Senators press Scott Pruitt over lavish spending in EPA hearing Wednesday morning

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A letter from the agency's inspector general Monday contradicted Pruitt's claim that his around-the-clock protection was a response to an assessment of death threats against him, and instead began at his own request and on his first day at the job.

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins says in letters to Democratic senators that Pruitt himself initiated the 24-hour protection.

Elkins said that 2017 summary was requested by Pruitt's office and was not meant to justify tighter security. Grassley said he doesn't see a need for a public comment period on the issue of RIN transparency, noting he believes that Pruitt has the authority to make the RIN market more transparent.

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

The hearing was the toughest grilling Pruitt has yet faced about ethical issues, ranging from his use of taxpayer money to fly first class to outsized spending on his personal security.

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Despite the mounting investigations into Pruitt's actions, President Donald Trump has said he still supports his EPA chief.

A House committee and the Government Accountability Office also are investigating Pruitt. That challenges Pruitt's account that the round-the-clock security was a result of threats against him after taking office.

Perrotta, who wrote the email about the use of lights and sirens, also drafted a memo a year ago saying Pruitt needed to fly in premium class seats because of security threats. Tom Udall of New Mexico, has known as for Pruitt to resign and said Tuesday that he'll "maintain Pruitt accountable for his unethical conduct" in Wednesday's listening to. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox did not respond to a question Tuesday about whether Pruitt was now flying coach.

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.

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