DOJ Investigating Ryan Zinke for Possibly Lying to Officials

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testifies before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a committee hearing on the President's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2019, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
JOSHUA CAPLAN

The Justice Department is investigating former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to discover if he made false statements to officials in his own agency, according to a report.

The Washington Post, citing three individuals with knowledge of the matter, reported on Thursday that Zinke, who departed his post on Wednesday, is the subject of two inspector general inquiries about his decision to block two tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut and a Montana land deal involving a foundation he created.

As the Associated Press reported in November, the department’s internal watchdog had referred an investigation of Zinke to the Justice Department.

Zinke’s travels with his wife, Lola Zinke, also came under scrutiny.

Interior’s inspector general’s office said Zinke allowed his wife to ride with him in government vehicles despite a department policy that prohibits nongovernment officials from doing so. Further, the report also stated the department spent more than $25,000 to provide security for the couple when they took a vacation to Turkey and Greece.

President Trump told reporters in the fall that he was evaluating Zinke’s future in the administration in light of the allegations and offered a lukewarm vote of confidence. In November, Zinke denied he already was hunting for his next job.

In his resignation letter, Zinke said that “vicious and politically motivated attacks” against him had “created an unfortunate distraction” in fulfilling the agency’s mission.

President 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 Cabinet post requires Senate confirmation.

Zinke, 57, played a leading role in Trump’s efforts to roll back federal environmental regulations and promote domestic energy development.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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