WASHINGTON – Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation Saturday, facing intense pressure from the White House amid multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in Montana and conduct while in office.
President Donald Trump announced Zinke’s exit via twitter Saturday morning, and offered praise for the embattled Interior chief.
“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,” the president tweeted, trailing off in a second sentence. “Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation.......”
While the former Navy SEAL and Montana congressman worked aggressively to promote Trump’s agenda of expanding domestic energy production, administration officials concluded weeks ago that he ranked as the Cabinet member most vulnerable to congressional investigations once Democrats took control of Congress in January.
During his nearly two years in office, Zinke came under at least 15 investigations, including inquiries into his connection to a real estate deal involving a company that Interior regulates; whether he bent government rules to allow his wife to ride in government vehicles; and allowing a security detail to travel with him on a vacation to Turkey at considerable cost.
Zinke was cleared in several of those investigations, and chose to attack his critics rather adopt a more chastened tone. Late last month, he accused Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz. – who had called on Zinke to step down and is poised to take over the committee that oversees Interior in January – a drunk.
“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke wrote from his official Twitter account on Nov. 30.