Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt said Wednesday night that the agency’s security detail will be changing to accommodate flying economy despite “unprecedented” physical threats.
“There’s a change coming, because look the security threat matters,” he told CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett. Pruitt did not detail what those changes might entail, but did say they would include allowing him to ride coach. Pruitt’s “very next flight” will be in economic class, he added.
Pruitt has been under fire recently for his expensive flight travels to Italy, among other far-flung areas. Former President Barack Obama-era EPA officials have corroborated his explanations, telling reporters that waivers for first-class travel were made to assure the administrator’s well-being.
“There have been incidents in airports and those incidents you know occurred and they are of different types, but here what I really wanted to try to convey to you is that these threats have been unprecedented,” Pruitt said, noting also that his detail will find a way to incorporate flying coach into those plans despite concerns.
His comments came shortly after The Washington Post and CBS News detailed how Pruitt racked up nearly $90,000 in flight expenses. He traveled to Italy in June for meetings at the Vatican and to attend a summit with international energy ministers, CBS reported in February.
The entire trip — both ways — cost more than $43,000 dollars, according to travel vouchers environmental activist group Environmental Integrity Project obtained. Government policy allows officials access for first class travel on 14-hour international flights.
WaPo published a similar report and highlighted Pruitt’s flight records dating back to President Donald Trump’s first year in office. The headline from the outlet proclaimed: “First-class travel distinguishes Scott Pruitt’s EPA tenure.”
The CBS report did not mention the record number of death threats being leveled against the agency — WaPo didn’t do much better.
Threats against officials at the agency and Pruitt have spiked 50 percent during 2017, according to an NBC report in 2017. EPA’s Office of Inspector General launched more than 70 investigations into threats against Pruitt and others at the agency, the Oct. 6 report noted. None of the threats resulted in injuries, but they were deemed legitimate risks to officials.
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