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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
13 mins ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.