Politics Email challenges Pruitt account on motorcade lights, siren

00:38  17 may  2018
00:38  17 may  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt reportedly tried to use his motorcade 's sirens and lights in Washington DC traffic so he could speed up his trips to the airport or dinner.

facebook linkedin twitter email copy link. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt wanted his motorcade to use its lights and sirens to speed up local trips to the airport or dinner, three people who worked with the agency said in a New York Times report published Thursday.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Pruitt goes before a Senate panel Wednesday as he faces a growing number of federal ethics investigations over his lavish spending on travel and security. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © The Associated Press Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Pruitt goes before a Senate panel Wednesday as he faces a growing number of federal ethics investigations over his lavish spending on travel and security. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers at a Senate hearing Wednesday hammered Scott Pruitt with his toughest questioning to date amid federal investigations on his spending, bodyguards and ties with lobbyists, in exchanges that included dramatic production of a newly released internal email that appeared to contradict the embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrator. 

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Apparently, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has trouble distinguishing between emergency trips and rides to work. The agency head reportedly likes to use sirens and flashing lights when he’s running late around Washington, a habit for which he’s faced criticism.

Pruitt often ran late during his trips in Washington. You may also enjoy the following articles. My Account . Username. Email . Newsletter. Daily Weekly Fortnightly Monthly Never.

Pruitt, appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, denied direct responsibility for alleged ethical missteps that have prompted about a dozen probes, including ones by Congress, the EPA's inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Management of Budget. He stuck to his practice in a previous round of congressional hearings of deflecting blame onto subordinates at EPA, including its security agents and public-affairs workers.

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, the panel's top Democrat and a former state attorney general like Pruitt, led Democrats' questioning. At one point, Udall asked Pruitt about news reports that the agency head liked his motorcade to switch on flashing lights and sirens to cut through traffic.

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Scandal-plagued EPA chief Scott Pruitt 'tried to use his motorcade 's sirens and lights so he could beat Washington traffic and get to dinner on time'

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt wanted his motorcade to use its lights and sirens to speed up local trips to the airport or dinner, three people who worked with the agency said in a New York Times report Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

"I don't recall that happening," Pruitt said, asked repeatedly by Udall if he had ordered lights and sirens. "There are policies that agencies follow. The agency has followed the policy to the best of my knowledge. No, I don't recall."

Udall then disclosed an internal email indicating Pruitt did.

The email, written by then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta just days after Pruitt's confirmation in February 2017, has the subject line "Lights and Sirens." It added "Btw - Administrator encourages the use."

Pruitt later promoted Perrotta to lead his round-the-clock personal protective detail. Former EPA officials have told The Associated Press that Pruitt made the change after Perrotta's predecessor refused to use lights and sirens in non-emergencies.

Time and again, Pruitt responded to questions by saying he either couldn't recall details or was unaware of decisions made by aides. Asked why comment from The Dow Chemical Co. wound up in an agency document, for example, Pruitt suggested public affairs staffers were responsible.

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Pruitt wanted to “use flashing lights and sirens in his motorcade … to expedite local trips in Washington to the airport or to dinner, including at least one trip to Le Diplomate, a trendy French restaurant that he frequented,” according to The New York Times.

Pruitt wanted to “use flashing lights and sirens in his motorcade to expedite local trips in Washington to the airport or to dinner, including at least one trip to Le Diplomate, a trendy French restaurant that he frequented,” according to The New York Times.

He newly confirmed a few points from recent news stories, including the launch of a legal defense fund, which he said was done by others on his behalf. He acknowledged that an aide, Millan Hupp, shopped for Washington housing for him, although he said it was on her personal time. Udall called it a violation of federal law.

The questioning was notably more aggressive than during appearances Pruitt made before House subcommittees last month, when at least one Republican chairman repeatedly cut off Democrats the moment their limited time expired and allowed Pruitt not to answer.

In contrast, Republican Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska gave the Democrats plenty of freedom to press Pruitt and ask courtroom-style follow-up questions when Pruitt, a lawyer who previously served as Oklahoma's state attorney general, offered answers that were not as specific as lawmakers wanted.

Murkowski set the tone from the start, opening the hearing by expressing concern that allegations over Pruitt's missteps were overshadowing the Trump administration's pro-business regulatory rollbacks.

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Pruitt wanted his motorcade to use its lights and sirens to speed up local trips to the airport or dinner. According to the reports, Pruitt was often late during his trips in Washington and used the motorcade ’s warning signals to quicken his trips to his favorite restaurant.

Create an account or sign in for a tailor-made video experience. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly wanted his motorcade to use its lights and sirens to speed up some of his trips around town.

"I'm being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on security and on housing and on travel. I'm reading about your interactions with representatives of the industries that you regulate," Murkowski told Pruitt at a hearing normally expected to focus on budget matters.

"There have been decisions over the last 16 months or so that, as I look back on those decisions, I would not make the same decisions again," Pruitt said.

EPA's inspector general revealed earlier this week that Pruitt requested and received 24-hour security beginning his first day in office. That challenges Pruitt's account that the round-the-clock security was a result of threats against him after taking office.

On Wednesday, Pruitt repeatedly dodged directly answering whether he requested the stepped-up security coverage, saying career EPA officials below him made the final decision.

Perrotta, who wrote the email about the use of lights and sirens, also drafted a memo last year saying Pruitt needed to fly in premium class seats because of security threats.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont mocked that explanation.

"What a silly reason to fly first class," Leahy said. "Nobody even knows who you are."

Despite the mounting investigations into Pruitt's actions, President Donald Trump has said he still supports his EPA chief. Asked Friday if he still had confidence in Pruitt, Trump told reporters, "I do."

During the hearing, protesters sitting behind Pruitt silently rose up, waving signs suggesting that Pruitt should be fired. Others wore green T-shirts with white lettering that read "Impeach Pruitt."

As Pruitt left the hearing room, protesters trailed him through the halls of the Senate office building shouting "Mr. Pruitt, you should be fired!" and "You should be ashamed, Mr. Pruitt."

The EPA chief, ringed by his staff and security team, appeared to ignore them. He briskly made his way out to a waiting black SUV with tinted windows and drove away.

___

Follow Associated Press environmental writer Ellen Knickmeyer at http://twitter.com/KnickmeyerEllen and investigative reporter Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck

Pruitt spent at least $9,600 on office decor, desks: email .
The expenses listed for Pruitt appear to surpass the $5,000 limit set by Congress for redecoration costs, but the EPA says otherwise.EPA paid the Smithsonian Institution $1,950 for labor and delivery charges on three pieces of artwork loaned to Pruitt's executive office suite and spent over $2,500 to frame items that included a photo of him with President Trump and an American flag. Additionally, the document confirms earlier reports that agency officials paid $2,963 for a standing "captain's" desk and another $2,075 to refurbish another office desk for the administrator.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/politics/-145568-email-challenges-pruitt-account-on-motorcade-lights-siren/

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