA post to drum up business deals for his family.

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