Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to resign, Grijalva releases statement

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke left and Lucas St. Clair look out over the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument in June. The new park survived a federal review of monuments nationwide considered for possible downsizing or expanded logging

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke left and Lucas St. Clair look out over the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument in June. The new park survived a federal review of monuments nationwide considered for possible downsizing or expanded logging

President Donald Trump announced Zinke's exit via twitter Saturday morning, and offered praise for the embattled Interior chief.

Trump, in tweeting Zinke's departure, said the former Montana congressman "accomplished much during his tenure" and that a replacement would be announced next week. "The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week". "The swamp cabinet will be a little less foul without him". The Department of Justice and the Interior Department have declined to comment.

The Interior Department's inspector general is investigating at least three other issues related to Zinke, including possibly improper travel expenditures for his wife and several probes into his conduct with government oversight groups.

Asked by reporters last month whether he might fire Zinke, Trump said, "No, I'm going to look into any complaints". Rep. Raul Grijalva, who's expected to head the influential House Natural Resources Committee in the coming term, had pressured Zinke to resign amid the reported ethics violations.

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"It's hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle", Zinke wrote from his official Twitter account on November 30. He has pursued Mr Trump's agenda to promote oil drilling and coal mining by expanding federal leasing, cutting royalty rates, and easing land protections.

"The next Interior Secretary should respect the American people's desire for strong environmental standards and an end to corporate favoritism", he continues.

He became a darling of the USA energy and mining industries and a prime target for conservationists and environmental groups. By contrast, Zinke "pushed the largest reduction of. treasured public lands in American history", proposed opening most of America's coasts to offshore oil drilling and "played a shell game" with wildfire budgeting during two of the most expensive wildfire seasons in US history, Wyden said.

Trump made the revelation on Twitter, saying that the Zinke will be leaving after having "served for a period of nearly two years".

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