The secretary just left Washington D.C., because he had not one but two inspector general probes related to his real estate transactions back home in Montana, and with a casino project put forth by Connecticut Native American tribes. In addition, Zinke has pulled off some outrageous moves.
For example, when he was in the office, he had a special flag that someone in the department had to raise. He installed new doors for his office at the cost of $139,000. He mistreated his employees, asking one of them to walk his dog.
His first move when he came into office was to spend his time selling off the rights to the voters’ public lands.
The inspector generals on real estate cases believed that Zinke intentionally misled them, according to The Washington Post. Since it can be illegal to lie to these investigators, they referred the issue to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Then, the DOJ investigated whether there were any laws that Zinke had broken.
The DOJ’s public integrity section took on the case. However, it was not apparent how deep the roots of corruption reached, even though the inspector general had talked to witnesses about the matter.
The former secretary sent a farewell letter to his staff and also put his handwritten note on his Twitter account. Neither correspondence discussed the ethic allegations that caused Zinke to leave.
Zinke left the Trump administration as “the Cabinet member most vulnerable to a congressional probe.” He told the 70,000 department’s employees, the Washington Post reported:
‘When I was a Boy Scout, I was taught to leave the campsite better than I found it am confident that over the last 2 years, we have done that together for our public lands and the Department of the Interior.’
When a person makes false statements, investigators have to prove the person “knowingly and willfully” lied. With Zinke resigning, the prosecutors may be less interested in going after him.
Other Trump advisers have been charged with lying to Congress or investigators. They include the president’s original national security adviser Michael Flynn, an adviser to his campaign George Papadopoulos, and his former personal attorney and self-described fixer Michael Cohen.
POTUS had tired of Zinke, much like he has tired of other people in the administration. The president had wanted his former secretary to challenge Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) for the 2018 midterm election. In additional, Trump believed that Zinke had mishandled the president’s plan to increase offshore drilling.
A year ago, the former secretary went rogue and held a news conference with former Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) stating that he would exempt the entire state from offshore drilling. Trump was not pleased.
The former secretary also made a deal with the oil giant chair of Halliburton, which is headquartered in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
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