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Former Trump Aide Is Now Working With Democrats to Take Trump's EPA Chief Down

Former Trump Aide Is Now Working With Democrats to Take Trump's EPA Chief Down
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pruitt is expected to face tough questioning about his stance on climate change and ties to the oil and gas industry. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing new allegations of potentially criminal behavior, adding to the staggering number of corruption scandals in which he is embroiled.

Former EPA Deputy Chief of Staff and former Trump aide Kevin Chmielewski told five congressional Democrats who are currently investigating previous accusations of Pruitt's abuses of power that Pruitt instructed staffers to make travel arrangements that would allow him to accumulate more frequent flier miles, in addition to staying in expensive hotels and flying on airlines that are not on the government's approved list.

Chmielewski, who was fired last week after he blew the whistle on Pruitt's spending habits, also told lawmakers that Pruitt made the demands for personal travel to his home state of Oklahoma.

Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (MD), Gerald Connolly (Va.), Donald Beyer (Va.) and Sens. Tom Carper (Del.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) drafted a six-page letter to Pruitt detailing Chmielewski's allegations. The letter instructs Pruitt to hand over any documents pertaining to the claims made by Chmielewski.

Mr. Chmielewski claims that when he first started in his role as a politically appointed Senior

Executive Service official at EPA, Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson informed him that "the nightmare

is now yours." Mr. Chmielewski said those words turned out to be accurate.

As Mr. Chmielewski learned more about your wasteful spending, irresponsible travel and

inapprOpriate security efforts, he reported that he also learned that "every time you tried to find

out about something you got in trouble." He said that when he refused to approve your

inappropriate and unethical spending, he claimed he was marginalized, removed from his senior

position and placed on administrative leave. He said that he watched as others were punished,

demoted, and retaliated against when they tried to resist inappropriate directions that came from

you or through your favored staff.

Allegations of unethical and potentially illegal spending patterns have been swirling around Pruitt, who has been accused of bilking taxpayers for excessive personal & travel expenses, as well as unnecessarily heightened personal security. Pruitt is also alleged to have fired staffers who either confronted him, refused to comply with, or reported his nefarious behavior.

“The new information provided by Mr. Chmielewski, if accurate, leaves us certain that your leadership at E.P.A. has been fraught with numerous and repeated unethical and potentially illegal actions on a wide range of consequential matters,” the letter says.

Chmielewski also told congressional investigators that one of his aides, Millan Hupp, was instructed by Pruitt to “act as your personal real estate representative, spending weeks improperly using federal government resources and time to contact rental and seller’s agents, and touring numerous properties in which you might wish to reside.”

The letter takes additional aim at Pruitt for renting a condo owned by the wife of a lobbyist at a substantially discounted rate, stating that “you had never paid any rent to him, and that your daughter damaged his hardwood floors by repeatedly rolling her luggage across the unit when she was staying there.” According to the letter, Pruitt's daughter's luggage damaged the condo's wood floors while she stayed there last summer for a White House internship.

President Donald Trump has remained fiercely loyal to Pruitt throughout the ever-widening scope of his clearly corruptive behavior. "Scott is doing a great job," Trump tweeted last week. Just how far Trump's loyalty to Pruitt goes, however, is unknown. Like Trump, Congressional Republicans have stood steadfastly behind Pruitt, largely thanks to his aggressive rollbacks of Obama-era environmental regulations.

Yesterday, 63 members of Congress drafted a letter to Trump demanding that he fire Pruitt if he does not immediately resign. Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) tweeted about the notice to Trump on Wednesday evening.

Scott Pruitt has been nothing but toxic as an EPA Administrator in the pocket of lobbyists. That is why I joined 63 of my colleagues in a letter to President Trump demanding Pruitt be fired if he does not immediately resign.

Former George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter described Pruitt as "crook of the week" in a scathing tweet earlier this afternoon.

Crook of the week: Squandering taxpayer money, taking payoffs from lobbyists and destroying the environment, all at the same time. With several different email accounts so nobody can keep track of it

According to a new poll released today by Public Policy Polling, Pruitt has an abysmal 29 percent approval rating. The poll indicated 65 percent of voters think Pruitt should be fired, while only 30 percent think he should remain in office.