“The Justice Department’s public integrity section is examining whether newly departed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to his agency’s inspector general investigators, according to three people familiar with the matter, a potential criminal violation that would exacerbate Zinke’s legal woes,” the Washington Post reports.
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke “submitted his resignation to the White House Saturday, facing intense pressure from the White House amid multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in Montana and conduct while in office,” the Washington Post reports.
“While the former Navy SEAL and Montana congressman worked aggressively to promote Trump’s agenda of expanding domestic energy production, administration officials concluded weeks ago that he ranked as the Cabinet member most vulnerable to congressional investigations once Democrats took control of Congress in January.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a scathing statement against Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the incoming chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, accusing Grijalva of “drunken and hostile behavior” after the congressman called for Zinke’s resignation in a USA Today op-ed.
Said Zinke: “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blamed “environmental radicals” for the deadly wildfires in California, saying after he toured the damage from the Camp Fire that environmentalists stop forest management practices that could have prevented the fires, CBS News reports.
Said Zinke: “I will lay this on the foot of those environmental radicals that have prevented us from managing the forests for years. And you know what? This is on them.”
But he also added that “it’s not the time for finger-pointing” on the causes of the fires.
“White House officials have identified Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as the Cabinet member most vulnerable to a congressional probe under a Democratic majority in January, putting the colorful secretary closer into the president’s crosshairs,” the Washington Post reports.
“The new assessment comes as President Trump is weighing whether to dismiss Zinke… Trump has told aides he will make a decision next week after he returns from Paris.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reached out to Fox News inquiring about working at the conservative news channel as a contributor, Politico reports.
“Zinke’s outreach came as the scandal-plagued former Navy SEAL and Montana congressman is looking for employment opportunities after he exits Interior, as is expected. Zinke is also seeking positions on energy company boards of directors or even with private equity firms.”
“The White House is growing increasingly concerned about allegations of misconduct against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Trump has asked aides for more information about a Montana land deal under scrutiny by the Justice Department,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump told his aides that he is afraid Zinke has broken rules while serving as the interior secretary and is concerned about the Justice Department referral… But the president has not indicated whether he will fire the former Navy SEAL and congressman and has asked for more information.”
“The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its ongoing probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation,” the Washington Post reports.
“Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall, who is currently serving as acting inspector general, is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. The individuals, who spoke of the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “sought to skirt or alter department policies to justify his taxpayer-funded trips with his wife, the agency’s inspector general said in the latest critical report on travel practices by President Trump’s Cabinet members,” Politico reports.
“Zinke’s maneuvers included pressing Interior staffers to research whether his wife, Lola, could become a volunteer at the agency, a move the employees said was designed to enable her to travel with him at taxpayer expense.”
“At last count, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was the subject of 14 separate government investigations. (A new record!) But that number could soon be zero. That’s because Zinke just fired the Department of the Interior’s acting inspector general,” Outside reports.
“The news doesn’t stop there. Not only did Mary Kendall, the acting inspector general, not learn she was being replaced until The Hill broke the news this morning, but her replacement will likely be able to fill the role without needing to go through Senate confirmation.”
CNN: “The meetings are coming to light now only because of internal memos and other notes, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, that reveal these meetings and others that were not noted on his calendar, glaring omissions from what is supposed to be a complete record of the secretary’s activities.”
“The monthly calendars the Interior Department has released publicly in response to Freedom of Information Act requests have often left off or obscured some meetings. More detailed accounts of Zinke’s time are found in separate briefing memos prepared by his staff, which have not been released with the calendars and were obtained only by filing another FOIA request.”
“The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has launched a full investigation into a real estate deal involving a foundation established by Ryan Zinke and developers including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar,” Politico reports.
“The inspector general’s probe will focus on whether Zinke violated conflict of interest laws, the latest official inquiry of Zinke’s activities in his 16 months helming the department.”
“As EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faces a seemingly endless stream of scandal, his team is scrambling to divert the spotlight to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And the White House isn’t happy about it,” The Atlantic reports.
“In the last week, a member of Pruitt’s press team, Michael Abboud, has been shopping negative stories about Zinke to multiple outlets… The stories were shopped with the intention of ‘taking the heat off of Pruitt,’ the sources said, in the aftermath of the EPA chief’s punishing congressional hearing last week.”
“Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist.”
“A polling firm has been calling Iowa Republican voters to test Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s name recognition for a possible presidential run, presumably in 2024,” the Des Moines Register reports.
“This shows that the White House sweepstakes has started very early, and that Zinke is known in D.C. as somebody with White House ambitions.”
Several employees at the Interior Department have told CNN that Secretary Ryan Zinke repeatedly “says that he won’t focus on diversity, an apparent talking point that has upset many people within the agency.”
Three high-ranking Interior officials said that Zinke has made several comments with a similar theme, saying “diversity isn’t important,” or “I don’t care about diversity,” or “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.”
Records show the Interior Department spent nearly $139,000 last year for construction at the agency that was labeled on a work order as “Secretary’s Door,” the AP reports.