Ryan Zinke

Pruitt Aide Shops Negative Stories About Zinke

“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.”

Ryan Zinke Falsely Claims He’s a Geologist

CNN: “Since becoming leader of the 70,000-employee agency, Zinke has suggested that he was a geologist or former geologist at least 40 times in public settings, including many under oath before Congress.
He uses it as a credential booster… He also uses it while discussing coal revenue, seismic activity, climate change, national monuments, precious metals, endangered species, fracking and drilling.”

“Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist.”

Zinke Tells Staff Diversity Isn’t Important

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.”

Trump Turns on His Interior Secretary

Jonathan Swan: “Two weeks ago, Zinke made an announcement that surprised the White House (and over Twitter, no less, after telling reporters at the Tallahassee airport): the waters around Florida would be exempt from his agency’s offshore oil and gas leasing program. Zinke’s announcement came shortly after he met with the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott.”

“Trump has made clear to Zinke that he’s angry about this move… Zinke’s decision is both legally and politically dangerous for the Trump administration. Zinke did not coordinate with anybody, and gave the White House no forewarning of his controversial action.”

Zinke Directed Donors to Scam PACs

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has directed millions of dollars in political contributions since 2014 to a network of Washington operatives that prominent conservatives have accused of profiting by misleading donors,” Politico reports.

“Beneficiaries of Zinke’s largesse include groups linked to Washington-area political operative Scott Mackenzie, organizer of a Virgin Islands GOP political action committee that hosted the secretary at a St. Croix fundraiser in March. Before that, when Zinke was a Republican congressman from Montana, his political operation steered significant portions of its spending to a handful of Washington, D.C.-area consulting firms that also have had ties to Mackenzie and his associates.”

Trump Threatens Alaska Over Murkowski’s Vote

President Trump “isn’t going to just let Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) no vote on Tuesday’s health care motion go,” the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

“Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski’s vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.”

David Nather: “If true — White House and Interior Department spokespeople didn’t respond to the paper’s requests for comment — it would be an unusually blunt retaliation for a senator’s vote. And it raises questions about whether other GOP senators will get the same treatment.”

Quote of the Day

“The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

— Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, quoted by E&E News, suggesting a border wall could be placed on the Mexican side of the U.S. border.

Trump Picks Zinke for Interior

“President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), who has represented Montana’s at-large congressional seat for one term, to serve as secretary of the Department of the Interior,” the Washington Post reports.

Playbook: “Donald Trump Jr., the president elect’s eldest son, was involved with the interview process for Interior secretary, according to sources familiar with the discussions. He sat in on interviews, and made calls to candidates, according to sources familiar with the process. Don Jr. is known as an avid outdoorsman, which is why he might have an interest in the next Interior secretary.”