Pruitt’s Dinner With Cardinal Accused of Abuse Was Kept Off Public Schedule

Cardinal Pell’s presence at the dinner was initially revealed in E.P.A. emails obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, this week. “I am at dinner with Cardinal Pell and Mr. Pruitt,” Samantha Dravis, Mr. Pruitt’s former policy chief, wrote the evening of the dinner to another Vatican official.

Ms. Dravis, reached Friday, said she did not know about the investigation into Cardinal Pell at the time of the dinner, and did not participate in any conversations or deliberations about whether the cardinal’s name should be left off the schedule.

At the dinner, Mr. Pruitt and Cardinal Pell discussed a plan of Mr. Pruitt’s to stage public debates challenging the established science of climate change, the email shows.

The emails also show that much of Mr. Pruitt’s time in Rome was spent attending events recommended or arranged by Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that promotes limits on federal regulations. The May emails suggest that Mr. Leo was involved in planning for a dinner.

Mr. Leo did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Chmielewski said that a move to keep Cardinal Pell off official schedules came after Cardinal Pell was charged on June 29. Some senior members of the agency’s leadership team agreed that it was best not to list Cardinal Pell’s name in any official schedule the agency would release, according to Mr. Chmielewski and a second agency official. Mr. Chmielewski said that he personally shared that view.

At least four versions of Mr. Pruitt’s formal and detailed schedules for his week in Italy — one posted online, and three released under the Freedom of Information Act — have been obtained by The New York Times. Two of them list individual attendees at the dinner, including Mr. Pruitt and his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson. None include Cardinal Pell’s name.

Mr. Chmielewski joined the E.P.A. in 2017 after having worked on Republican presidential campaigns. Earlier this year, he said, he was fired from the agency for challenging Mr. Pruitt’s spending decisions. Mr. Pruitt faces 11 investigations into his spending and management practices at the agency. Mr. Pruitt testified to Congress recently that Mr. Chmielewski resigned.