President Donald Trump announced Saturday morning that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart from his administration at the end of the year.
This story by Sophie Tatum, Lauren Fox, and Gregory Wallace originally appeared in CNN.com.
“Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke 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 wrote in a tweet.
The President continued in a second tweet: “… The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week.”
The departure comes amid multiple ethics investigations into Zinke as well as a staff shake-up among Trump administration officials, including the President’s chief of staff. Trump announced Friday that his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, will become his acting chief of staff, replacing John Kelly, at the end of the year.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that administration officials said the White House had been pushing Zinke to resign for weeks and that he was told he had until year’s end to leave or he would be fired. Citing two people familiar with the discussion, The New York Times also reported that Kelly’s team had told Zinke that he might risk a potentially humiliating firing if he didn’t leave his post by the end of the year.
Some possible contenders for his position include Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who lost his re-election race, sources with knowledge of the situation said.
Zinke said in a statement on Saturday that he was proud of his work as interior secretary and called the allegations against him “false.”