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Trump nominates David Bernhardt to replace Zinke as interior secretary


Bernhardt has been serving as acting interior secretary since December

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he was nominating acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead that department in a more permanent role.

Here's what we know

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned on Dec. 15. Zinke had been facing multiple investigations into potential ethics violations at the time of his departure.

Trump had announced in a tweet at the time that he would name Zinke's replacement at the end of the week. But while Bernhardt was named acting interior secretary, a permanent replacement was not named until now.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that Bernhardt would be stepping into that role full time.

"David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived," Trump wrote, "and we look forward to having his nomination fully confirmed!"

Bernhardt will still have to be confirmed by the Senate. This will include confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In addition to being acting interior secretary, Bernhardt was also deputy chief interior secretary under Zinke, a role for which he received Senate confirmation in 2017.

Bernhardt tweeted in response that it was "a humbling privilege to be nominated to lead a Department whose mission I love, to accomplish the balanced, common sense vision of our President."

Who is David Bernhardt?

Bernhardt is a former oil, gas, and agricultural lobbyist at the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. For ethical reasons, he has already recused himself from any decision that may involve former clients from his lobbyist days. However, environmental activists are still concerned that his past career means that he will give special treatment to fossil fuel companies.

"If I get a whiff of something coming my way that involves a client or a former client for my firm, I'm going to make that item run straight to the ethics office," he assured the Senate in 2017

As interior secretary, Bernhardt will be tasked with the administration of all federal lands, which make up about one-fifth of all land in the United States.

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