EPA records question need for Pruitt’s 24/7 security, senators say

EPA records question need for Pruitt’s 24/7 security, senators say
© Greg Nash

Internal Environmental Protection Agency documents don’t support the EPA's contention that Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections MORE needs round-the-clock security and first-class flights, two leading Democratic senators say.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court MORE (D-R.I.) said on Tuesday that various records question the EPA’s contentions that Pruitt has faced an “unprecedented” number of death threats and that the agency “has identified specific, ongoing threats associated with the administrator’s air travel.”

“These assertions do not appear to be consistent with the non-public EPA documents we have obtained,” the two senators wrote in a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Wyo.).

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Carper, the top Democrat on the panel, and Whitehouse, a senior member, are asking Barrasso to convene oversight hearings into Pruitt’s security practices.

Carper and Whitehouse said the agency's Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team found that Pruitt’s security detail “has not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA administrator.”

EPA had also requested a pair of Secret Service reports, neither of which found “reports of behaviors of interest directed toward EPA Administrator Pruitt,” the lawmakers added.

“It is hard to reconcile the public statements of EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments,” the Democrats wrote.

“It may be that the materials we have been provided are incomplete and that EPA has additional information that justifies its public position. However, another view is that certain factions within EPA have justified the exorbitant taxpayer spending incurred by the administrator’s first-class travel and large entourage of security personnel through unsubstantiated claims about threats to his security, either at the direction of the administrator himself or others in the agency.”

Pruitt has been under fire for months for how he spends taxpayer money. A 24-7 protection detail with 19 agents — which The Associated Press said has cost $3 million — is a focus, as is first-class travel in the name of security.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE indicated this past weekend that Pruitt’s security spending is acceptable to him.

“While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA,” he tweeted.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox also defended Pruitt’s practices.

“Scott Pruitt has faced an unprecedented amount of death threats against him and these threat assessments are conducted within [Office of Enforcement] using information collected from the [security detail], EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, and Inspector General. Americans should all agree that members of the president’s cabinet should be kept safe from these violent threats,” Wilcox said in a statement.

Carper and Whitehouse said the EPA justified Pruitt’s security spending based in part on an October memo summarizing the supposed threats against him.

That memo described protesters disrupting a speech Pruitt gave, a social media post expressing a desire to speak with Pruitt about the author’s displeasure and a postcard saying, in part, “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!!! We are watching you.”

“Notably, none of the incidents listed in this report concerned air travel and the only threat to Administrator Pruitt currently being prosecuted by a United States Attorney’s office was a threat made to him and his predecessor Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyIt's time for Congress to address the 'forever chemical' crisis Overnight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage MORE,” the senators said.