WASHINGTON: Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, yet another Trump administration official with his job on the line over ethical concerns, took heat from lawmakers Thursday over his profligate spending and lobbyist ties and tried to divert responsibility to underlings.

The EPA administrator said “twisted” allegations against him were meant to undermine the administration’s anti-regulatory agenda, and he denied knowing details of some of the extraordinary spending done on his behalf at the agency.

The public grilling at back-to-back House hearings, called formally to consider EPA’s budget, came as support has appeared to erode for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after revelations about unusual security spending, first-class flights, a sweetheart condo lease and more. Even Republicans who heartily support Pruitt’s policy agenda said his apparent lapses had to be scrutinized.

Democrats excoriated him.

“You are unfit to hold public office,” said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey.

“You’ve become the poster child for the abuse of public trust,” said Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland.

Although most of the Republican lawmakers at the hearings rallied around Pruitt, reviews were mixed. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, chairman of the first panel that questioned Pruitt, said afterward the EPA chief was “a little vague,” adding, “It’s never a good idea to blame your staff in public.”

Asked whether Pruitt should resign, he said that’s not his call and suggested that’s up to President Donald Trump.

Thursday’s hearings were Pruitt’s first major appearance since a Fox News interview in early April that was widely considered to be disastrous within the West Wing.

Before Congress, the administrator demonstrated his background as a lawyer, giving clipped answers and sticking to repeating rehearsed talking points.

He visibly bristled on occasion as Democrats pressed about the many financial allegations against him, then relaxed when Republicans on the panel gave him openings to expand on his policy steps at EPA.

Mocking Pruitt’s opponents, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said that as far as the EPA chief’s critics were concerned, “I think the greatest sin you’ve done is you’ve actually done what President Trump ran on.”

“It’s shameful that this day has turned into a personal attack,” said GOP Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio.

Trump has stood by his EPA chief, but behind closed doors, White House officials concede Pruitt’s job is in serious jeopardy.