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Trump says 'no' to firing Ryan Zinke

Trump says 'no' to firing Ryan Zinke
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE walked back expectations Friday that Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report MORE might be the next Cabinet member to depart.

When asked by reporters at the White House Friday morning whether he plans to fire the controversial secretary, Trump responded, "No."

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He added that he was continuing to look into the accusations surrounding the embattled secretary, who faces a number of investigations including one referred recently to the Department of Justice.

"No. I’m going to look into any complaints," Trump said.

"If there are any complaints, I’ll look into them."

Earlier this week Trump told reporters he was looking into the future of Zinke and could have an answer about him as early as next week. 

“We’re looking at that, and I do want to study whatever is being said … We will probably have an idea about that in about a week," Trump said at a White House news conference. 

At the time he said Zinke was doing an "excellent" job but said Cabinet shake-ups were likely after the midterm election. Later that day Trump announced Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' MORE's exit.

Zinke is facing a handful of investigations from Interior’s Office of the Inspector General and elsewhere into his compliance with ethics rules.

The OIG recently referred its probe into a land deal he made with Halliburton Chairman David Lesar to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.

Zinke is also under investigation for an American Indian casino in Connecticut he declined to approve after lobbying by a competitor, and for his role in redrawing a national monument’s boundaries in Utah in a manner that benefited a state lawmaker.

 — Timothy Cama contributed.