In the massive turnover factory that the Trump administration has turned into — hundreds of staffers, aides, officials, and attorneys have either quit or been fired since Trump’s 2017 inauguration — it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who’s who and which department they came from. But even with actual Cabinet members being forced to resign, along with communications directors, chiefs of staff, and other high-ranking members of Team Trump, no department has come under as much scrutiny as the Department of the Interior.
Now the Washington Post is reporting that six employees of the department are under investigation for possible ethics violations.
That’s not a huge surprise, considering they were mostly hired by Ryan Zinke, the disgraced former Interior Secretary who, despite still insisting he is innocent, was forced to step down among investigations of dozens of violations, abuses of power, theft of taxpayer money, and illegal lobbying.
Anyone suspected of that much illicit behavior, if you think about it, actually has to surround themselves with similarly unethical people who will at the very least keep their mouths shut, in order to even remotely believe they’ll get away with their crimes.
Immediately, Zinke’s replacement, David Bernhardt, came under investigation for offenses much like his former boss — Bernhardt was Zinke’s Deputy Secretary before taking over his job. But like the rest of the suspects that the Post is reporting on, Bernhardt is suspected of maintaining ties with the agencies that employed him — agencies whose activities would be regulated under the purview of the Interior Department — long after he joined the Department.
“Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn and three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs” are under investigation for similar offenses, according to the WaPo report.
Domenech, of course, is the father of Ben Domenech, the founder and publisher of right-wing outlet The Federalist, one of the top Trump apologist publications in circulation.
Somewhat more interestingly, that makes Domenech the father-in-law of Meghan McCain, Ben’s wife. Meghan is the daughter of former Arizona Senator John McCain and a panelist on the daytime talk show “The View.”
The Post notes that “Domenech, the highest-ranking official named in the complaint, continued to interact with the conservative think tank that used to employ him before he joined Interior.”
That’s the behavior at the heart of the complaints against all of the subjects under investigation, and it’s been a central theme of the entire Trump administration.
Featured image is a screen capture.