EPA chief faces Capitol Hill grilling over ethical missteps

WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt testified today in potentially make-or-break hearings on Capitol Hill, where he faced questions about spending and ethics scandals that have triggered bipartisan calls for his ouster.

Pruitt read a prepared statement about his agency's fiscal year 2019 budget priorities to begin the first of two back-to-back hearings before House subcommittees.

On the ethics issues swirling around him, Pruitt said he had nothing to hide.

"Facts are facts and fiction is fiction," Pruitt said, adding that many of the media reports about him were twisted half-truths and lies.

The public grilling comes amid erosion in support for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after a monthlong swarm of negative headlines about outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease.

President Donald Trump has continued to stand by his EPA chief. But behind closed doors, White House officials concede Pruitt's job is in jeopardy. A growing list of Republican lawmakers has joined Democrats in calling for new investigations into Pruitt's actions.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said Pruitt's behavior has begun to hurt Trump's credibility, as well as the Republican Party generally.

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