The EPA tried to cover up a meeting between agency head Scott Pruitt and a Vatican leader who is facing charges of sexual abuse. The cover-up is just the latest in a series of scandals in the department under Trump.
Scott Pruitt, the scandal-plagued head of the EPA, had a meeting with a Vatican leader facing accusations of sexual abuse — and the agency he leads went to great lengths to try to hide it from the American people.
Pruitt met for dinner with Cardinal George Pell while visiting Rome, part of the year of jet setting luxury travels he has engaged in since joining the Trump administration.
Pruitt's travels, at massive taxpayer expense, have prompted calls for him to be removed from his position. Trump has repeatedly expressed support for Pruitt and praised his work.
The dinner with Pell was not included on the official EPA description of the dinner, and three current and former EPA officials have told the New York Times that the omission was intentional.
Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff for operations, told the Times that the agency feared the meeting would reflect poorly on Pruitt if America knew the details.
The agency now claims Pruitt didn't know he was meeting Pell, but emails obtained from his scheduler ahead of the event directly refer to "Dinner with Cardinal Pell" and make a note of the Cardinal's birthday.
Pell served as the most senior Catholic cleric in Australia.
He has been charged with multiple instances of sexual abuse, stemming from his time at the St. Joseph’s boys home. He was granted a leave of absence by Pope Francis as he mounts his defense against the charges in Australian court.
References to Pruitt's meeting with Pell were purged from four different versions of Pruitt's schedule obtained by the Times.
Pruitt's actions are not isolated or occurring in a vacuum. The deception and cover-up involving Pell are just the latest sordid chapter in the ongoing Pruitt saga, which itself is part of the systemic corruption that runs through Trump's cabinet and his presidency.
Trump embraces corruption. He refuses to follow the ethical guidelines followed by presidents of both parties while his inner circle sells off access to the highest bidder and his cabinet flies around in luxury accommodations at taxpayer expense.
Covering up a meeting with an accused sexual predator is right in line with what Trump embodies in the U.S. government.