Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be leaving the administration at year's end, and in his resignation letter, obtained by the AP, he faults "vicious and politically motivated attacks" against him for his exit. They've "created an unfortunate distraction" in fulfilling the agency's mission, he continued. Zinke's resignation letter, obtained from a Zinke aide on Saturday, cites what he calls "meritless and false claims" and says that "to some, truth no longer matters." The letter, dated Saturday, said Zinke's last day would be Jan. 2. It was not clear whether Zinke had already submitted the letter when Trump tweeted news of his departure.
Zinke, 57, played a leading part in Trump's efforts to roll back federal environmental regulations and promote domestic energy development. He had remained an ardent promoter of both missions despite growing talk that he had lost Trump's favor. Trump never established a deep personal connection with Zinke but appreciated how he stood tall against criticisms from environmental groups as he worked to roll back protections. But the White House concluded in recent weeks that Zinke was likely the Cabinet member most vulnerable to investigations led by newly empowered Democrats in Congress, according to an administration official not authorized to publicly discuss personnel matters who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Read more on the ethics probes dogging Zinke here.)