Interior secretary responds to demand he resign by calling top Democrat on Natural Resources a drinker

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday morning labeled as a drunk the man who is expected to be his chief f...

Posted: Dec 1, 2018 2:06 PM
Updated: Dec 1, 2018 2:06 PM

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday morning labeled as a drunk the man who is expected to be his chief foe on Capitol Hill, an attack that echoes President Donald Trump's own name calling style and sets the stage for tense showdowns on Capitol Hill when Democrats take the House in January.

Zinke's tweet came in response to top Natural Resources Committee Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva calling on the interior secretary to resign in a USA Today op-ed, citing Interior Department inspector general investigations, one of which was referred to the Justice Department.

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In his response, Zinke did not address Grijalva's allegations but instead said that it was "hard for (Grijalva) to think straight from the bottom of the bottle."

"This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior. He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for the hush money and tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations," Zinke wrote in the tweet.

After Zinke's tweet, Grijalva responded through a statement from his office: "The American people know who I'm here to serve, and they know in whose interests I'm acting. They don't know the same about Secretary Zinke."

The op-ed and the tweet underscore the tense relationships expected to develop as Democrats take control of the House in January and launch a series of investigations into the Trump administration.

Grijalva has long expressed concerns about Zinke, but in the minority had few tools at his disposal to call the secretary before the committee or demand answers to questions he had about national monuments, endangered species for ethical questions into the secretary. That is all about to change.

In his op-ed, Grijalva called on Zinke to resign saying "I take no pleasure in calling for this step, and I have resisted it even as questions have grown about Zinke's ethical and managerial failings."

"Unfortunately his conduct in office and President Donald Trump's neglect in setting ethical standards for his own Cabinet have made it unavoidable," he said.

In responding to the op-ed, Zinke's attack on Grijalva's character did not include specifics, but the Washington Times reported that in 2015, Grijalva reached a settlement with a woman in his office to pay $48,000 after, according to the Times, the woman complained that Grijalva was often under the influence of alcohol, creating a hostile work environment. Grijalva vehemently denied that he drank on the job or fostered any kind of hostile work environment. He said in an op-ed for Tuscon.com that said "I do not work while drunk and have never had a hostile workplace environment."

However, he said "agreeing to a severance package made it possible for the Committee to move forward with its operations as quickly as possible and for the former employee to quickly begin seeking new opportunities."

He noted that under a non-disclosure agreement he could not elaborate on the complaint.

Expected to chair natural resources, Grijalva said he planned to continue digging into Zinke.

"Should I chair the committee in January, as I hope to do, those questions will only intensify as part of my and my colleagues' legitimate oversight duties. If Mr. Zinke stays, stonewalling in the belief that a cabinet secretary answers only to Trump would be a mistake," Grijalva wrote in the op-ed.

The inspector general's office at the Department of Interior still has two active investigations into Zinke surrounding whether or not the Department of Interior improperly blocked a casino deal in Connecticut and into conversations Zinke had with then-Halliburton Chairman David Lesar about a development project back in Zinke's hometown of Whitefish Montana.

In October, CNN reported that the inspector general's office had referred Zinke for investigation at the Justice Department and that the Department of Justice was investigating the interior secretary.

Zinke said he has not been contacted by the Justice Department.

"They haven't talked to me. It will be the same thing as all the other investigations. I follow all rules, procedures, regulations and most importantly the law. This is another politically driven investigation that has no merit," Zinke told CNN.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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