DOJ probing whether Zinke lied to Interior investigators: report

The Justice Department is probing former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule MORE, who left the agency Wednesday, for potentially lying to investigators, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The department's public integrity section is looking into whether Zinke lied to the Interior Inspector General's Office, which was looking into various inquiries having to do with Zinke.

Upon his departure, the inspector general was investigating a land deal Zinke entered into with the chairman of oil services company Haliburton, as well as a decision the Interior made to reject signing off on a proposal from two tribes to run a commercial casino off reservation land in Connecticut.

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It was first reported in October that the inspector general referred a case on Zinke to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ, which typically does not discuss ongoing investigations, has not announced which case is under investigation. The Post reported that it was unclear what lie Zinke is being investigated, but sources said it was not about the land deal he struck.

An Interior spokesperson refused to comment citing the government shutdown. Zinke's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Zinke submitted his resignation in December on the heels of the various investigations. In a statement he released on Twitter, Zinke blamed the media — and expensive legal fees — for his reason to leave Washington.

“After 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations,” he wrote.

Interior’s inspector general in October found Zinke’s wife, Lola, had inappropriately traveled on work business with her husband on the taxpayer’s dime.

The news of the DOJ referral surfaced after The Hill reported in October that a Department of Housing and Urban Development political appointee was tapped to replace Interior’s acting inspector general. The agency later walked back the appointment of Suzanne Tufts to the spot, arguing that the announcement made by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump launches effort to boost support among black voters Zoning is not the answer to all our housing problems Freer housing is 'fairer housing' — HUD should tie funding to looser zoning MORE was done in error.

Tufts resigned soon after.

Updated at 2:03 p.m.