EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Sought Used Trump-Hotel Mattress, Aide Says - NBC 10 Philadelphia
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Sought Used Trump-Hotel Mattress, Aide Says

President Donald Trump has stood behind his embattled EPA chief

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Sought Used Trump-Hotel Mattress, Aide Says
    Alex Brandon/AP, File
    This April 26, 2018, file photo shows Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt remove his glasses as he testifies at a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt had a top aide seek a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel and perform other personal chores for him, including house-hunting and booking personal travel, according to testimony released Monday.

    Millan Hupp's transcribed interview last month before a panel of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staffers marks the first public accounting from one of Pruitt's closest aides on personal errands that she said the EPA chief had her do. The transcript was released Monday by committee Democrats.

    Asked about her email to managers of the Trump hotel at Pruitt's request, Hupp said Pruitt was trying to get a used mattress.

    "The administrator had spoken with someone at the Trump Hotel, who had indicated there could be a mattress he could purchase, an old mattress he could purchase," said Hupp, the EPA administrator's director of scheduling who came to Washington with Pruitt.

    Democrats Visit Detention Center In McAllen, Texas

    [NATL] Democrats Visit Detention Center In McAllen, Texas

    A delegation comprised of 25 Democratic members of Congress visited a detention center in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday and criticized the Trump Administration over its immigration policies.>

    (Published Saturday, June 23, 2018)

    She said she did not know what Pruitt planned to do with any mattress, but added, "It was around the same time that he was moving."

    Patricia Tang, the marketing director for the Trump International, denied that Pruitt was ever offered a used mattress.

    "No, that did not happen," Tang told The Associated Press. "We do not, and have not, ever sold used mattresses."

    Tang said the hotel's managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, responded to Hupp by email, telling her that no deals for used mattresses were available. Tang declined to provide a copy of that email.

    The Trump Organization does offer customers the opportunity to purchase new versions of the Stearns & Foster model used in its hotels under its Trump Home brand.

    Tang's account did not square with Hupp's closed-door congressional testimony.

    Trump to GOP: Stop Wasting Time on Immigration

    [NATL] Trump to GOP: Stop Wasting Time on Immigration

    After repeatedly calling on Congress to solve the immigration problem, President Donald Trump now wants lawmakers to delay immigration reform until after the midterm elections in November. 

    (Published Friday, June 22, 2018)

    "I do not recall ever connecting with someone on this topic, and I do not recall whatever came of the inquiry into the mattress," Hupp testified.

    President Donald Trump has stood behind his embattled EPA chief, but this is the first time an ethical question surrounding Pruitt has touched on part of the president's business empire.

    Asked Monday about the mattress, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they are looking into it. "I couldn't comment on the specifics of the furniture used in his apartment," she said.

    Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerald Connolly of Virginia called the errands a violation of federal law on gifts from subordinates and asked the majority to subpoena agency records they said were being withheld. They are the top Democrats on the House oversight committee and a subcommittee on government operations, respectively.

    "If Ms. Hupp's statements to the committee are accurate, Administrator Pruitt crossed a very clear line and must be held accountable," they wrote to committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican.

    Gowdy's spokeswoman Amanda Gonzalez criticized the Democrats for "selectively releasing" portions of closed-door testimony, saying it could undermine the investigation by discouraging potential witnesses from coming forward.

    States to Collect Online Sales Tax

    [NATL] States to Collect Online Sales Tax
    The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states can now require online businesses to collect sales tax, even if that business doesn't have a physical footprint there. The new ruling reverses a previous decision dating back to the days when shoppers flipped through catalogs instead of swiping through computer screens. 
     
    One government estimate says states stand to reap up to $13 billion in new revenue
    (Published Friday, June 22, 2018)

    EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the agency is "in full cooperation in providing the committee with the necessary documents, travel vouchers, receipts and witnesses to his inquiries." He did not answer questions about the mattress, including whether Pruitt actually got one and if so, how much he paid.

    A mattress deal between Pruitt and his boss' business would breach ethics codes only if the hotel did not usually sell mattresses to the public, or if Pruitt got a special deal, Craig Holman of the nonpartisan Public Citizen watchdog group said.

    But he said asking Hupp to carry out personal errands would be violating the federal ethics rules. The Office of Government Ethics "should be reading the headlines and calling Scott Pruitt as we speak," he said.

    It was not immediately clear whether the Trump hotel generally offers used mattresses for sale to the general public.

    A Trump hotel staffer who answered the phone Monday morning told The Associated Press that the hotel's standard mattress is a Stearns & Foster model that can be purchased through Trump Hotel guest services. The hotel's front desk provided a number to call.

    After an initial message wasn't returned, a reporter called again and was routed to a recording for new mattress sales at Temper + Sealy, the parent company of Stearns & Foster. The line was not accepting voicemails then.

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

    The District of Columbia has strict rules about the resale of used bedding and it is illegal under certain circumstances.

    The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

    Hupp, 26, worked on Pruitt's political team in Oklahoma before following him to Washington. Since arriving at EPA last year, Hupp's government salary jumped from $48,000 to $114,590, after she was awarded two salary hikes. Pruitt has denied having direct knowledge of the raises, which he said he would roll back following fierce criticism.

    EPA emails obtained by The Sierra Club under the Freedom of Information Act late last month show Hupp and another EPA staffer also contacted a Washington-area real estate agent during the work day.

    "Just checking in to make sure everything is taken care of with Mr. Pruitt," realtor John Walker wrote Hupp in one final email, in August 2017. Walker told The Associated Press he never actually showed any prospective homes to Pruitt or his staff.

    Hupp had denied using EPA email for Pruitt's house-hunting when she talked to House staffers. During congressional hearings last month, Pruitt told lawmakers he was "not aware of any government time being used by Millan Hupp" for the house-hunt.

    Trump: ‘I’ll Be Signing Something’ to Keep Families Together

    [NATL] Trump: ‘I’ll Be Signing Something’ to Keep Families Together

    President Donald Trump says he will be signing an order to keep families at the border together, a practice his administration began.

    (Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018)

    Hupp told the investigators that while she was on Christmas vacation, Pruitt asked her to book a flight for him to see his home-state Sooners play in the Rose Bowl. She said he had given her his personal credit card and she used that to make the reservation.

    EPA's Office of Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office and the House Oversight committee are conducting a dozen separate investigations into alleged misspending and ethical missteps involving Pruitt and his top aides.

    Federal law makes it a crime to "knowingly and willfully" give materially false statements to Congress.

    Pruitt has been under intense scrutiny since March, when media reports first revealed the EPA chief had rented a luxury Capitol Hill condo tied to a prominent oil and gas lobbyist for just $50 a night.

    Other recently disclosed examples of Pruitt seeking special treatment include his repeated use of first-class air travel, luxury hotel suits and directing his security staff to use lights and sirens to speed through Washington traffic to dinner reservations.

    Pruitt asked coal mining baron Joseph W. Craft III for courtside seats to a University of Kentucky basketball game, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

    Though the seats were in a section reserved for donors who had given at least a million dollars to the university, Wilcox said Pruitt paid just the face value of $130 for each ticket. Wilcox told the Times that Pruitt paid the billionaire in cash and that there was no receipt.