Two of EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s top aides, Albert “Kell” Kelly and Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, have resigned amid increasing scrutiny against them and, particularly, Pruitt, whose unethical practices as EPA head have come under fire, per The Washington Post.
Kelly was a top aide at the EPA who was hired to spearhead the agency’s cleanup of toxic sites and to lead a task force to improve the Superfund program. Kelly resigned on Tuesday amid scrutiny of his previous actions as the leader of an Oklahoman bank, including an FDIC fine of $125,000 and eventually, his lifetime ban from banking.
Perrotta, head of Pruitt’s personal security detail, announced his retirement on Tuesday, but surprisingly cited the actions of his boss. Perrotta will testify in front of Congress about his role in Pruitt’s unprecedented, several million-dollar security arrangements. Perrotta was planning to step down this summer, but instead he decided now was the time, according to officials.
While his department has been heavily criticized, Pruitt isn’t off the hook. He faces several investigations by the agency’s inspector general, particularly for his questionable actions and lavish spending, including installing a soundproof phone booth for his office and the renting of a condo from a lobbyist at a very cheap rate.
Pruitt was complimentary of both Kelly and Perrotta, saying that they had “selflessly served the American people for more than 23 years.” Kelly and Perrotta join a sea of Trump administration officials who have departed the White House after less than two years of a Trump presidency.
According to WaPo, despite mounting scandals, Pruitt is still aiming high as he has his eyes set on another White House position: Attorney General. Per the Post last month:
Pruitt has made no secret inside the West Wing of his ambition to become attorney general should Trump decide to fire Jeff Sessions, who he frequently derides for his decision to recuse himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
White House officials have grown agitated that Pruitt and his allies are privately pushing for the EPA chief to replace Sessions, a job Pruitt has told people he wants. On Wednesday night, Kelly called Pruitt and told him the president was happy with his performance at EPA and that he did not need to worry about the Justice Department, according to two people familiar with the conversation.