WASHINGTON (AP) - An Environmental Protection Agency lawyer said he wasnâ€™t provided the full facts when he ruled there was no ethics violation in Administrator Scott Pruittâ€™s lease of a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo with ties to a fossil fuels lobbyist.
Meantime, White House officials sounded increasingly doubtful about Pruittâ€™s future in the administration, though President Donald Trump threw a public lifeline to his embattled environmental chief.
Trump, asked if he still has confidence in Pruitt, while boarding Air Force One on Thursday, responded, â€śI do.â€ť
In a letter dated Wednesday, EPA ethics lawyer Kevin Minoli said his finding last week that Pruitt was paying fair-market value was based on the assumption that Pruitt occupied only one bedroom for $50 a night, as outlined in the lease.
Media reports later disclosed that Pruittâ€™s college-aged daughter occupied a second bedroom in the unit while she interned at the White House last summer. Minoli said he did not consider the value of a second room in his analysis.
Pruitt paid about $1,000 a month, less than a third of what Minoliâ€™s review found nearby two-bedroom homes listed for.
â€śSome have raised questions whether the actual use of the space was consistent with the terms of the lease,â€ť Minoli wrote Wednesday. â€śEvaluating those questions would have required factual information that was not before us and the review does not address those questions.â€ť
The Associated Press obtained a copy of Minoliâ€™s letter, which was first reported by CNN.
Pruitt had gone on the offensive Wednesday trying to shore up his position in a series of interviews with Fox News and conservative media outlets during which he continued to suggest he had lived alone.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Trump is not OK with some of the details that have emerged, including news this week of enormous raises awarded to two of Pruittâ€™s closest aides. Pruitt says he didnâ€™t approve the raises and doesnâ€™t know who did.
On Thursday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News: â€śI canâ€™t speak to the future of Scott Pruitt.â€ť