Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

As ethics controversies continue to swirl around EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, many observers in Washington are wondering how long he might be able to hang onto his job.

The view from the West Wing: Axios' Jonathan Swan spoke with sources close to President Trump and this basic picture emerged: If nothing else bad comes out against Pruitt, they’ll probably ride through the storm with him. But should more damaging stories surface — especially ones that demonstrate poor ethical judgement — Pruitt could be abandoned in a flash. Trump is uneasy about the situation, and has his finger in the wind.

"Not" cool: ICYMI, when asked yesterday whether President Trump is OK with Pruitt's $50-per-night deal last year for the room in a condo owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders replied, "The President is not."

  • "We’re reviewing the situation. When we have had a chance to have a deeper dive on it, we’ll let you know the outcomes of that," she said at a briefing yesterday.
  • Why it matters: It showed the White House going public with its widely reported concerns about Pruitt, who faces questions and bad headlines around the condo deal as well as controversial raises for top aides.

About those raises: As Axios' Haley Britzky noted yesterday, Pruitt said in a Fox News interview Wednesday that he just learned of big pay raises for two aides that came to Washington with him:

  • “I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it."
  • The intrigue: That follows a report in The Atlantic that "Pruitt ordered" the pay boosts — $28,130 and $56,765 — for the two aides using special authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House rejected the request. EPA did not provide comment.

Pruitt's allies push back: More via Swan, who reports that Pruitt’s allies are back-channeling several messages to Trump in a bid to save the EPA chief, including:

  • Don’t let the left take down Pruitt. This is really about ideology, and people on the left who don’t like his aggressive moves to unwind regulations.
  • Firing Pruitt would bring endless trouble. Pruitt's backers say the left — and they lump the mainstream press into that category — won’t be satisfied if Pruitt goes. They’ll just move onto the next cabinet secretary.

A reality check: Per Swan, White House officials he's spoken with have little patience for those defenses of Pruitt. They blame him and him alone for his ethical missteps, particularly the condo.

  • And White House sources are hearing rumors from colleagues in the administration that there’s more to come. If there are legitimately bad facts still unreported, it’s hard to see how he survives.

Late-breaking: CNN reported last night that the EPA's top ethics official, who had previously signed off on Pruitt's condo situation, "clarified his earlier analysis of whether . . . Pruitt's rental arrangement broke the federal gift rule, saying he didn't have all the facts when evaluating the lease."

Go deeper

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman will not run for re-election, citing "partisan gridlock"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!