Interior Secy. Zinke to step down at end of the year

President Trump’s Interior Chief to step down

BREAKING: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to Leave Administration This Month

15 announced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave his administration at the end of the year - and said he would nominate a new Interior chief next week.

President Trump tweeted about Zinke's departure Saturday morning.

Zinke was among Trump's most active Cabinet members, cutting huge wilderness national monuments in Utah to a fraction of their size and proposing offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic.

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

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer applauded Zinke's departure in a tweet. "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", Schumer said.

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On Saturday, Trump announced that Zinke would step down at the end of this year after two years in office.

Zinke tied his departure to the burden of "false allegations" against him.

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Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, had warned that after Democrats took control of the House they meant to call Zinke to testify on his ethics issues.

Politico reported that David Bernhardt, the deputy interior secretary and a former oil, gas and water industry lobbyist, is likely to be named acting Interior secretary.

The Justice Department is investigating Zinke for allegedly using his office for personal gain, following a referral from the Interior Department's inspector general.

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Like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and former EPA head Scott Pruitt, Zinke has also been accused of abusing taxpayer funds for flights.

Neither the White House nor the Interior Department responded to TheDCNF's requests for comment.

"It's hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle", Zinke wrote from his official Twitter account on November 30.

Zinke says the allegations are a farce, and pointed out on Twitter Saturday that he's been subject to a constant stream of Freedom of Information Act requests and politically motivated attacks since taking office, largely, he seems to feel, because he's been instrumental in rolling back restrictive Obama-era environmental policies that choked off industry and failed to move the cause of conservation forward.

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

Previously, the president had repeatedly praised Zinke's performance at Interior.

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Two outgoing Republican congressmen are said to be interested in the job.

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