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Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke refuses to provide documentation in taxpayer funded travel investigation: inspector

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The U.S. Interior Department has failed to provide documentation needed for an internal probe of Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travels, the department’s inspector general said on Thursday.

“Our investigation has been delayed by absent, or incomplete documentation for several pertinent trips,” Mary Kendall, the department’s deputy inspector general, said in a letter sent this week to David Bernhardt, the department’s deputy secretary. The letter was published on the department’s web site.

The inspector general launched an investigation of Zinke’s travels after reports emerged in September that he had used a private plane owned by oil executives. The probe was launched after the inspector general received numerous complaints about Zinke’s travels, including the use of three chartered flights.

One of those flights, taken in June from Las Vegas to near Zinke’s hometown in Montana, cost taxpayers over $12,000, according to a Washington Post report.

Kendall’s letter said her office had received full cooperation from all employees it had contacted, but that “we have found the documentation and adherence to departmental travel policies deficient and without proper management oversight and accountability.”

It said many authorizations and vouchers required for Zinke’s travel have yet to be completed and processed. It requested documentation no later than Dec. 11 for the secretary and his wife, Lolita Zinke, when she accompanied him on government travel.

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The letter also complained that the department’s travel review process failed to include proper documentation and accountability.

The Interior Department had no comment, but referred to a letter, also published on the web site, from Bernhardt responding to Kendall.

In a speech at conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation in September, Zinke denied inappropriate travel and said his travels were approved by “career employees” of the Interior Department’s ethics office. He called reports about his use of chartered private flights “a little B.S.”

Bernhardt said in his letter that additional documents for the probe had been sent to the inspector general’s office earlier in the month. He said the department will work to provide available documentation for Zinke’s travel and said he appreciated recommendations by Kendall on travel procedures for the secretary’s immediate office.

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Bernhardt also said that Zinke and he had “inherited an organizational and operational mess” from the Obama administration. He said department travel procedures were the same under Obama.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have also come under scrutiny over reports of expensive private plane use.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Ocasio-Cortez dunks on Liz Cheney again for using Nazi language to defend Trump: ‘Enjoy defending concentration camps’

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Dick Cheney's daughter continued to receive ferocious backlash after she falsely claimed that Donald Trump's tent cities are not "concentration camps."

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) demanded Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) learn history -- while revealing she knew little -- during a Twitter outburst.

“The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are. … ‘Never Again’ means something ... we need to do something about it," Ocasio-Cortez noted.

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Right-wing radio show ratings tank as host undermines Trump’s ‘promises made, promises kept’ re-election slogan

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The fact Donald Trump's base sticks with him no matter what he does is negatively impacting a conservative radio host attempting to hold the president accountable for his campaign promises.

Michael Alan Weiner, who goes by the stage name Michael Savage, hosts the "Savage Nation" radio show.

The host once praised Trump as the "Winston Churchill of our time" has been criticizing the president recently, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"Now Mr. Savage is an outlier once again, dismayed more each day as the budget deficit continues to swell, thousands of new migrants are apprehended at the border, and the wall Mr. Trump promised to erect and make Mexico pay for remains unbuilt," The Times explained.

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LISTEN: Here’s the creepy broadcast at Trump’s rally telling supporters the right way to deal with protesters

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida.

Those who entered the venue were treated to a pleasant female voice booming out instructions to protestors — and a creepy warning.

"While we all have the rights to free speech, this is a private event paid for and hosted by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and you came to hear the president," said the voice. "To accommodate the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, while ensuring an orderly rally, we have provided a secure area outside the venue for all protesters, and we ask anyone wishing to demonstrate to please exit to that secure area."

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