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Two top Scott Pruitt aides resign; Facebook has more troubles with user data.
“You’re a piece of trash,” and other lessons of the EPA’s PR strategy
- The Environmental Protection Agency is hemorrhaging employees, but Scott Pruitt just wants to talk about how much he loves Chick-fil-A. [Jessica Smith via Twitter]
- Two top Pruitt aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, resigned from their positions today. Greenwalt was senior counsel at EPA, while Hupp was an advance official who did Pruitt’s scheduling. Both were holdovers from his days as Oklahoma attorney general. [Washington Post / Brady Dennis, Josh Dawsey, and Juliet Eilperin]
- The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott broke the news of Hupp resigning today, and for that, EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox’s only comment was, “You have a great day, you’re a piece of trash.” [Atlantic / Elaina Plott]
- There had been a deluge of ridiculous EPA news before the two women resigned. First, news broke that Hupp had tried to help Pruitt procure a used pillowtop mattress from the Trump Hotel in DC. [NBC News / Dartunorro Clark]
- Then, as if on cue, more news broke about Pruitt attempting to broker a business opportunity with Chick-fil-A, trying to set up a meeting with the goal of getting his wife a restaurant franchise. (The Pruitts really love Chick-fil-A, apparently). [NYT / Lisa Friedman]
- The Senate has grilled Pruitt about his actions multiple times in recent months. He’s facing about a dozen investigations into his conduct, and support for him is cracking on both sides of the aisle. Republican Sen. Joni Ernst recently called Pruitt “about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C.” [Politico / Eric Wolff]
- Pruitt has now racked up an incredible number of ethical and legal complaints, including the aforementioned mattress snafu, a taxpayer-funded $43,000 phone booth, a highly subsidized housing deal with a lobbyist’s wife, a 20-person security detail, and a super-expensive fountain pen order. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
- Ethics scandals have taken down several Trump Cabinet officials, like Tom Price and David Shulkin, who both lost the White House’s backing after reports of their expensive travels surfaced. But Pruitt, who has delivered Trump several environmental deregulation wins, seems to be staying on the president’s good side. Trump praised Pruitt Wednesday for “doing really, really well.” [The Hill / Timothy Cama]
Huawei-t, Facebook, you did what with user data?
- Facebook has confirmed that it gave user data to Huawei, a Chinese smartphone company that US intelligence agencies have flagged as a security threat because of its ties to the Chinese government. [CNN / Jethro Mullen and Dylan Byers]
- Huawei is among four Chinese telecom companies that Facebook has data-sharing agreements with, dating back to 2010. In these partnerships, Facebook gives the companies private access to some user data, which Huawei used to feed a phone app that lets users see their messages and social media accounts in one place. The social media company has similar contracts with companies like Amazon and Apple. [NYT / Michael LaForgia and Gabriel J.X. Dance]
- The US government has been cracking down Huawei in recent months. The Pentagon banned Huawei devices from being sold on US military bases, and six intelligence officials warned Americans not to buy the products in a Senate hearing in February. Military officials are reportedly scared that the Chinese government could use Huawei devices to track and locate users. [The Verge / Shannon Liao]
- Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have had a tough year when it comes to Washington — and this latest development isn’t helping. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are raising alarm about Facebook’s partnerships with China. [Vanity Fair / Maya Kosoff]
- Mira Sorvino has told the Today show she plans to celebrate if Harvey Weinstein is convicted. She’s not alone. [BuzzFeed / Krystie Lee Yandoli]
- As a far-right German politician swam in a lake last week, a thief stole his clothes while shouting, “Nazis need no bathing fun!” And then began the long, half-naked walk home. [Washington Post / Avi Selk and Rick Noack]
- Despite a terrible performance and equally terrible reviews, Jared Leto’s depiction of the Joker is getting its own feature film. [Variety / Justin Kroll]
- Today marks the 20th anniversary of Sex and the City. The fictional Carrie might suggest celebrating with a cigarette and getting laid. Alternatively, you could just kick back and watch an episode. [i-D / Georgie Wright]
“I feel a responsibility to try to be as funny as possible. We’re talking about an hour of their night that’s a release — not pretending things aren’t happening.” [Comedian John Mulaney to NYT / Molly Lambert]
Watch this: Cryptocurrency, explained
Cryptocurrency has made people billionaires, but is digital cash the next revolution? Learn about this anonymous currency and why it’s so coveted on the latest episode of Explained, our weekly show Netflix show. [Netflix]