Feb 13, 2018

Pruitt: Security issues to blame for pricey travel plans

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Pete Marovich / Getty Images

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt blamed security decisions for the reason why he has been taking numerous first-class flights or military jets at the expense of taxpayers.

Why it matters: A handful of Trump administration officials including Pruitt have been under intense scrutiny for flying charter, military or private jets paid for by taxpayers. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Pruitt and his top aides' taxpayer-funded travel cost at least $90,000 during a two-week stretch in June of last year. In one case, he spent $1,641.43 for a first-class seat flight from Washington, D.C. to New York City, The Post reports.

What he's saying: Pruitt told the New Hampshire Union Leader that "some incidents," since he started his post, have forced his security team to fly him first class.

  • “We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” he said. “We've reached the point where there's not much civility in the marketplace and it's created, you know, it's created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat."

CBS News’ Julianna Goldman reports that Pruitt flew business class from Milan, Italy in June, which cost $43,000 in total. He also received a certificate allowing him to fly on a non-U.S. carrier en route to D.C. in time for a Cabinet meeting with President Trump on June 12, according to Goldman.

Go deeper: The Trump officials caught splurging on luxury travel

Go deeper

New Zealand sets sights on coronavirus elimination after 2 weeks of lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a coronavirus media update at the New Zealand Parliament. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand has flattened the curve of novel coronavirus cases after two weeks of lockdown and the next phase is to "squash it," professor Shaun Hendy, who heads a scientific body advising the government on COVID-19, told Axios.

Why it matters: Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Center of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland of which Hendy is director, released research Thursday showing there could've been hundreds more Covid-19 cases were it not for the lockdown — and that there's a good chance of eliminating the virus.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 14,800

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected more than 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 36 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 1,484,811 — Total deaths: 88,538 — Total recoveries: 329,876Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 432,132 — Total deaths: 14,817 — Total recoveries: 23,906Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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