- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel (all times EDT):

6 p.m.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is strongly defending his use of private charter flights for government business, calling criticism of his travel “complete and utter bull–” that’s based on politics.

Zinke is defending himself over reports that he took at least three private flights costing taxpayers a total of $20,000 since taking office in March.

Zinke says his travel is “legal, ethical. All the trips went through absolute due diligence.”

Zinke spoke to reporters Wednesday following a boat tour at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia. He says that in his job, everything he does “goes through absolute legal review.”

He says previous Interior secretaries spent even more money on private travel, adding: “I wish you’d publish that. Because I can tell you, they’re in the millions.”


11:45 a.m.

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee have asked the Interior Department to provide documents on use of private charter flights for government business by the past three Interior secretaries, including two who served under President Barack Obama.

Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas say they are seeking the information following news reports that Trump administration officials, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, used non-commercial flights costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Bishop chairs the Natural Resources panel, while Westerman leads an oversight and investigations subcommittee.

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