Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Resigns As 15 Ethics Investigations Close In On Him
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is on his way out, President Donald Trump announced Saturday, making him the latest in a long line of Trump administration Cabinet officials who’ve opted to resign amid calls for investigation into their unethical behavior.
Zinke resigned following reports that the United States Justice Department is considering to pursue a criminal investigation into the former congressman-from-Montana’s dealings while serving as the Interior Secretary.
In fact, the Interior Departments own internal watchdog has been investigating Zinke for both his ties to a Montana land deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, Dave Lesar, as well as into whether the secretary was doing favors for any lobbyists following the department’s stonewalling of two Native American tribes in Connecticut from receiving casino licenses.
Trump announced the news early Saturday thanking the Secretary for his service in a tweet.
Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2018
Zinke’s decision to step down by the end of the year was predictably met with a sweeping sigh of relief by Democrats and commiseration from Republicans.
Republicans such as Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) spoke highly of the outgoing secretary saying that “while others dithered he got stuff done.” Newly elected House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi described the outgoing secretary, in a statement, as a “handmaiden for special interests” before lambasting Zinke’s record, referencing his “staggering ethical abuses [which] have delivered a serious and lasting blow to America’s public lands, environment, clean air and clean water.”
During his tenure, Zinke came under the cross hairs of at least 15 different investigations, some of which included whether he bent government rules to allow his wife to ride in government vehicles as well as allowing a security detail to travel with him while vacationing in Turkey at the considerable expense of taxpayers.
In a private resignation letter that was obtained by the Washington Post, Zinke blamed his departure on “vicious and politically motivated attacks.” On Twitter, the outgoing secretary released a statement explaining that he cannot in good faith “justify spending thousands of dollars on myself and my family against false allegations,” and that it would be “better for the President and the Interior on accomplishments rather than fictitious allegations.”
I love working for the President and am incredibly proud of all the good work we’ve accomplished together. However, after 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations. Full statement attached. pic.twitter.com/gwo75SA6bM
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) December 15, 2018