Pruitt dined with cardinal accused of sexual abuse: report

Pruitt dined with cardinal accused of sexual abuse: report
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court rejects new effort to stop kids' climate lawsuit | Baltimore is latest city to sue over climate change | EPA staffers worried about toxic chemical in Pruitt's desk Pruitt staffers worried about toxic chemical in his desk Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE reportedly dined in Rome last year with a Catholic leader who was under investigation at the time for child sexual abuse, according to newly published records.

The New York Times on Thursday released a series of internal communications obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request that show Pruitt dined at a five-star restaurant with Cardinal George Pell in June 2017. Pell, like Pruitt, has expressed skepticism about man-made climate change.

Documents obtained by the Times show that EPA officials began planning for the dinner in May 2017. Pell had also offered to give Pruitt a tour of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, which apparently did not take place.

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The Times reported that none of the EPA schedules from that day noted that Pell was at the dinner with Pruitt.

Prior to the trip, EPA officials learned that Pell was under investigation, according to The New York Times's Eric Lipton. 

Pell has since been put on trial related to charges of sexual abuse spanning decades. 

The EPA didn't immediately respond to a request to comment from The Hill on Thursday night. 

Pruitt has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid a slew of ethics controversies.

Previous reports have revealed that Pruitt racked up millions of dollars' worth of travel and security expenses, including reportedly bringing his detail to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. Pruitt justified his first-class travel by saying it was based on security precautions.

He has also come under fire for renting a Capitol Hill condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 each day he stayed there, and constructing a $43,000 soundproof booth in his office.

During testimony on Capitol Hill last month, Pruitt said those controversies were largely matters handled by his staff or distractions from his agency's efforts to carry out Trump's agenda.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE is "pleased with the job that [Pruitt] is doing." However, the White House has said it is hopeful Pruitt can answer questions about his ethical controversies.