It’s hard to imagine how we got to a place in American politics where it no longer surprises us to find out that people lied under oath, abused their office, or otherwise acted in a way unbefitting a public servant. Then you remember the guy at the head of it all and silently nod.
It’s not like there’s never been corruption in politics before the Trump era, nor that it’s confined to a single political party — left and right, it’s nothing new. It’s just that it’s never been so blatant before. And that’s a direct product of the way Trump has undergone his appointment process: Pick the least qualified person possible for a position, make sure that they actually hate the office they’re being appointed to, and watch them tear it apart from the inside.
EPA Director Scott Pruitt will be historically remembered as one of the most corrupt politicians of all time, and it’s hard to tell from his ongoing behavior whether or not that bothers him in any way.
He’s already been subject to more than one Congressional hearing, and it was at his most recent that he once again lied to federal authorities — seemingly Pruitt’s default reaction to being asked any question at all — this time about not just ethical lapses in his office, but legal ones.
This time, however, Pruitt is being held to account in real time.
The EPA Administrator’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski told ABC News in an interview that Pruitt was a “bold-faced” liar when he claimed in front of a Congressional panel that no employees in his office had faced retaliation over Pruitt’s very public ethics scandals. Chmielewski says he was “100 percent” forced out of his job when he refused to sign off on first-class air travel for Pruitt’s staffers, having been pulled aside by a man who was friendly to him inside the department, but who himself was forced into the uncomfortable position of demanding Chmielewski’s resignation.
His own former boss, Ryan Jackson, told Chmielewski:
Hey, Administrator Pruitt either wants me to fire you or put you in an office so that he doesn’t have to see you again.”
According to ABC, the news agency obtained a form from the EPA saying Chmielewski resigned on March 17 — but it wasn’t signed by the whistle-blowing former employee.
If it can be proven that Pruitt lied under oath to Congress, it won’t just result in a removal from his job. Scott Pruitt will be headed to jail.