Conservative activists plead with Trump not to fire Pruitt

Amid swirling controversy surrounding Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a group of well-known conservative activists came out in support of the EPA chief on Friday.

The Conservative Action Project - a group that includes former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins - backed Pruitt in a letter by detailing "actions he has taken to implement President Trump's deregulatory agenda.

"President Trump campaigned on reducing Washington’s bureaucracy, and Administrator Pruitt has been instrumental to that effort," the group wrote. "His leadership has helped President Trump keep his promises in a number of critical areas which conservatives support."

Pruitt’s role in the Trump administration has been under fire recently amid reports that he accepted a $50 a day condo rental from the wife of a lobbyist and allegedly approved a controversial pay raise for two of his staff members.

Pruitt, though, told Fox News Wednesday that he just "found out about" the pay bumps this week and "changed it."

"I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it," Pruitt said.

The letter from the conservative activists comes in stark contrast to calls from Democratic leaders for Pruitt to resign. On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed that Pruitt "displayed a staggering ethical blindness." On the same day, dozens of House Democrats sent a letter to Trump demanding Pruitt’s resignation.

"Scott Pruitt’s unethical behavior, wasteful use of taxpayer money, and his efforts to undermine the EPA’s core mission to protect our environment and public health demand an appropriate response: his resignation or his firing," the Democrats wrote.

Despite the calls for Trump to get rid of Pruitt, however, the conservative activists claimed the work he has done should ensure his position.

"Overall, Administrator Pruitt has finalized 22 deregulatory actions, saving American families and businesses more than $1 billion in costs. He is critical to President Trump’s efforts to streamline agency efforts in a way that assists American families and the economy," they wrote. "We applaud President Trump for his appointment of Scott Pruitt and support his continued tenure at the EPA."

The letter, according to the Conservative Action Project, was sent to 600 conservative activists and all Republican members of Congress.

For his part, Trump doubled down in support of his embattled EPA chief on Friday, disputing reports that he was considering replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Pruitt.

"Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege," Trump asked in a Friday morning tweet. "Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt!"

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.