×
Home Politics Politics News

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Will Resign at the End of the Year

The president announced Zinke’s resignation in a Saturday morning tweet

Ryan Zinke

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Cliff Owen/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will step down from his position at the end of this year, according to a Saturday morning tweet from President Donald Trump. Although Trump offered no explanation for Zinke’s departure, the interior secretary’s tenure has been plagued by ethics investigations.

Trump said that a replacement will be named next week. Zinke joins White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who will also leave his post at year’s end.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, was serving as Montana’s congressman when he was selected to be Trump’s first interior secretary. Under Zinke, the Department of the Interior shrank land designated as national monument at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 85 percent and opened up almost the entire U.S. coastline to natural gas and oil drilling. Zinke’s Interior Department also gutted protections for animals including the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Justice Department is currently investigating Zinke and whether he used his office for personal gain. The Interior’s inspector general has found that Zinke allowed his wife to travel using government vehicles against department policy and for using $12,000 in taxpayer money to charter a plane after he delivered a speech to a professional hockey team owned by a donor to Zinke’s congressional campaign. The inspector general is also looking into Zinke’s blocking of a casino application from two Native American tribes after competitor MGM lobbied heavily against it. He has also been under scrutiny for spending nearly $140,000 to repair a door to his office.

Zinke responded to news of his resignation in a tweeted statement on Saturday afternoon. He praised the president but also claimed he was resigning because of “false allegations.” “It is better for the President and Interior to focus on accomplishments rather than fictitious allegations,” Zinke said.

But reporting by the Washington Post reveals White House officials gave Zinke an ultimatum weeks ago: leave by the end of the year or you’ll be fired. But, before he left, he wanted to throw a Christmas party with lobbyists, donors, and conservative activists in his executive suite. At the party, Zinke “posed for photos in front of a large stuffed polar bear wearing a Santa cap,” one attendee told the Post.

Zinke’s resignation comes as Democrats are poised to take over in the House of Representatives. Rep. Raul Griljalva (D-AZ), the incoming chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, had already promised to open investigations into a land deal between Zinke’s family and Halliburton chairman David Lesar. Griljalva also called for Zinke’s resignation in a November op-ed.

In This Article: Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke

Show Comments

Newswire

Powered by
Close comments

Add a comment