Fox News to Pruitt: Is Draining the Swamp Renting From a Lobbyist?
If Scott Pruitt thought Fox News would go easy on him, he was wrong. In an heated sit-down with correspondent Ed Henry, the embattled U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator was on the defense about his latest scandals.
Henry asked about The Atlantic's report that the EPA used a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act to give two of Pruitt's closest aides large pay raises in defiance of the White House.
The two staffers had worked with Pruitt since he was attorney general of Oklahoma. One staffer received a 53 percent raise, boosting the salary more than $164,000. Another got a 33 percent raise, increasing the salary to nearly $115,000.
But Pruitt claimed he did not know about the salary bump until Tuesday.
"You don't know? You run the agency. You don't know who did this?" Henry asked.
"I found out about this yesterday, and I corrected the action," Pruitt said.
WATCH: @edhenry sits down with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt to discuss controversial pay raise for two of his staff membe… https://t.co/YxvjCye7BW— Fox News (@Fox News)1522885706.0
Henry then grilled the environmental chief about his alleged $50-a-night condo rental from an oil lobbyist's wife.
"Didn't President Trump say he was gonna drain the swamp?" he asked Pruitt. "Is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?"
"I don't even think that that's even remotely fair to ask that question," Pruitt replied.
Pruitt also insisted to The Washington Examiner on Tuesday that paid a market rate for the Capital Hill condo.
"I'm dumbfounded that that's controversial," he said.
In response to the Fox interview, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said, "Pruitt could not even save himself from humiliation on Donald Trump's favorite news outlet by lying. Pruitt knows he's in hot water with Trump for directly defying him and is saying and doing anything to save his job. Pruitt has said he's dumbfounded by the outrage around his scandals. We continue to be dumbfounded as to how he still has is job."
"He appeared 12 times on Fox News during his first six months in office, twice as many times as he appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. The hosts at Fox and other right-wing outlets often ask Pruitt softball questions, giving him a comfortable platform from which to repeat his favorite talking points and push items on his agenda. Pruitt made some of his earliest mentions of his idea to create a sham red team/blue team exercise on climate science on The Savage Nation, a fringe right-wing talk show hosted by conspiracy theorist Michael Savage, and on the Breitbart News Daily radio show."
But could the tide be finally turning against the scandal-plagued EPA boss?
Earlier this week, news emerged that Fox News was the only media organization invited to the administrator's announcement of his plan to ease Obama-era auto efficiency standards. However, the channel ending up tipping off other news outlets about the announcement.
Scott Pruitt tried to let only a Fox camera into the room for his announcement today on reducing fuel efficiency st… https://t.co/cd8dPyaUL6— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1522786827.0
President Trump has also changed his tune about his top foot soldier. Just days after the Trump called Pruitt to offer support about the condo scandal, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday "the president's not" OK with Pruitt's conduct.
"We're reviewing the situation. When we have had the chance to have a deeper dive on it we'll let you know the outcomes of that," she added. "But we're currently reviewing that here at the White House."
Following the latest ethics controversies, a number of Washington lawmakers are calling for Pruitt to resign or be fired, including two Republicans, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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