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Scott Pruitt. Photo: Jason Andrew/Getty Images

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he gave his Chief of Staff, Ryan Jackson, the go-ahead to give controversial raises to two trusted aides at the EPA.

Why it matters: This issue is particularly fraught because the White House had initially denied the raises. To the extent Pruitt admits he defied the White House, it could be more damaging to him than the various spending controversies.

The buzz: Fox News’ John Roberts says Pruitt is confirming that he lied on Fox News when he said he wasn’t aware of the raises. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that three administration officials said Pruitt “endorsed the idea” of the raises.

What was said:

Rep. Tonko: "Did you, administrator, authorize [Chief of Staff Ryan] Jackson to sign those documents for you?"
Pruitt: "Those were delegated to Mr. Jackson and the Inspector General did reference that in his management alert…"
Rep. Tonko: "So...you did authorize him?"
Pruitt: "That decision was made by…"
Rep. Tonko: "Yes or no?"
Pruitt: "There were delegations giving him that authority."
Rep. Tonko: "That’s a yes?"
Pruitt: "The Inspector General recognized that, Congressman."
Rep. Tonko: "...Sarah Greenwald, one of the aides who received a substantial raise said you were aware of and supported the raises…"
Pruitt: "...I was not aware of the amount…nor was I aware...of the bypassing or the PPO process not being respected."

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Economy & Business

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 13 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Pity the "green" car buyer

Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit Data; Note: Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Americans are more open than ever to trading in their gas cars for electrified vehicles — but they're flummoxed by the confusing array of green options arriving in showrooms.

Why it matters: Getting up to speed on the differences among hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles will be a challenge for car buyers — and salespeople, too — as we transition away from gas-powered vehicles over the next decade.

Updated 14 mins ago - Technology

America's attention recession

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New data shows that there's been a pullback from the historically high levels of media audience growth — and in some cases consumption — during 2020, pointing to signs of a slight "attention recession" in the past few months.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic drove a once-in-a-lifetime surge in the attention economy online, but the gradual return of normal life in many places — along with media overload and exhaustion — has down-shifted consumption patterns.