Scott Pruitt blamed staffers, the media, his job's "steep learning curve," and President Trump's enemies for numerous controversies during hours of testimony before Congress Thursday. "Let me be very clear: I have nothing to hide as its relates to how I've run the agency for the past 16 months," the Environmental Protection Agency administrator told a House subcommittee. He said he didn't know his request for "access to secure communication" would cause his staff to spend $43,000 on a phone booth, and that he would have refused it if he'd known, Politico reports. He said his controversial first-class travel was a decision made by his security staff after he received threats, adding that he plans to travel coach in the future.
Pruitt, who has allegedly retaliated against staffers who questioned his spending, said he had "delegated" pay raises for two staffers to his chief of staff but didn't know the amount, contradicting his earlier claim not to have known about the increases at all, the Guardian reports. Asked about allegations that top aide Samantha Dravis had failed to show up for work for around three months, Pruitt said he didn't know if she had been there or not. He accused his critics of wanting to "attack and derail the president's agenda and undermine this administration's priorities." Democrats accused him of abusing the position to "enrich himself and his corporate friends." "If I were the president, I wouldn't want your help—I'd just get rid of you," said Rep. Frank Pallone.