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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's scandal list started with excess bodyguards and first class flights, and has reached the level of farce, leaving him battered by almost daily scoops on his requests for favors and questionable uses of federal resources.

Why it matters: I've been saying this a lot, but this isn't normal.

Over the past two weeks, press reports revealed Pruitt:

  • Asked a public relations executive to get him Rose Bowl tickets. He secured them at face value when the going rate was as much as 7x higher. [NYT]
  • Used EPA staffers to help land his daughter a White House internship. [NYT]
  • Asked a top staffer to reach out to GOP donors to get his wife a job. [WaPo]
  • Used his security detail to pick up dry cleaning and search around D.C. for the right kind of lotion. [WaPo]

The big picture: Former aides told the NYT that "Pruitt told them that he expected a certain standard of living akin to wealthier Trump cabinet members. The aides felt as if Mr. Pruitt — who is paid about $180,000 a year — saw them as foot soldiers in achieving that lifestyle."

Go deeper: Scott Pruitt's growing list of bizarre scandals.

Editor's note: We have removed from the above list that Pruitt asked a former Virginia politician for a recommendation letter for his daughter's application to the University of Virginia Law School. The story was originally reported by The New York Times, which issued a correction on June 18, 2018 that the letter was written while Pruitt was still attorney general of Oklahoma — before his stint as EPA administrator.

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Go deeper

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.