"We've only gotten half-truths", Lawmakers grill EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks

"Facts are facts and fiction is fiction", the embattled agency chief told a House of Representatives panel.

"Facts are facts and fiction is fiction", Pruitt said.

Rep. Pallone also made a direct call for Pruitt's removal saying the "level of secrecy, conflicts of interest and scandal at the EPA" rendered the former Oklahoma attorney general ill-equipped for the job.

If Pruitt does stay in the job, these Republicans will be useful allies.

Pruitt said he was "not aware of the amount" of the raises and would not give a straight "yes" or "no" answer to whether he authorized them, but he admitted he authorized his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, to sign off on the salary increases. Trump is known to be a devoted viewer.

"It's never good to blame your staff".

Democrats were more blunt.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said Pruitt was unfit to hold the public's trust and should resign.

To Trump, Pruitt's actions at the EPA are among the reasons why Republicans are sticking with the President.

Most of those are being conducted by the EPA's inspector general, though a House oversight committee is also investigating.

"Nobody on the left made Scott Pruitt install a $43,000 phone booth, cone-of-silence in his office, Steve", she schooled Moore.

Thursday's hearings will be Pruitt's first major appearance since a Fox News interview in early April that was widely considered to be disastrous within the West Wing. With each passing day and each passing headline, it sounds more and more like the president is considering firing Pruitt.

Environmental groups were quick to wring hands and gnash teeth and are already campaigning to block the rule from being finalized, primarily because it would end the reliance on non-public data the Obama administration used to justify extensive regulatory hurdles on USA industries, including the oil and natural gas industry. In recent days, five Republican Congress members have joined their ranks in calling for his ouster. Some said his controversies were too big to ignore and asked for clarifications, while others defended him against what they called "a classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism".

Fellow Republican Gregg Harper of MS decried the " political bloodsport" of going after Trump administration officials. And when he didn't sleep in the space, Pruitt still could leave "limited" belongings behind in the condo, located a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, according to his lease.

"There's no truth to the assertion that positions have been reassigned".

"I don't think Cabinet members have to be 100 percent ideal", he said. "They're going to accommodate it, but the boss is the one who has to make sure it's a reasonable imposition on taxpayers", Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said in a back-and-forth exchange about the phone booth. And he justified his 24-hour security team by reciting some of the personal threats he has received.

"Those were delegated to Mr. Jackson", Pruitt responded.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said officials were "evaluating these concerns and we expect the EPA administrator to answer for them".

The EPA chief's revised story sent shock waves through the media and the public, with Pruitt's line of reported scandals already raising intense criticism among his opponents who say it's time for him to step down.

Pruitt also said he was not aware that proper protocols were bypassed to issue the raises. Pruitt's trip to Italy to attend the G-7 Summit and tour the Vatican in June 2017 cost $120,000.