EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had a gourmet meal last summer with a Cardinal who his staff knew was being investigated for sexual abuse in Italy, and subsequently tried to cover it up, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.
According to an email the Times obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, planning for the dinner started in May 2017, when aides learned after vetting that Cardinal George Pell was being investigated for sexual abuse. A private tour of the Vatican with the Cardinal was apparently also planned, though it never happened.
EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox sent a short statement in response. “On June 9, 2017, Administrator Pruitt had dinner with over a dozen leaders from the Holy See and on June 29, 2017, Cardinal Pell was charged.” He did not respond to questions about if Pruitt knew that Pell was being investigated at the time.
Additionally, the restaurant that the men dined at during the June 2017 trip, La Terrazza, reportedly costs hundreds of dollars per plate, a meal that Pruitt had as part of an official EPA trip. It is also unclear what official business Pruitt had with Pell, who is reportedly a climate change skeptic.
According to the Times’ documents, the EPA then put out four different versions of Pruitt’s schedule from that day, all of which omit Pell’s name.
Pell, one of the Vatican’s highest-ranking officials, is currently set to stand trial on many charges of sexual abuse.
Read the documents obtained by the New York Times below: