Interior Secretary Zinke resigns amid investigations

Elias Hubbard
Декабря 17, 2018

"Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of nearly two years", Trump wrote on Twitter, highlighting the fact that Zinke's tenure was substantially longer than that of some other former top officials in the administration.

Zinke has been reportedly casting about for employment safety nets for a while, inquiring into posts at Fox News and energy companies. He has also mulled staying in politics, with an eye on the 2020 Montana governor race.

Though Trump has a great personal affinity for Zinke, the Interior Secretary has found himself in the middle of countless probes into his Scott Pruitt-esque ethical misdeeds and has always been pegged as a Cabinet official with numbered days. The Interior Department's inspector general initiated at least seven investigations against Zinke, while another federal investigative agency opened as many as six other inquiries into Zinke's behaviour, Bloomberg reported.

In late October, that investigation was referred to the U.S. Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation, according to multiple media reports.

The Zinke announcement came just a week after another impending high-profile departure - that of Trump's chief of staff John Kelly - was made public.

This departure comes as numerous ethics investigations into Mr Zinke's business dealings, travel and policy decisions are underway, sparking fears the secretary may have violated ethics rules.

Hawaiʻi Senator Mazie Hirono called Zinke's resignation "long-overdue" in a written statement on Saturday.

Grijalva spokesman Adam Sarvana said Saturday that committee leaders still meant to ask for Zinke's testimony.

Nancy Pelosi, who's expected to become the Speaker of the House again next month, said Zinke was "a shameless handmaiden for the special interests" and someone who had "staggering ethical abuses have delivered a serious and lasting blow to America's public lands, environment, clean air and clean water".

Top Democrat leaders Saturday were quick to bash Zinke, one even calling him part of the swamp that needed to be drained.

Under Zinke's watch, the Interior Department moved to auction off more oil leases, ended a moratorium on new sales of federally owned coal, and repealed mandates governing drilling.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, is leaving weeks before Democrats take control of the House, a shift in power that promised to intensify probes into his conduct. "His slash-and-burn approach was absolutely destructive for public lands and wildlife".

Trump on Friday tapped Mick Mulvaney - the director of the Office of Management and Budget - to serve as chief of staff on an acting basis, setting him up to be the third person to hold the post since the president took office in early 2017. "Different people, same appetite for greed and profit".

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