EPA removes staffer whose report questioned Pruitt’s security needs: report

EPA removes staffer whose report questioned Pruitt’s security needs: report
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed a career employee Tuesday who signed off on a report that Democrats used to undermine Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittDon’t be silenced in the name of ‘transparency’ Pelosi seizes on anti-corruption message against GOP Al Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' MORE’s security needs, Politico reported.

Mario Caraballo was the deputy associate administrator of the EPA's Office of Homeland Security.

His office wrote a report in February evaluating a memo by Pruitt’s security detail that reported various apparent threats against him to justify his need for 24-hour security and first-class flying, among other steps.

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Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Overnight Energy: Trump elephant trophy tweets blindsided staff | Execs of chemical plant that exploded during hurricane indicted | Interior to reverse pesticide ban at wildlife refuges Overnight Defense: Officials make show of force on election security | Dems want probe into Air Force One tours | Pentagon believes Korean War remains 'consistent' with Americans MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Defense: Officials make show of force on election security | Dems want probe into Air Force One tours | Pentagon believes Korean War remains 'consistent' with Americans Dems call for investigation of Trump Air Force One tours Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press MORE (D-R.I.) used the report earlier Tuesday, along with other information from the Secret Service and elsewhere, to call into question Pruitt’s security actions, which have cost millions of dollars.

A source told Politico that the EPA justified firing Caraballo by citing an issue from his military service years ago that had been resolved and reviewed by the EPA, but that agency leaders were unhappy with Caraballo’s report.

The EPA confirmed that Caraballo was removed Tuesday.

"The action today was based on a recommendation by the Office of Administration and Resources Management. I am not aware of any connection between the personnel matter and the document mentioned in media reports," Donna Vizian, the agency's principal deputy assistant administrator, said in a statement, declining to comment further. 

In a joint statement, Carper and Whitehouse called the timing of the firing "deeply troubling."

"This development underscores the need for the Environment and Public Works Committee to conduct effective oversight of the EPA to answer the serious questions that have come to light in recent days concerning management and ethical conduct by the Administrator and his staff," they said.

Carper is the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Whitehouse is a senior member on that panel.

They used Caraballo’s report, and the other documents, to push Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Trump EPA to defend Obama smog rule | Wheeler gets warmer welcome before Senate | Animal rights groups sue Interior over pro-hunting council EPA’s Wheeler gets warmer welcome at Senate hearing Trump has no plans to endorse in Tennessee GOP governor's race: report MORE (R-Wyo.) to hold a hearing on Pruitt’s security costs.

Barrasso slammed their letter and said he would not hold a hearing.

“Any reasonable reading of these documents supports the Office of the Inspector General’s statements that Administrator Pruitt faces a ‘variety of direct death threats,’” he said. “This is exactly why members should not publicly disclose information that relates to the safety of a cabinet member.”

— Miranda Green contributed

Updated: 6:22 p.m.