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Scott Pruitt hearings: EPA chief faces congress for ethics and management decisions

This item has been updated.

With more and more at stake in the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt faced a tough BBQ on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, but was unconvinced of his leadership and activities.

I have to take responsibility for making changes to the agency "based on the" learning curve "that he and others had, he told lawmakers at the first of two hearings, but he wrote the vast majority of allegations about his Ethics and management decisions to political critics.

"Those who attacked the EPA and attacked me do so because they want to derail the president's agenda. I will not let that happen. Pruitt said, "A lie does not come true just because it appears on the front page of the newspaper."

Upon its appearance before the House Environment and Trade subcommittee, a testimony will be delivered in the afternoon to the Commission's Subcommittee on Interior Design and so on Both hearings should discuss the EPO's budget, but Pruitt has been asking so much about the escalating controversy in the area in recent weeks.

At the opening of the Hearing on Energy and Trade, MEP John Shimkus (R Ill.) To Pruitt "I'm generally pleased with the direction you take with the EPA," but that he would have to address reports of lavish spending and other allegations of ethical misconduct.

"It's no secret that it There were many stories in the press about the management and operation of the agency and its dealings with potentially regulated sectors, "he said te Shimkus. "I think much of this story is a distraction, but I can not ignore this panel, and I look forward to hearing your side of the story about the rumors and allegations you are facing."

The Supreme Democrat The subcommittee, Paul Tonko (New York), delivered a tough volley while Pruitt watched with some indifference. His top adjutants sit behind him. After ticking off several charges for personal financial affairs and managerial decisions, Tonko said, "And in almost all cases, the more we learned, the worse they become."

He concluded with Pruitt, "You have failed as a steward of American taxpayers and the environment."

And Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ), the top Democrat of the Chamber of Commerce, quickly informed him: "You are unfit to hold public office, and you are to earn the public's trust," he added, "that he would have" long disappeared with any other White House ".

Democrat Pruitt repeatedly pushed for specific details. Tonko asked if Pruitt had approved massive ratifications for two of his advisers, Senior Counsel Sarah Greenwalt and Director Planning and Advance of Millan Hupp. The congressman also asked if Pruitt authorized Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson to sign the salary increases and whether Greenwalt emailed a colleague that the increases had been "discussed" in advance with the administrator

"I was mine "Pruitt answered," and I was unaware that the [White House Presidential Personnel Office] trial was not respected. "

Pallone urged Pruitt to stand trial against employees who questioned some of his spending decisions. "Was it always your practice to fire people who disagree with you?" He asked.

Pruitt disproved the indictment. "I never remember a conversation for that purpose," he said.

Chief Environmental Officer Scott Pruitt testified Thursday to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images)

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) Defended himself as he focused on some of the controversy that had endangered Job's job.

"You are not the first person who is the victim because there is no better term of Washington politics," Barton told him. Referring to the fact that during his first year with the EPO, the administrator often traveled in first class, Barton asked, "Is it illegal to fly first class?"

Pruitt said that these tickets had been approved by the Travel and Security Bureau, Barton asked to respond: "But it's not illegal, it may look bad, but it's not illegal."

Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WVa.) Described Prutts countless claims as "a classic display of allusions and McCarthyism," adding that he was disappointed that his colleagues on the other side could not confine their questions to policy issues , "Some can not resist the limelight, the ability to hold tribunes," he accused.

As the interrogation continued, demonstrators stood in the room, mute, holding signs saying, "Mr. Corruption," with a picture of Pruitt. Some wore green T-shirts with the imprint "Impeach Pruitt".

In front of the Rayburn House office building, when the Capitol police officers touched the perimeter, members of the advocacy group Friends of the Earth paraded Pruitt's housing offer last year with a lobbyist and her husband

The administrator spent most of the past week rehearsing answers designed to ward off some of the most serious allegations regarding his ethics and management decisions. Several employees said he had pushed his private associates with his closest associates and outlined plans to blame others for some decisions, such as the high salary increases for two employees who moved with him from Oklahoma to Washington.

Following these preparations, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox called the hearings "an opportunity to reiterate the achievements of President Trump's EPA, which included the repeal of the Obama Clean Energy Plan and the waters of the United States, creating legal certainty and the declaration of a war on lead – while returning to Reagan staff of the era. "

Given the multitude of investigations against his leadership, the Inspector General of the EPO, the House Inspectorate, the Office of Government Accountability, and the White However, Pruitt's status seems anything but secure. [19659026] According to high-ranking government officials, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has carried out an investigation of the nearly [$ 4,900] $ 43,000 soundproof telephone booth Pruitt had set up in his office to cover other costly expenses, including first-rate airline tickets Flights and stays in boutique hotels.

And the White House office is investigating allegations of unethical behavior, including Pruitt's decision to rent part of a Capitol Hill apartment for $ 50 a night from the lobbyist and her husband, who had business before the agency.

Even some supporters in Congress become impatient, with GOP legislators demanding greater accountability and telling Pruitt of allies to come off praising him. However, almost all Republicans have stopped calling for his resignation.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) Said in a statement on Wednesday that he had been "pleased" with Pruit's work "to roll back regulations and restore the EPA to its proper size and scope, but these recent reports are new to I have no reason to believe that they are true, but they are disturbing, and I think we should hear about them directly from Administrator Pruitt. "

In the White House, the EPO chief has the support of many high-level officials Counselors lost, including chief of staff John F. Kelly, and communications officers, lawyers and cabinet officers officials whose calls he ignored. He is not interested in "changing sides," as a senior government official put it on Wednesday.

For his part, Pruitt believes that the White House is leaking harmful details about him and "looking for him" is the words of a Pruitt ally

Trump is unwilling to remove Pruitt from his post, according to people with have spoken to him, but he has become more worried as new allegations continue to crop up. The leading Trump adviser and longtime political activist of the Koch brothers is still one of the few in the government, who are ready to defend him. Briefly, donors and consultants have said in the last few days that Pruitt has done well in the agency.

Read More:

First-Class Trip Distinguishes Scott Pruitts EPA Tenure

"A Factory of Bad Ideas": How Scott Pruitt undermines his mission at EPA

EPA whistleblower claims spending and travel excesses by Scott Pruitt

Pruitt's round-the-clock security has cost the taxpayer nearly $ 3 million

Pruitt reveals controversial "transparency" rule that limits what research EPA can use

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