Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and architect of President Trump’s aggressive effort to rewrite the government’s rule book on environmental regulations, resigned on Thursday in the face of numerous ethics investigations that doomed his tenure.
Despite Mr. Pruitt’s efforts to nurture a close relationship with the president, Mr. Trump himself announced the resignation in a tweet sent from Air Force One. He thanked Mr. Pruitt for an “outstanding job” and said the agency’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, would take over as the acting administrator on Monday.
Mr. Pruitt in his resignation letter cited “unrelenting attacks on me personally” as one of the reasons for his departure. Mr. Pruitt had been hailed by conservatives for his zealous deregulation, but he could not overcome a spate of questions about his alleged spending abuses, first-class travel and cozy relationships with lobbyists.
Mr. Pruitt also came under fire for enlisting aides to obtain special favors for him and his family, such as reaching out to the chief executive of Chick-fil-A, Dan T. Cathy, with the intent of helping Mr. Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn, open a franchise of the restaurant.
The resignation appeared to happen quickly.
On Wednesday, Mr. Pruitt attended two Fourth of July parties, one at the White House and another at the Interior Department. One attendee who spent time with him said he spent the night mingling, shaking hands, watching the fireworks and showing no indication that he planned to step down. His chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, also gave no hint of what was ahead.
An individual close to Mr. Pruitt said the president acted after he found one particular story in recent days embarrassing: a report that Mr. Pruitt had asked Mr. Trump to fire Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, so that Mr. Pruitt could run the Justice Department.
The idea had been discussed privately for months by the president, who occasionally asked advisers if it was a good idea, according to two people familiar with the discussions. But seeing those deliberations being aired publicly, amid a string of other damaging reports, focused Mr. Trump’s attention, a person close to the president said. Fresh allegations that Mr. Pruitt had retroactively altered his public schedule, potentially committing a federal crime, had also escalated concerns about him at the White House, according to a White House aide. On Thursday afternoon, around 1:30, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, reached out to Mr. Pruitt to tell him the time had come.
Mr. Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who built his career on lawsuits against the agency he would eventually lead, remained a favorite of Mr. Trump’s for the majority of his tenure at the E.P.A. He began the largest regulatory rollback in the agency’s history, undoing, delaying or blocking several Obama-era environmental rules. Among them was a suite of historic regulations aimed at mitigating global warming pollution from the United States’ vehicles and power plants.