Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general


President TrumpDonald John TrumpAnalyst says Trump’s base will support him if he backs off wall funding demand ‘Green Book’ writer apologizes for Islamophobic tweet: ‘I will do better’ Poll finds Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent amid shutdown MORE has tapped Commerce Department inspector Mark Greenblatt to be the new inspector general of the Department of the Interior.

Greenblatt, who is currently the assistant inspector general for investigations at Commerce, will replace Mary Kendall, who has served as Interior’s acting inspector general since 2009.

The longtime inspector and former New York litigator would enter a position in the Trump administration that was marred in controversy last year.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonDOJ probing whether Zinke lied to Interior investigators: report Ex-Trump family aide pushed for White House liaison’s firing: report Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces MORE mistakenly announced in October that Suzanne Tufts, a senior HUD official, would assume the top Interior oversight role.

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Democrats and watchdog advocates raised objections that Tufts, a political appointee who worked for Trump’s electoral campaign, would be conflicted as a watchdog.

An Interior spokesperson said at the time that Tufts was referred to the agency by the White House as a potential candidate for a position in the IG office but that “at the end of the day, she was not offered a job at Interior.”

The confusion came as then-Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeGrijalva backs Bishop over current acting Interior Secretary Dems question legality of park fees during shutdown House panel to ‘demand answers’ on Interior’s move to use visitor fees to keep parks open MORE faced a string of probes from Interior’s inspector general, including involving his wife’s travel and reports he negotiated a business deal involving the former chairman of oil service company Halliburton Co.

Shortly after the controversy, Tufts resigned from her position in HUD.

Greenblatt, who will still need to be confirmed by the Senate, would become the top watchdog overseeing the Department of Interior.

His nomination also comes as Trump has yet to select a replacement for Zinke, his first Interior secretary who resigned in December. 

The White House said Friday that Greenblatt has more than 15 years of oversight experience at the Commerce Department IG office and with the Justice Department’s top watchdog.

He previously clerked for U.S. District Judge Anita Brody and worked as chief counsel for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. 

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