Scott Pruitt Just Testified Before Congress. It Didn't Go Well


EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Wednesday that he didn't recall asking that lights and sirens be used on his motorcade so he could get through Washington traffic faster.

"You've brought true common sense policy to the agency", she said.

Pruitt says his staff shouldn't have issued the tweet. "I want to rectify those going forward".

Mr. Udall also alleged that an EPA staffer helped Mr. Pruitt look for housing in Washington and that work qualifies as a gift in violation of federal law. Perrotta also wrote the agency's justification for Pruitt's first-class travel.

Pruitt again tried to dodge, reiterating that "all activity that I'm aware of that was engaged in by the individual you are speaking about occurred in personal time".

Pruitt repeated the claim that the extraordinary spending on his personal security was needed because the threats against him have been "unprecedented in terms of quantity and type".

Pruitt has said he's flown first class - instead of coach like most government employees - due to security concerns.

"What a silly reason for you to fly first class because it might be a danger to you if you didn't fly first class", Leahy said.

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"Only Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration would consider reducing drinking water contamination for the American people to be a 'nightmare, '" remarked Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "I'm anxious you are spending all of your time enriching yourself and your friends while betraying your mission to protect human health and the environment". The gist: If this report were released, it would be a disaster for the EPA's reputation, as well as that of the Department of Defense, which is responsible for much of the pollution in question. He blamed staff and processes for allowing some of incidents to take place.

Pruitt maintained that the EPA's criminal enforcement office made the decision independently, adding carefully, "I did not direct that on the first day". That's not to mention Pruitt's pricey private flight habit and $43,000 soundproof phone booth, all on the taxpayer dime.

But he also acknowledged that he would have done some things differently during his 16 months at the agency so far.

The administrator also confirmed he has established a legal defense fund to address the multiple inquiries he faces.

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.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member on the full Appropriations Committee, said Pruitt has become a "laughingstock" along with his agency.

At today's hearing, Pruitt faced questioning over his 24/7 security protection, his rental of a condo linked to a lobbyist and a top aide who went house hunting for the EPA chief. While other administrators have used "nonpublic" email accounts like this before, under federal law communications carried out through those email accounts must be retained for the federal record. Tom Udall said, noting that subordinates of federal officials are prohibited from providing free services.