Trump to 'take a look' at Zinke ethics allegations

Trump to 'take a look' at Zinke ethics allegations
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE said Monday he would “take a look” at the allegations that Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: EPA official steps down after indictment on ethics charges | Sanders to hold town hall on climate | Zinke slams 'environmental radicals' for fires Zinke blames ‘environmental radicals’ for deadly California fires Lawmakers say California will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief MORE violated ethics rules, but added he has not yet seen the claims, which have been referred to the Justice Department.

“I think he’s done a very good job. I do think he’s done a very good job,” Trump told reporters shortly before boarding Air Force One for a series of campaign rallies on the eve of Tuesday's midterm elections.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll take a look. I’m going to look at any reports, I’ll take a look. Certainly, I would not be happy with that at all,” Trump said of the allegations, adding again that Zinke has “done a very good job as secretary.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigators have at least seven ongoing investigations involving Zinke.

The Justice Department is now investigating whether Zinke improperly entered a business deal regarding land in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., with David Lesar, the chairman of oilfield services company Halliburton.

The deal, first reported by Politico, involved a nonprofit that Zinke used to lead, but that he exited before becoming Interior secretary — and which his wife now leads. Halliburton stands to benefit from numerous policies at Interior, which oversees oil and gas drilling on federal land, among other responsibilities.

It was first reported last week that Interior's OIG had referred the matter to Justice, which could choose to press criminal charges against Zinke.

Stephen Ryan, Zinke’s lawyer, said last week that the secretary had “done nothing wrong.”

OIG investigators are also looking into whether Zinke acted improperly when he denied an application to build an American Indian casino in Connecticut after a competitor lobbied against it, and when he recommended the shrinking of a Utah national monument in a way that benefited a local lawmaker.

— Jordan Fabian contributed.