Politics

Pruitt Aide Sought Apartment, Old Trump Hotel Mattress for Boss

EPA Administrator allegedly talked to hotel about purchasing old mattress

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on the proposed FY2019 budget for the EPA on May 16, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A top EPA aide to Administrator Scott Pruitt detailed a litany of personal tasks she performed on Pruitt’s behalf over the past year, including an exhaustive Washington apartment search and an effort to procure an “old mattress” from the Trump hotel, according to excerpts of an interview released by leading House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Democrats Monday.

In the letter the Democrats ask the Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, to issue a subpoena for the EPA to submit all pertinent documents to the panel for review in the latest congressional response to Pruitt’s security, spending and housing issues that have dominated headlines.

According to the letter from ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., and Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., Pruitt’s scheduler, Millan Hupp, outlined a series of personal tasks she was directed to perform for the former Oklahoma attorney general, among them: helping find a Washington apartment for Pruitt, securing a “old mattress” from the Trump International Hotel and planning and purchasing a Rose Bowl trip in January.

“If Ms. Hupp’s statements to the Committee are accurate, Administrator Pruitt crossed a very clear line and must be held accountable,” the letter said. “Federal ethics laws prohibit Administrator Pruitt from using his official position for personal gain and from requesting and accepting services from a subordinate employee that are not part of that employee’s official duties.”

Hupp’s interview, conducted by both parties on May 18, confirmed many of the reports of practices by the administrator that have dominated headlines for the better part of two months. Hupp said her work on the apartment search occurred over “a couple months” and included some 10 apartment visits.

Pruitt also had Hupp contact the Trump Hotel to see about acquiring an old mattress from the hotel, although she did not know if a mattress was ever procured.

Hotel mattress

According to the transcript, Hupp said she did not know why Pruitt would want a used hotel mattress. 

“As I remember,” she said, “the administrator had spoken with someone at the Trump Hotel who had indicated that there could be a mattress that he could purchase, an old mattress that he could purchase. But that’s the extent of the conversation that I can — that I can remember.”

Those apartment-hunting activities fell outside the purview of her official capacity at EPA, the letter said, and Pruitt did not pay Hupp for her services, according to the interview. Hupp did say she booked his travel as “a personal friend” of Pruitt, and she had his personal credit card to book his flights outside of his official capacity as EPA administrator, including a trip to Pasadena, Calif., for the Rose Bowl college football game.

Republicans on the committee responded Monday that their investigation remained ongoing.

“Selectively releasing portions of witness interview transcripts damages the credibility of our investigation and discourages future witnesses from coming forward,” Oversight spokeswoman Amanda Gonzalez said. “The Committee will continue conducting a serious, fact-driven investigation, and therefore will wait until the conclusion of our investigation to release our findings.”

The committee has already interviewed or planned to interview other EPA officials as part of its ongoing probe of reports of official misconduct by Pruitt. Officials appearing or planning to appear before the committees have included Pruitt’s former head of security, Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, former aide Kevin Chmielewski, Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson and senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt.

“To date, the Committee has conducted several transcribed interviews and obtained 2,350 pages of documents as part of our investigation into mismanagement and spending at the EPA,” Gonzalez added. “This month, the Committee will interview additional witnesses and receive additional document productions.”

An EPA spokesman said the agency is doing everything it can to respond to the inquiries of Gowdy and the Oversight Committee.

“We are working diligently with Chairman Gowdy and are in full cooperation in providing the Committee with the necessary documents, travel vouchers, receipts and witnesses to his inquiries.” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in an email.

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