There have been enough firings and resignations from the Trump White House that a pattern is starting to emerge. If it holds true this time, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt should probably start cleaning out his desk.
Donald Trump told reporters on the back of Air Force One this afternoon that Pruitt had “done a fantastic job” in the face of adversity, likely referring to Pruitt’s efforts to gut clean air and water regulations.
A reporter asked if Trump was bothered by recent reports alleging Pruitt had abused his position. Pruitt has been revealed to frequently fly first class on taxpayers’ dime, renting a below-market apartment from a lobbyist, and demoting employees who questioned his behavior.
Trump responded: “I have to look at them. … I’ll make that determination. But he’s a good man, he’s done a terrific job. But I’ll take a look at it.”
Corruption scandals just keep ricocheting through the administration, and whenever Trump calls someone a “fine man” or praises their personal character, that’s often a sign they’re on their way out. The praise has come in past runs-up to a top official’s dismissal for corruption, lying, or misuse of public funds—moments when their character is publicly in question.
Mere hours before Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price was dismissed for using private and military jets at taxpayers’ expense last September, Trump called him a “very, very fine man.”
When Trump announced that his drug czar nominee Tom Marino had withdrawn from consideration (after reports showed he’d pushed legislation that may have worsened the opioid crisis) the president called Marino a “fine man.”
Days before advisor Stephen Bannon was ousted from the White House, Trump referred to him as a “good man,” adding, as he did about Pruitt, that the future was unclear. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump said.
Mike Flynn, the disgraced national security advisor who was fired for lying to vice president Mike Pence, was “a fine man” too, Trump said, just after Flynn was forced to resign.
On the other hand, chief of staff John Kelly and attorney general Jeff Sessions, two appointees who are often rumored to be leaving the administration, but have not been fired, are rarely praised by Trump for their character.