Congress

Senate confirms ex-lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead Interior

Key Points
  • The Senate voted 56-41 to approve Bernhardt's nomination to oversee the country's public lands and resources.
  • He succeeds Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January amid a series of ethics investigations.
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

The Senate has confirmed acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the department on a permanent basis, despite complaints by Democrats that the former oil and gas lobbyist used his federal position to benefit former industry clients.

The Senate voted 56-41 to approve Bernhardt's nomination to oversee the country's public lands and resources. He succeeds Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January amid a series of ethics investigations.

Bernhardt represented energy and agricultural industries until President Donald Trump picked him in April 2017 to be deputy secretary.

Bernhardt says he's complied with all ethics laws and rules. But Democrats and environmental groups accuse him of using his federal post to shape regulations and legislation in favour of oil and gas interests and other former clients.

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Key Points
  • Gregory Craig, who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama, is indicted on charges of lying and hiding information related to his foreign lobbying work for Ukraine.
  • Craig, a 74-year-old lawyer based in Washington, faces up to five years in prison for each of the two counts.
  • The charges reportedly stem from the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which came to a formal end last month.