Sunday, 22 April, 2018

No Evidence of Credible Threats Against Pruitt, Democrats Say

Jason Andrew  Getty Images North America Jason Andrew Getty Images North America
Mandy Jefferson | 12 April, 2018, 07:26

Kevin Chmielewski was deputy chief of staff for operations at EPA until he was placed on unpaid administrative leave.

"I am deeply troubled that members of the committee would publicly release law enforcement sensitive information regarding the safety and security of a cabinet member and his family", Barrasso said in a release responding to the letter.

In a letter to Pruitt, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Oversight Committee, demanded Pruitt provide more details over both the travel, security and condo lease issues, writing that "The EPA has failed to produce all the documents requested". Kathy Castor of Florida; Diana DeGette of Colordao; the top Democrat on the oversight and investigations subcommittee; and Paul Tonko of NY, the top Democrat on the environment subcommittee. The letter quoted from the internal EPA documents but the full documents were not made public.

EPA's assistant inspector general for investigations, Patrick Sullivan, has told The Washington Post and other media that Pruitt has received a higher number of threats than his predecessors - some of them "very personal, ugly threats".

Separately, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., and Albio Sires, D-8th Dist., were among 64 House Democrats signing a letter to Trump calling him to dismiss Pruitt.

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In a letter sent to Pruitt Wednesday, House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy of SC said EPA had failed to hand over documents he requested in February, including copies of any waivers permitting the administrator to use premium class airfare. They include audits of his travel practices and the costs of his protective detail, his purchase of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth past year and hiring practices, under authority granted by the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment. Pruitt's staff cited death threats to rebut criticism of Pruitt flying in first-class airline seats and a full-time security detail of 20 armed officers. Nonetheless there have been additional questions and requires investigation into whether or not or not it created a battle of curiosity for Pruitt to rent from the partner of a lobbyist whose company represented purchasers with pursuits sooner than the EPA. "Scott Pruitt has lost all credibility and the confidence of the American people - it's time for him to go". Leopold told AP this week that an EPA official who responded to his request told him verbally that after checks with the agency's general counsel and inspector general's office that no such records existed.

EPA's Intelligence Team asked the United States Secret Service to provide a "Direction of Interest Query" in February 2017 and again this February on potential threats against Pruitt, the senators write, and neither query returned any "reports of behaviors of interest directed toward EPA Administrator Pruitt".

"It is hard to reconcile the public statements of the EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments", the letter said.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Pruitt is busy carrying out the Trump's administration's positions on the environment. "Either way, the EPW Committee has a responsibility to look into these matters".

President Donald Trump has defended Pruitt, downplaying the ethical questions swirling around his embattled EPA chief while commending his work at the agency. Pruitt had planned to travel to Mexico this week, according to multiple agency officials, but has postponed the visit.

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