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EPA spent millions on 20-member security detail for Pruitt, records show

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at a press briefing Friday, praised Pruitt but said the administration was “continuing to review any of the concerns that we have.”

“No one other than the president has the authority to hire and fire members of his Cabinet. It’s a decision that he’ll make, and right now I don’t have any personnel announcements,” she added.

In recent weeks, Pruitt has been the subject of multiple negative reports that have raised ethics concerns about his frequent first-class travel, his sweetheart deal to rent a condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist, and big pay raises reportedly afforded to top aides without White House approval.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt demoted the career staff member heading his security detail and replaced him with EPA Senior Special Agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who operates a private security company. An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt’s security spending says Perrotta oversaw a rapid expansion of the EPA chief’s security detail to accommodate guarding him day and night, even on family vacations and when Pruitt was home in Oklahoma.

The EPA official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

The EPA official said there are legitimate concerns about Pruitt’s safety, given public opposition to his rollbacks of anti-pollution measures.

But Pruitt’s ambitious domestic and international travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many investigators hit annual salary caps of about $160,000. The demands of providing 24-hour coverage even meant taking some investigators away from field work, such as when Pruitt traveled to California for a family vacation.

The EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.

More allegations emerged Thursday, when CBS News reported that Pruitt, just weeks after he was confirmed to the post, wanted to use his vehicle’s sirens and lights to get through Washington traffic. When his lead security agent refused the request, explaining that he couldn’t use them unless there was an emergency, the EPA reassigned him, CBS News reported.

The New York Times also reported Thursday that several EPA officials, some of them senior, had been sidelined after questioning Pruitt.

Pruitt has faced continued fallout over reports that for the first six months he was in Washington, he leased a Capitol Hill condo tied to a lobbyist that did business with the EPA and paid just $50 a night, only for the nights he stayed there. The news was first reported by ABC News, which also reported that the townhouse is co-owned by Vicki Hart, the health care lobbyist wife of J. Steven Hart, an energy lobbyist. By Friday, news had emerged that Pruitt was supposed to live in the Harts’ condo for only six weeks and that, according to Politico, the Harts pushed him out and changed their locks. Politico reported a day earlier that Pruitt had also fallen behind on his cut-rate rent payments.

And in February, Pruitt drew criticism after it was revealed he and his aides spent more than $90,000 for trips in early June and $15,000 to fly home during the weekends to Oklahoma between March and May of 2017. Pruitt traveled mostly first class, despite federal regulations requiring federal officials to fly in coach. Two month earlier, in December, Pruitt and members of his staff spent roughly $40,000 in taxpayer funds to fly to Morocco to help encourage the country to import liquefied natural gas from the United States.

In addition, The Atlantic reported that Pruitt had bypassed the White House to give two top aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, substantial pay raises.

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Brexit deal on BRINK: EU fears UK will leave with no deal ahead of last-ditch crunch talks

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EUROCRATS are working on the assumption Britain will quit the European Union without a Brexit deal, it has emerged.

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Bumble Bee responds to Trump’s claim about protesters throwing cans of tuna

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Bumble Bee Seafoods on Tuesday responded to President Donald Trump’s fishy claim that protesters used cans of tuna to chuck at law enforcement amid civil unrest prompted by the deaths of Black Americans by police.

“They go out and buy tuna fish and soup. You know that right? … Because they throw it, they throw it, it’s the perfect weight — tuna fish,” Trump said at a rally in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “They can really rip it, right? And that hits you. No, it’s true. Bumble Bee brand tuna.”

There have been no media reports of police being hit with cans of tuna. Bumble Bee Seafoods responded to the claim in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Eat em. Don’t throw em,” the company said on its official Twitter.

In 2018, The company said Trump’s tariffs on Chinese tuna would be “devastating” for the business.

There have been nationwide protests following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Trump has used his re-election rallies to spread falsehoods about the protests and boast his law and order message and his pledge to quell the unrest in cities.

He claimed at Tuesday’s rally and others that mostly Democratic cities have been overrun by “anarchists.” Though police have violently clashed with demonstrators, many of the protests have remained largely peaceful.

On Monday, the Justice Department released a list of cities that it has deemed “anarchist jurisdictions” under Trump’s instructions this month to review federal funding for local governments in places where violence or vandalism has occurred during protests.

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EU crisis: Shock member state set to leave bloc after Brexit after issue ignored by bloc

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A BREXITEER has predicted one surprising nation will push to leave the EU after Brexit due to frustration with the bloc.

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