Energy & Environment

Trump EPA chief ordered drivers to speed when running late, says internal report

Then-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt instructed his security detail to drive above the speed limit to make appointments, sometimes to the point of “endanger[ing] public safety,” according to a federal report first obtained by The New York Times

In the report, federal agents wrote that Pruitt, who often ran late, frequently told his drivers to “speed it up” and prompted them to use sirens and lights, asking, “Can you guys use that magic button to get us through traffic?”

In 2017, Pruitt directed an agent to turn on the lights and sirens while driving into oncoming traffic to pick up the then-administrator’s dry cleaning while he was 35 minutes late to a meeting, according to the report. 

Agents said Pruitt both specifically directed drivers to use lights and sirens and directed them “implicitly through his body language and cues.” 

In at least one case, the report states, an agent told Pruitt that the lights and sirens were only to be used in emergency situations rather than to make up for simple lateness, which noticeably upset Pruitt and caused him to fall silent for “an uncomfortable time.”

The agent was removed from their position within days, according to the report. 

The witness “described that this action sent a clear message to the [protective security detail] that if you didn’t perform the bidding of the Administrator, you would lose your job,” the report states. “This idea made for many uncomfortable times where PSD agents were directed to use lights and sirens in violation of … policy and public safety.” 

Pruitt, President Trump’s first EPA chief, left the position in 2018 following a series of controversies around expenditures and ethics rule.

These included using his role to seek job opportunities for family members, installing a $43,000 soundproof room from which to make private phone calls and requiring around-the-clock armed security.

In April, Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, announced that he would run in the special election to succeed Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has announced his retirement at the end of the current Congress, four years before the end of his current term. 

In a statement to The Hill, Pruitt dismissed the report as “The New York Times coming after me again.”

“The left doesn’t want me back in Washington because they know I will reverse their terrible policies. I will fight the radical environmental groups in order to restore energy independence,” he said.

Updated at 11:34 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump EPA Scott Pruitt Scott Pruitt
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