Trump Interior Secretary Zinke Lied to Federal Investigators About Casino Case, Inspector General Report Says – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather forecast

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(CNN) – Former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his then-chief of staff repeatedly lied to federal investigators about conversations they had with lobbyists, a U.S. senator, and interior officials regarding the licensing of the development projects. two Indian tribes to build and operate a casino in New England, according to to a new report from the Inspector General of the Interior.

Ultimately, Inspector General Mark Greenblatt concluded that Zinke and his then-chief had failed in their “duty of candor” as federal public servants.

Zinke and his chief of staff “made statements to OIG investigators with the general intent to mislead them” and “presented an inaccurate version of the circumstances under which the DOI made key decisions,” wrote the IG in a report.

Zinke left his post in the Trump administration at the end of 2018, after multiple ethics inquiries into his conduct. Zinke is currently running for the seat in Montana’s 1st congressional district.

The IG report also says Zinke asked them to withhold their findings until after the 2022 midterm elections.

“In his comments, Secretary Zinke cited DOJ guidance and argued that we should delay the release of this report until after the November 2022 election in which he is seeking public office,” the report said.

The IG of the Interior referred the case to the US Department of Justice in 2018, but the Justice Department declined to proceed in the summer of 2021.

The report found that two New England tribes – the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan – applied for federal permits for a Connecticut casino, Zinke and his chief of staff met with lobbyists for a larger Nevada-based casino and a senator from nevadaater identified as former senator Dean Heller), which pushed them not to grant permits.

Although Zinke ultimately did not grant or deny the permits, IG inspectors discovered that he had lied to them about conversations he had had with lower-ranking Interior officials, as well as ‘by twisting his conversations with Heller.

“We have also concluded that Secretary Zinke knew that the statements described above were inaccurate or incomplete when he made them during his interviews with OIG investigators,” the report said.

A statement from Zinke’s attorney, Danny Onorato, denounced the inspector general’s investigation as “another political libel”, and said Zinke had told the IG that he was not subject to influence in the casino case because “he had no jurisdiction to act on the application.”

“On the eve of an election, the IG released a misleading and inaccurate report suggesting that Secretary Zinke lacked candor in his interview with IG officials,” Onorato said. “It’s wrong.”

While Greenblatt’s office first began looking into the New England Native American Tribes Casino Agreement, they eventually focused on potential wrongdoing on Zinke’s part.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva said in a statement that the report “is another entry in former Secretary Zinke’s long litany of lies and cover-ups” as Secretary of State. inside of Trump.

“The report calls it ‘lack of candor,’ but the plain language word is ‘lie,'” Grijalva said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Montana’s congressional seat count. There are two.

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