Embattled Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke is stepping down

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Embattled Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke is stepping down

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is stepping down, President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Trump wrote that Zinke would be leaving the administration at the end of the year after a two-year stint in the White House and that he would be naming a replacement next week.

The embattled secretary’s departure comes amid the pressure of numerous ethics probes into a series of questionable expenditures, including reportedly spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds for a government helicopter ride to arrive on time for a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence. Another revolved around a lucrative real-estate deal in his Montana hometown that involved oil giant Halliburton, a company the Interior Department regulates.

Zinke has previously had similar issues related to his use of government funds. While on official military orders in the late 1990s, he made some restoration work on a childhood home and was eventually forced to repay some unauthorized expenses to the Navy, Outside magazine previously reported.

Read more: Top Trump official launches extraordinary personal attack on the Democrat set to be in charge of investigating him: ‘It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle’

Zinke was previously reported to be considering a departure for a job opportunity with Fox News as a contributor.

Both Fox News and the Interior Department denied that talks had taken place. One Interior Department official told Business Insider that the report was “completely fabricated,” while a Fox News spokesperson said that “no one at Fox News has spoken to Zinke about a contributor role.”

Zinke is the second major administration personnel departure in a week, following White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure and the reported struggle to replace him before Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, was tapped.

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