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EPA watchdog says Pruitt sought 24/7 protection from start

EPA watchdog says Pruitt sought 24/7 protection from start

The demand ramps up pressure on the embattled EPA administrator, who is already under pressure from mostly Democratic lawmakers to step down over controversies that include high spending on travel and security.

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" and added "Btw - Administrator encourages the use". Pruitt is also under fire for substantial raises afforded to two young staffers he brought with him from Oklahoma, where he previously served as a Republican state attorney general.

The request for the email investigation came from Democratic Sens.

The EPA has said that the first-class flights were necessary, because of security threats against Pruitt.

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.

The EPA has spent about $3 million on Pruitt's 20-member full-time security detail.




Trump has remained publicly supportive of Pruitt, despite the consistent flood of scandals plaguing Pruitt and his department.

Trump told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting last week that he had chose to do so by expanding sales of high-ethanol gasoline called E15, counting ethanol exports toward annual volumes quotas, and cutting back the use of waivers, according to a source briefed on the meeting.

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

Several Democrats on the subcommittee, including Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Patrick Leahy, have called for Pruitt's resignation.

At one of the House hearings last month, Pruitt spoke broadly of taking responsibility for changes at his agency, and said he had "made changes" in his practice of first- and business-class travel.

The EPA chief, ringed by his aides and security personnel, appeared to ignore them.