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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 PruittEPA puts science ‘transparency’ rule on back burner Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports 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 CarperOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight 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 BarrassoWhy grizzly bear hunting season isn’t happening Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms 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.