Reporters Claim Pruitt Admitted To Lying About Pay Raises — They’re Jumping The Gun

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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt admitted to signing off on pay raises without the White House’s approval to a pair of trusted assistants, reporters are prematurely claiming.

White House reporters at Fox News and Bloomberg believe Pruitt all-but told lawmakers he circumvented proper procedure on pay raises. His answers during a congressional hearing Thursday about the scandal appear to conflict with those he previously made on the issue, they claim.

“Scott Pruitt just told a Congressional Committee he gave his COS the green light to give raises to two EPA officials,” Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts wrote in a Thursday tweet of comments Pruitt made during an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the 2019 budget.

“That — in direct defiance of the WH — and contradicting what he told @FoxNews — that he wasn’t aware of the raises. This may be the end of the line …” Roberts added, referring to answers Pruitt gave during an April 4 sit-down interview with his Fox News colleague, Ed Henry.

Bloomberg White House reporter Toluse Olorunnipa mirrored much of Robert’s position in a tweet he posted before Robert’s crafted his missive.

“Pruitt now admits in Congressional testimony that he gave his chief of staff authority to give large raises for two of his deputies, over the objections of the White House,” Olorunnipa told his Twitter followers. Both reporters appear to be jumping the gun.

Pruitt wasn’t sure who should be held accountable for the unsanctioned pay raises, the EPA administrator told Henry. Pruitt was unaware of who with the agency okayed pay raises EPA officials Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp received, he also said at the time. Pruitt asked the White House in March to bump up Greenwalt’s salary to $164,200 from $107,435 — Hupp’s to $114,590 from $86,460.

Someone at the EPA used an arcane provision within the Safe Drinking Water Act to skirt the White House’s decision and green light Greenwalt and Hupp’s salary increases, according to an April 3 report from The Atlantic. Pruitt denied knowing about them during his April 4 interview with Henry.

“I found out this yesterday, and I corrected the action; and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it,” he said during the interview, though he didn’t say if anyone would be fired. Pruitt effectively stuck to this story during his congressional testimony Thursday.

“Congressman, those were delegated to Mr. Jackson, and the inspector general did refer to them in his alert,” Pruitt told New York Rep. Paul Tonkin, referring to his Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson’s decision to okay the raises. “There were delegations giving him that authority.”

His answer, though muddled and evasive, was nearly identical to the one he made on Fox News.

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