Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt came under fire after two of his favored aides received massive pay raises.
The White House had reportedly rejected Pruitt’s request asking for pay raises, but the administrator decided to invoke a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which The Atlantic reports is “meant to help expedite the hiring of experts and allow for more flexible staffing.”
The provision allows Pruitt to hire employees without gaining approval from the White House or Congress. Shortly after the White House rejected Pruitt’s request for pay raises, his two aides were approved to receive salary increases of $28,130 and $56,765.
A day after this news made headlines, Pruitt gave an exclusive interview to Fox News and claimed he did not know about the pay raises.
"Now if you're committed to the Trump agenda, why did you go around the president and the White House and give pay raises to two staffers?" asked Fox News national correspondent Ed Henry.
"I did not, my staff did and I found out about it yesterday and I changed it," Pruitt responded.
"So who did it?" Henry questioned.
"I don't know," said the EPA administrator.
"You don't know? You run the agency, you don't know who did it?" Henry said.
"I found out about this yesterday, and I corrected the action. And we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it," Pruitt said.
Henry then explained to Pruitt that one of the aides got a pay raise that was as much as the median income of the country per year, which is $57,000.
“They didn't get a pay raise," Pruitt responded. "I stopped that yesterday."
When asked if he admitted to this mistake, Pruitt said his staff was fixing thing, but did not accept his mistake.
After this situation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if Trump is OK with Pruitt's actions, to which she replied, "The president's not, we're reviewing the situation."
Thumbnail / Banner : Reuters, Yuri Gripas