Trump says 'no' to firing Ryan Zinke

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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE walked back expectations Friday that Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Zinke cleared of violating federal rules tied to Pennsylvania special election Overnight Energy: Trump unveils 2020 budget | Plan slashes funds for EPA, Interior and Energy | Interior request highlights border security 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 SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump 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.