Trump's Interior Secretary Zinke to step down amid ethics probes

Trump's Interior Secretary Zinke to step down amid ethics probes

Trump's Interior Secretary Zinke to step down amid ethics probes

Donald Trump said on Saturday that his interior secretary will be leaving soon - the latest in a series of high-profile departures from an administration beset by turnover and alleged ethical failings.

Trump added that Zinke had "accomplished much during his tenure" and that a new secretary of the interior would be announced next week. Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate in July 2017.

He also faced the prospect of congressional probes after newly elected Democrats take majority control of the House.

For the moment, Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of NY were eager to crow about the latest departure.

The New York Times reports that Zinke, a key figure in President Trump's sweeping plan to reshape the nation's environmental framework, would officially leave his past at the end of the year.

Mr Trump thanked the controversial congressman on Twitter.

Grijalva, the top Democrat on the committee, had previously made clear that after Democrats take control of the House next month they meant to summon Zinke to discuss his ethics issues.

Bernhardt, the deputy secretary, is in line to lead the Interior Department on an interim basis.

"While a few of these investigations have cleared Zinke of wrongdoing, many remain ongoing, and - perhaps most concerning - several were closed or were inconclusive due to a lack of cooperation with the probe or the Interior Department's failure to keep proper records", Zhang wrote.

Then there were travels with his wife, Lola Zinke, that have also come under the microscope.

For almost two years, Zinke - who is beset by multiple investigations into his conduct in office and real estate dealings in Montana - headed a department with an outsized role in Alaska, home to sweeping tracts of federal lands that constitute nearly two-thirds of the state.

The Associated Press reported last month that the department's internal watchdog had referred an investigation of the Interior Secretary to the Justice Department.

Earlier this month, Zinke unleashed a jarring personal attack on Grijalva, tweeting, "It's hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle".

The coming departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is being welcomed by environmentalists. "A well-managed Interior Department - one that puts the public good ahead of fossil fuel and mining industry demands - can be a boon to the entire country".

Murkowski remains chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources as well as the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.

Correction: December 15, 2018 12:00 am - An earlier version of this story said Ryan Zinke recommended the shrinking of two national monuments.

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