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Senate Democrats say there's no evidence to justify Pruitt's security spending

Documents obtained identify no "reports of behaviors of interest" against the EPA Administrator.

by Leigh Ann Caldwell /  / Updated 
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 7, 2017 in Washington.Pete Marovich / Getty Images file

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WASHINGTON — Two Senate Democrats say they have documents that show there have been no security threats against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that would justify the abnormally large security detail and first class air travel he has spent millions of taxpayers dollars on, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

The letter, written by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Tom Carper of Delaware, was sent to Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. In it, the senators say they have obtained "non-public documents" that include assessments from the Secret Service that "identify no ‘reports of behaviors of interest’ against Administrator Pruitt."

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It also adds that an internal EPA Intelligence Office report “disputes the administrator’s claims that the nature of the threats against him justify his expenditures.”

Pruitt has said that repeated threats to his safety, justify a security team of 20 people, three times as many his predecessors. He's said those safety concerns are also behind his first-class travel.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly defended Pruitt from growing scrutiny on a number of ethical issues, saying as recently as Saturday that he is "doing a great job" and that the extra security is a response to "death threats" the administrator has received.

The letter from Whitehouse and Carper includes a page from Pruitt's former personal security detail that details specific threats, including protestors who sought to disrupt a private speech and another who wanted to take the "old paint" off his house and put it outside Pruitt's office.

"It is hard to reconcile the public statements of EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments," Whitehouse and Carper write.

Barrasso said the release of such information by the two Democrats is dangerous.

“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,” he said. “Any reasonable reading of these documents supports the Office of the Inspector General’s statements that Administrator Pruitt faces a ‘variety of direct death threats.’”

Barrasso added that he will not hold a hearing examining Pruitt.

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