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Pruitt said that “to the best of my knowledge,” the agency followed the policies in place.

“You personally requested that the sirens and the flashing lights occur, is that right?” Udall asked.

“No, I don’t recall that,” Pruitt responded.

Udall submitted for the record a February email from then-EPA special agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta contradicting Pruitt’s claim.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) pressed Pruitt over his preference for first-class travel, expressing skepticism that he would be at risk from the American public by flying in coach.

“What a silly reason ... Nobody even knows who you are,” Leahy said, drawing some laughter in the committee room.

Leahy added that Pruitt’s ego, first-class travel and special phone booth made him and the agency “a laughingstock.”

Udall kicked off his first line of questioning by asking Pruitt something unrelated to him and EPA: Does he support special counsel Robert Mueller completing his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election?

Instead of answering yes or no, Pruitt said it’s important for investigators to be able to provide prosecutors adequate information that would allow them to make informed decisions about whether to proceed.

“As you know, the right answer is ‘yes,’” Udall said. “Whenever there is an investigation ongoing, a president or Rudolph Giuliani or anybody else shouldn’t be interfering in that investigation, putting time limits on it or anything else.”

Republicans on the subcommittee, meanwhile, all but ignored the ongoing investigations, focusing their questions on policy changes at the federal agency.

“You have taken a common sense approach to the environmental regulatory process,” said Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). “For that, I am truly grateful and I have been most impressed.” 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee’s chairwoman, said that instead of being asked about Pruitt’s efforts to return EPA to its core mission, she’s constantly fielding questions about issues like his management and travel. “Some of this undoubtedly is a result of the ‘gotcha age’ that we live in,” she said.






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By Alisa Wang
Added May 17

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