A career staffer with the EPA is out of a job, and the timing of Mario Caraballo's dismissal is grabbing headlines. Politico spoke with two sources who say the deputy associate administrator of the EPA's Office of Homeland Security was the one who signed off on an internal report that downplayed the threats against Scott Pruitt that were detailed in a previous assessment—threats that the agency says has justified his expanded 24-hour security detail and first-class airfare. Though the report was written Feb. 14, Caraballo was removed Tuesday after two Senate Democrats cited the report as evidence the spending on Pruitt's security is outsize. A rep for the EPA said there was no connection between the two, and a source tells Politico the EPA internally said Caraballo was fired over a decades-old personnel issue related to a prior military job.
Democratic Sens. Tom Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse quoted the report in a letter sent to Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso on Tuesday, effectively publicizing parts of it. (They were arguing for oversight hearings into the reported $3 million spent on Pruitt's security; Barrasso shut the request down.) One line: that the previous assessment compiled by Pruitt's security team had "not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA administrator." The senators also highlighted so-called threats against Pruitt, which included a postcard that read "CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!!! We are watching you." USA Today reports on a statement from Carper and Whitehouse that branded Caraballo's dismissal as "deeply troubling." (Read more Scott Pruitt stories.)