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The Latest: EPA chief unaware of security chief’s ties

Scott Pruitt, Holly Greaves
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and his appearances on Capitol Hill (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says he was unaware his security chief moonlighted as an investigator for a tabloid news company with close ties to President Donald Trump.

Pruitt says the consulting work by EPA special agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta is under review. Perrotta leads Pruitt’s 20-member, full-time security detail.

The New York Times and The Associated Press reported Monday that Perrota worked as a private investigator for National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. during the 2016 election.

AP’s report cited a person with knowledge of Perrotta’s work for AMI CEO David Pecker. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

AMI spokesman Jon Hammond has disputed how AP’s source characterized Perrotta’s role.

Perrotta has not responded to requests for comment.

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10:55 a.m.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt concedes he did have some knowledge of big pay raises awarded to two close aides.

At a hearing, Democrat Rep. Paul Tonko of New York pressed Pruitt on whether he knew about the raises for 30-year-old senior legal counsel Sarah Greenwalt and 26-year-old scheduling director Millian Hupp.

In a Fox News interview on April 4, Pruitt insisted he didn’t approve the raises and didn’t know who did.

Documents later showed EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson signed off on the raises and indicated he had Pruitt’s consent.

Pruitt said Thursday he actually delegated authority to Jackson to give the raises but didn’t know the exact amounts.

Greenwalt received raises of more than $66,000, bringing her salary to $164,200. Hupp saw her salary jump to $114,590, after raises of more than $48,000.

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10:26 a.m.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is testifying in potentially make-or-break hearings on Capitol Hill, where he will face questions about spending and ethics scandals that have triggered bipartisan calls for his ouster.

Pruitt read a prepared statement about his agency’s fiscal year 2019 budget priorities to begin the first of two back-to-back hearings before House subcommittees.

The public grilling comes amid erosion in support for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after a monthlong swarm of negative headlines about outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease.

President Donald Trump has continued to stand by his EPA chief. But behind closed doors, White House officials concede Pruitt’s job is in jeopardy. A growing list of Republican lawmakers has joined Democrats in calling for new investigations into Pruitt’s actions.

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