In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Pruitt Grilled About Unprecedented 24/7 Security Detail

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Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked Pruitt repeatedly if he requested the 24/7 security, questions that Pruitt dodged until Van Hollen’s time expired.

“I was aware of communications taking place,” Pruitt said. “I was not at the agency at the time. That was before [my] confirmation. And the decision to provide 24/7 security was made, as indicated by this report, by law enforcement career officials at the agency.”

The EPA’s Inspector General reported this week that Pruitt did ask for the unusual level of security as soon as he was confirmed, and that the cost of such security has run up a bill of $3 million dollars. The revelation about the early timing of the security request undermines Pruitt’s claims to Congress earlier this year that the stepped-up security was a response to threats against him related to his controversial rollbacks of environmental protections.

In his second round of questioning, Van Hollen tried again, reading directly from the IG report, which contradicts Pruitt’s claim that he was not involved in the decision to provide such an unprecedented level of security for an EPA administrator.

“The decision to provide 24/7 security was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement after your request for it,” he said, adding dryly: “This is an IG report. I assume they take these things seriously.”

Pruitt doubled down on his denial, saying: “I did not decide or direct that decision to be made. They are the ones that made that decision, according to the document you’re referring to.”

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) also asked Pruitt directly if he personally asked for 24/7 security.

“It had already been determined by the Criminal Enforcement Office to provide it,” at the time he was sworn into office, Pruitt answered.

“Well, all the documents dispute that,” Udall countered.

About The Author

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Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.