Interior secretary Zinke to leave administration by end of year, Trump says

Interior secretary Zinke to leave administration by end of year, Trump says
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was appointed by Trump in 2016. The president announced on Dec. 15 that Zinke was leaving his administration.

(RNN) - President Donald Trump announced Saturday that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be leaving the administration at the end of the year.

Trump made the announcement via Twitter.

“Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be leaving the administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation,” Trump said in the tweet.

The president said the administration will be announcing a new secretary “next week.”

Zinke is the 52nd secretary and was tapped by Trump in December 2016.

He was serving in Congress representing Montana at the time Trump selected him to serve on the cabinet. While in Congress, Zinke served on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees.

The U.S. Department of the Interior helps manage the country’s natural resources and cultural sites. The federal agency says on its website that it manages 20 percent of the land in America, 35,000 miles of coastline, and 1.76 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf.

The department also works with the 562 Indian tribes and manages water supplies for more than 30 million people.

Zinke faced scrutiny from the moment he stepped into the position.

He was criticized for saying “Konnichiwa” to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who was on Capitol Hill testifying against his plan to eliminate funding for institutions that focus on the history of Japanese-Americans, particularly the internment camps where Japanese-Americans were kept during World War II.

“The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans is no laughing matter, Secretary Zinke. What you thought was a clever response to Rep. Hanabusa was flippant and juvenile,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, in a tweet back in March.

He also came under fire for taking chartered jet flights which sparked a review.

One of the flights that caused the review was a June 26 trip to speak to the Vegas Golden Knights, a new NHL team owned by Bill Foley, a donor to Zinke's previous political campaign, CNN reported. The flight cost $12,375 and was approved by the Department of the Interior ethics office.

He planned to spend $139,000 to repair his office doors. He later said he managed to get the cost of repairing the doors halved.

Zinke also sparked criticism with his plan to dramatically raise fees to some national parks. Twelve advisory board members resigned in January after he refused to meet with them.

The 57-year-old is former team leader of SEAL Team SIX. The University of Oregon graduate earned a degree in geology. He also has a master’s in business finance and global leadership from the University of San Diego.

Zinke and his wife Lolita have two boys, and a daughter.

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