Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the latest high-profile departure from the Trump administration. Picture: AFP
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the latest high-profile departure from the Trump administration. Picture: AFP

Trump rocked by another resignation

US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave his post at the end of the year, in the latest high-profile departure from President Donald Trump's administration.

When announcing it on Twitter, Mr Trump did not give a reason for Mr Zinke's departure but the former congressman from Montana has come under scrutiny for his use of security details, chartered flights and a real estate deal.

His resignation comes just weeks before Democrats take control of the House, a shift in power that promises to sharpen the probes into the Interior Secretary's conduct.

Mr Trump thanked the controversial congressman on Twitter.

"Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation," he wrote.

He added that the "Trump administration will be announcing the new secretary of the Interior next week."

Mr Zinke, 57, has run the Interior Department overseeing America's vast public lands since early 2017.

He played a leading part in Mr Trump's efforts to roll back environmental regulations and promote domestic energy development.

When he recently travelled to survey damage from California's wildfires, Mr 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.

He also pushed to develop oil, natural gas and coal beneath public lands in line with the administration's business-friendly aims.

However, he has been dogged by ethics probes, including one centred 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.

 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Ryan Zinke “toxic”. Picture: AP
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Ryan Zinke “toxic”. Picture: AP

 

 

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

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

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was scathing about Mr Zinke in response to the news he was leaving.

"Ryan Zinke was one of the most toxic members of the cabinet in the way he treated our environment, our precious public lands, and the way he treated the govt like it was his personal honey pot," the New York Democrat tweeted Saturday.

"The swamp cabinet will be a little less foul without him."



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