EPA Ousted Staffer Who Signed Report That Weakened Pruitt's Security Claims

Tom Carper of DE and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said in a letter Tuesday to Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that they were provided with an internal EPA document that said a threat assessment did not justify such expenses. Among them: public protests, criticism of Pruitt's policies and other activities protected by the First Amendment. "EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA Administrator", the lawmaker's letter, obtained by the Times, states.

Ryan Jackson, chief of staff at the EPA, is taking responsibility for the controversy surrounding pay increases given to two aides of Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The scandal-scarred EPA czar has come under severe scrutiny since it was revealed that he has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on an around-the-clock security detail, rented an impossibly affordable Capitol Hill condo from an oil lobbyist and dished out taxpayer cash on first-class travel.

The agency pushed back strongly on Tuesday.

The EPA has consistently said that Pruitt needed to fly first class as a security precaution given unprecedented threats, and the assessment that he could leave quickly if necessary.

Slotkin added that Pruitt wanted to remove "anything" that had "to do with the EPA".

"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 statement.

In addition, Gowdy said in his letter Wednesday that he plans to examine Pruitt's unusual lease agreement for a condo on Capitol Hill previous year with Vicki Hart, a health-care lobbyist.

The Democrats said they found no records describing specific, credible threats against Pruitt.

"These coins represent the agency", Slotkin told The Times. "Scott Pruitt has lost all credibility and the confidence of the American people - it's time for him to go".

"Administrator Pruitt had zero knowledge of the amount of the raises, nor the process by which they transpired".

Gowdy's latest request comes just days after a top government ethics official wrote to EPA lawyers, urging the agency to address any violations linked to Pruitt's spending habits, his condo lease from a lobbyist and his personnel decisions.

Caraballo could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"It is hard to reconcile the public statements of the EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments", the letter said. "It may be that the materials we have been provided are incomplete and that EPA has additional information that justifies its public position", Whitehouse and Carper write.

The nature of the threats and the security protocol has since been called into question.

President Donald Trump defended Pruitt in a tweet Saturday night, downplaying the ethical questions swirling around his embattled EPA chief. Pruitt had planned to travel to Mexico this week, according to multiple agency officials, but has postponed the visit.