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Donald Trump is losing another member of his administration

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will quit at the end of the year.

Trump's administration has seen a huge turnover of staff.
Trump's administration has seen a huge turnover of staff.
Image: PA Images

UNITED STATES’ INTERIOR Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is facing federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, will leave the administration at year’s end, President Donald Trump confirmed today.

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 is leaving weeks before Democrats take control of the House, a shift in power that promises to sharpen the probes into his conduct.

His departure comes amid a staff shake-up as Trump heads into his third year in office facing increased legal exposure due to intensifying investigations into his campaign, business, foundation and administration.

Zinke, 57, played a leading part in Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations and promote domestic energy development. When he recently travelled to survey damage from California’s wildfires, Zinke echoed Trump’s claims that lax forest management was to blame in the devastation. Fire scientists, however, say forest management was not a leading contributor.

Zinke pushed to develop oil, natural gas and coal beneath public lands in line with the administration’s business-friendly aims. But he has been dogged by ethics probes, including one centered on a Montana land deal involving a foundation he created and the chairman of an energy services company that does business with the Interior Department.

Interior Secretary Departing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Source: Cliff Owen/PA Images

Investigators also are reviewing Zinke’s decision to block two tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut and his redrawing of boundaries to shrink a Utah national monument. Zinke has denied wrongdoing.

The Associated Press reported last month that the department’s internal watchdog had referred an investigation of Zinke to the Justice Department.

Trump told reporters this autumn that he was evaluating Zinke’s future in the administration in light of the allegations and offered a lukewarm vote of confidence. 

His departure comes amid sweeping changes in the president’s administration.

Yesterday, Trump named White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as his next chief of staff and, earlier in the month, announced his intent to nominate William Barr as attorney general.

Zinke is the 36th official to leave the Trump administration. 

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Associated Press

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