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E&E News: Morano: “You have no idea how refreshing Donald Trump is. We’re as happy as Roseanne that Trump is president.”

Skeptics who aided Pruitt see a chief with nothing to lose

Scott Pruitt could be poised to adopt a more aggressive approach against climate science after conservatives rallied around the embattled EPA chief.

Media scrutiny on the ethical lapses dogging Pruitt seem to have strengthened his bond with President Trump, according to those familiar with the president’s thinking. Trump sees much of himself in Pruitt — a renegade Washington outsider perceived as being under siege by Democrats and the press.

Conservatives who have championed Trump’s policies from the outside have mounted an effective campaign to defend Pruitt. Those organizations are influential in today’s administration and see Pruitt as a dyed-in-the-wool defender of their core beliefs, from property rights to Christian values.

“[Trump] has actually referenced it in meetings, that people have been weighing in on Pruitt’s behalf,” said an industry source who talks with “industrialists and movement conservatives” in Trump’s inner circle.

Conservatives have launched a media blitz to buoy Pruitt. On Wednesday, 22 conservative movement leaders — led by climate skeptic group the Heartland Institute — sent Trump a letter defending Pruitt’s “record of leadership” that said “radical environmentalists and the biased media are trying to force him out of office” in an “example of selective outrage by those you defeated in your election” (E&E News PM, April 11).

That support has buttressed Pruitt against rumors that some White House aides, including chief of staff John Kelly, want him gone. Trump has stuck by him. He now knows who his friends are, and his friends are Trump’s friends.