“And let’s have no illusions about what is really going on here”.
Environment America opposed Pruitt’s nomination for EPA Administrator because of his abysmal record on the environment and his documented disparagement of the agency he would run.
“I was not aware of the amount”, said Pruitt, trying to find some way that he hadn’t lied to Ed Henry in that Fox interview.
“If you can’t debate the policies, you attack the personality, and that’s what’s happening to you”, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), said, adding that Pruitt was “the victim of Washington politics”. These range from questions regarding the soundproof booth he had installed in his office and high travel costs to the townhouse rental he had in his early Washington D.C. days and newer issues regarding an Oklahoma real estate deal that has raised some questions.
“Mr. Administrator, the evidence is clear”, said Rep. Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat.
Cardenas, following up, asked Pruitt if he was blaming his staff for the episode.
Pruitt is also accused of excessive spending on travel, staying at expensive hotels while traveling – even if they exceeded allowable federal spending limits – and telling staff to book flights on Delta Air Lines so he could accrue frequent flier mileage. Did Pruitt fight back hard enough to make Trump want to fight back on his behalf? Pallone said he had requested for Pruitt’s testimony to be under oath at the hearing, but the request was declined by the committee chair.
A second administration official told The Atlantic that the email “essentially says, ‘The administrator said that I should get this raise'”.
The hearing was ostensibly called to review the EPA’s fiscal year 2019 budget. “If something happened in my office, especially to the degree of $43,000, I know about it before, during, and after”.
Many EPA officials – including conservative political appointees – are hoping the EPA administrator goes up in flames, two EPA officials told CNN.
“I have nothing to hide”, Pruitt said in his opening remarks at a packed morning hearing by the House Committee on Energy and the subcommittee on the environment. Despite the fact that Trump’s first budget ordered the EPA’s budget slashed by 24 percent and staffing levels cut by 20 percent, Pruitt’s twenty person team is three times as large as previous administrators, according to a separate Times article.
“They either know something nobody else does or they’re that naive”, one official said. But behind closed doors, White House officials concede Pruitt’s job is in jeopardy.
Regarding his $50-per-night condo lease from an energy lobbyist’s wife, Pruitt said the arrangement received ethics approval and noted that the EPA inspector general’s office had found it to be roughly market rate. “We need you”, he implored the workers.
Pruitt, for his part, believes the White House is leaking damaging details about him and is “out to get him”, in the words of a Pruitt ally.
“I’m concerned about some of the allegations I’ve heard”, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) told The Hill.
The attacks were bipartisan, coming from both Democratic members and the Republican chair.
Lieu added, “if Donald Trump wants to keep him in the cabinet of corruption it helps Democratic messaging, absolutely”. “I’m not aware of any government time being used”, he said. “But if you work for the President of the United States, it’s usually a wise thing to listen to his direct employees”. Meanwhile, outside the House building where the hearing was taking place, activists brought anti-Pruitt signs that read “Boot Pruitt” and “Pruitt endangers human health”. The real question is how long the White House will stick with Pruitt after his missteps and the sensational headlines he dismisses.
The Associated Press reported that Perrotta typically sat next to Pruitt on the plane.
Rep. Frank Pallone, the ranking Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked if it was correct that EPA management had retaliated against at least five staff members, including those who pushed back on hefty travel expenses that are now the subject of multiple investigations.