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New records put Trump’s interior chief under fresh scrutiny over casino row

The new interior secretary, David Bernhardt, met with a lawyer for a Native American tribe that is linked to the political scandal haunting Bernhardt’s predecessor, according to internal agency records. In early April 2018, Bernhardt sat down with Marc Kasowitz, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump whose firm was representing the Schaghticoke tribal nation. The Schaghticokes opposed the casino. An interior department spokeswoman confirmed the meeting had happened but said it was about reinstating the tribe’s federal recognition. Asked if Bernhardt was involved in the casino decision, the interior department spokeswoman, Faith Vander Voort, said: “Mr Bernhardt had absolutely nothing to do with it. Absolutely nothing.” She said the omission of the meeting between Bernhardt and Kasowitz from earlier calendars had been “a technical error”. MGM was a client of the lobbying firm where Bernhardt worked before joining the Trump administration, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Records showed Bernhardt lobbying for Access Industries, although those records have been amended. The interior department has said that Bernhardt did not work for Access Industries. He met with her in October 2017, around the same time she sent a letter to Zinke urging him to decline the application.
Shame Tempers Shopping For Friendlier Inspector General For Ryan Zinke | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Interior Secretary’s Departure

The Story: President Donald Trump announced, in a tweet on the morning of December 15,...
Interior Secretary Zinke leaving Trump administration at end of year

Interior Secretary Zinke leaving Trump administration at end of year

President Donald Trump announced that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart from his administration at the end of the year. #CNN #News
Shame Tempers Shopping For Friendlier Inspector General For Ryan Zinke | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Shame Tempers Shopping For Friendlier Inspector General For Ryan Zinke | Rachel Maddow |...

Rachel Maddow reports on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's sketchy ethics and how a plan to replace the inspector general investigating Zinke with someone more sympathetic was exposed and abruptly reversed. » Subscribe to MSNBC: About: MSNBC is the premier…

US interior secretary’s school friend blocking climate research, scientists say

Prominent US climate scientists have told the Guardian that the Trump administration is holding up research funding as their projects undergo an unprecedented political review by the high-school football teammate of the US interior secretary. Don't blame wildfires on climate change – it's environmentalists' fault, says Zinke Read more Steve Howke, one of Zinke’s high-school football teammates, oversees this review. Until Zinke appointed him as an interior department senior adviser to the acting assistant secretary of policy, management and budget, Howke had spent his entire career working in credit unions. The department, which manages a significant portion of the US landmass, has attributed the slower pace of funding approval to efforts to reduce “waste, fraud and abuse”. One of the largest programs affected is the Climate Adaptation Science Centers, a network of eight regionally focused research centers located at “host” universities across the country. “[Our stakeholders] want answers sooner rather than later, especially if they’re undergoing severe drought conditions right now or they just had extensive flooding.” Every administration brings new priorities to the cabinet departments, but in agencies that fund science, this is usually reflected in the subject areas of calls for proposals. “We are not used to an additional political review on top of that,” McPherson said. Many scientists affiliated with the climate adaptation centers concurred. “My concern is, are they creating an environment that will prevent us from being successful as an excuse then to not fund us in the future?” Dennis Ojima, a professor of ecosystem science and sustainability at Colorado State University who heads the North Central Climate Adaptation Center, complained of months-long delays. “For teams that are trying to initiate new research it’s difficult to get the graduate students and postdocs lined up.” Neither Howke nor the interior department responded to a request for comment.
Halliburton Makes Ryan Zinke's Beer Dream Come True | All In | MSNBC

Halliburton Makes Ryan Zinke’s Beer Dream Come True | All In | MSNBC

The Interior Department's inspector general is investigating whether Zinke colluded to have Halliburton's chairman build him the microbrewery he's always wanted in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. » Subscribe to MSNBC: About: MSNBC is the premier destination for in-depth…

Reassigned Interior Employees Blame Politics, Climate Work

Getty Images Sixteen senior employees at the U.S. Department of Interior reassigned to new duties under President Donald Trump's administration viewed their moves as political retribution or punishment for their work on climate change, energy or conservation, according to the results of an internal investigation released Wednesday. However, investigators said they were unable to determine if anything illegal occurred because the agency leaders did not document their rationale for the reassignments. The findings by the Office of Inspector General follow a backlash over new jobs assigned to almost three dozen senior employees in the months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took office last year. Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said agency officials acted within their legal authority when making reassignments. She added the department already has adopted some of the inspector general's recommendations aimed at increasing transparency and shielding the process from political interference. Approximately 225 Interior personnel are considered senior employees, known formally as the Senior Executive Service. Climate scientist Joel Clement, who resigned and filed a whistleblower complaint following his reassignment to an accounting office, said the report "sends up a red flag" that Congress should investigate. Clement's attorney, Katherine Atkinson, said his case and that of a second Interior employee she represents are under investigation by the government' Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal employees from reprisal for whistleblowing. The inspector general's investigation included interviews with 31 senior employees who faced reassignment under Zinke. Eight of those employees viewed their moves positively.

406 Politics: Des Moines Register says polling firm testing presidential waters for Ryan Zinke

According to an opinion column in the Des Moines Register, a polling firm is testing U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's name recognition among Republican voters in Iowa. The piece, published Tuesday by Iowa View contributor Steve Sherman, says the calls could be related to Zinke testing the waters for a 2024 presidential run. The calls could indicate the 2024 "White House sweepstakes has started very early, and that Zinke is known in D.C. as somebody with White House ambitions," Sherman wrote. Before becoming Interior Secretary, Zinke represented Montana in the U.S. House from 2015 to when he resigned the seat to take the Interior job in 2017, shortly after winning re-election. He also served in the state Senate. “We’re looking ahead trying to see who the heir apparent is after Trump. If you fundamentally believe the Republican Party has changed and Trump is not an anomaly, someone like Ryan Zinke could be that person. Based on our polling he’s extremely popular among Republican voters in Iowa. The interior secretary is someone to watch,” Gravis told Sherman.

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Frosty Flake

Canada and Mexico are exempted from the tariffs, and other countries will reportedly be invited to negotiate exclusions from the measures. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake criticized the move in a statement, and pledged to draft and introduce legislation to nullify the tariffs. Trump told reporters that South Korea will be making a “major statement” about North Korea at 7 p.m. The Interior Department reportedly spent nearly $139,000 to upgrade doors in Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. Today on The Atlantic One Right to Rule Them All? : Garrett Epps breaks down the text of the Second Amendment and concludes that it doesn’t guarantee “an unlimited individual right to bear any kind and number of weapons by anyone.” Colorless and Deadly: On Sunday, an ex-Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in Britain by a nerve agent. Here’s how the gas works. (Sarah Zhang) We Can’t Handle the Truth: A new MIT study shows that, by every metric, falsehoods and fake news consistently reach more people than real news on Twitter. (Robinson Meyer) Does Welfare Make People Lazy? : Nope.
Trump's Interior Department explains $139,000 doorsvideo

Trump’s Interior Department explains $139,000 doors

The doors to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's office are getting a nearly $139,000 upgrade. The Interior Department confirmed the project Thursday, saying it is both necessary to replace old doors that are in "disrepair" and attributing the high cost to…