Pruitt and Zinke are viewed as among Trump's most productive Cabinet officials and key to the president's policy of expanding energy production and exports by slashing environmental regulations and opening federal lands to drilling and mining.
The EPA did not immediately respond to request for comment; the organization had said that the phone booth should not be included as part of office decorations, a claim the GAO rebutted in its report. According to Kevin Chmielewski, a senior EPA official who served as Pruitt's deputy chief of staff until he was put on unpaid administrative leave earlier this year, Pruitt apparently used his director of scheduling as his personal real estate agent, considered spending $100,000 a month on a private jet rental service, and told his staff to "find me something to do" in particular cities and countries that he wanted to visit for reasons apparently unrelated to his work at EPA. In Minoli's letter, EPA told GAO that the booth "not only enables the Administrator to make and receive phone calls to discuss sensitive information, but it also enables him to use this area to make and receive classified telephone calls (up to the top secret level) for the goal of conducting agency business".
Pruitt's office said he needed the secure booth to make classified calls..
Agency heads frequently have email accounts that aren't revealed to the public, in addition to standard accounts to which anyone could send messages.
GAO stressed it was not ruling on whether Pruitt's phone booth itself broke the law, rather that EPA's failure to notify Congress about its spending above the $5,000 limit was the breach.
In its explanation to the GAO included in the report, the EPA equated the booth to other necessary office supplies and argued it was needed to "support specific mission requirements" and allow Pruitt to carry out agency business "without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged, or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed to those who are not meant to receive such information".
Ghazni District Retaken After Deadly Attack
Abdul Shukoor Qudusi said the driver was wounded in the Wednesday night explosion, which set several shops in the area on fire. The attackers planted mines to prevent government reinforcements from coming and quickly took responsibility for the attack.
The GAO had been asked to investigate the matter by Democratic lawmakers.
The chief of personnel to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt authorized salary increases to three or more staff - just one of that was values 72 percent revealed.
If the agency had informed the House and Senate Appropriations committees of the plans to spend that amount on the booth, investigators said, its installation would not have been illegal. Donald Trump shouldn't wait to see what ethical norm or law Pruitt breaks next. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said EPA needs to make "a full public accounting" of its spending on Pruitt's phone booth. Trump's EPA ended up violating two laws in the process, according to a new report by the US Government Accountability Office that was obtained by BuzzFeed News.
"It is critical that EPA and all federal agencies comply with notification requirements to Congress before spending tax payer dollars", the Wyoming Republican said.
EPA in the past has run up against GAO legal opinions.
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