Trump, Pruitt met for handshake after Rittenhouse was found guilty of fraud

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, thanked Trump and asked for help in a statement following a verdict that put Rittenhouse on trial for alleged wire fraud and obstruction of justice

A prominent Republican congressman who helped appointed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said on Monday that Donald Trump met with a man accused of defrauding Pruitt and called him “a nice young man”.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the GOP energy lobbyist, was found guilty on Monday of fraud and obstruction of justice following his indictment by a federal grand jury. The 29-year-old was one of more than 50 former employees who said Pruitt manipulated the EPA’s hiring practices in order to provide favors for clients.

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Rittenhouse was accused of defrauding the agency in January, according to federal investigators. The indictment alleges that Rittenhouse fraudulently bid on construction and renovation projects for the Capitol Hill townhouse Pruitt rented and then accepted a $9,000 fee and a three-bedroom home in Virginia, where Rittenhouse was registered as the property’s sole occupant.

Trump, who has made a habit of lambasting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Monday tweeted a photo of him shaking Rittenhouse’s hand.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Great meeting with today’s Decision today’s Decision, a really nice young man. I was sad when the charges were brought. Always felt very much like a mistake could be made that would be corrected, but this time, it would not.

Rittenhouse was arrested in April, less than a month after Pruitt resigned under a cloud of ethics and scandal that emerged from his lavish spending on air travel, his office renovation and security detail, and reports of extravagant perks while overseeing the EPA’s outreach to states. Pruitt at the time held a press conference with Republicans to respond to questions about his behavior.

“This was a bad situation that got a little worse,” said US congressman Andy Biggs at the press conference.

In a statement on Monday, Pruitt thanked Trump and asked for help in a statement following the verdict.

Andrew Wheeler (@ASwheelerWHPK) Thank you for the prayers.

Thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for standing by me and for standing up for the American people.

I will not stop fighting to move the United States of America forward.

Gerrymandering does not hold me back from advancing the policies that serve the American people.

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