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Trump nominates acting Interior secretary for permanent role

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U.S. President Donald Trump and acting U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt arrive to place a wreath at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump and acting U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt arrive to place a wreath at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019.

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that David Bernhardt will be nominated to become Secretary of the Interior.

Bernhardt took over the role in an acting capacity following the resignation of Ryan Zinke.

Bernhardt, 49, expressed gratitude for his selection in a tweet.

“It’s a humbling privilege to be nominated to lead a Department whose mission I love, to accomplish the balanced, common sense vision of our President,” Bernhardt said on Twitter.

Zinke, 57, announced his departure amid scrutiny about his conduct in office. He faced multiple federal ethics probes into his travel habits and potential conflicts of interest during his tenure in Trump’s Cabinet.

Zinke has denied any wrongdoing.

His departure came just before Democrats took majority control of the House of Representatives, where the newly empowered party has vowed to pursue new investigations and revivify existing probes into various figures and features of Trump’s administration.

Bernhardt’s appointment to the No. 2 role at the Department of the Interior drew criticism from those who see red flags in his prior work as a partner at law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which represents clients that are potentially affected by Interior Department regulations.

Bernhardt will have to be confirmed by the Senate to get the top spot.

The White House described the Rifle, Colorado native as “an avid hunter and fisherman” when it announced that he had been tapped by Trump to become deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior.

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