WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump tapped acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt Monday to formally head the Department.
I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior. David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2019
The move comes over a month after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stepped down from his position amid a cloud of ethics concerns.
Bernhardt, who was previously Zinke’s top deputy, is one of three acting secretaries in the president’s cabinet, a list that includes acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
Also within the president’s orbit are acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Environmental Protection Agency Director Andrew Wheeler.
Wheeler has been nominated as director, but has not yet been confirmed. Whitaker is expected to be replaced by nominee William Barr, who also is waiting to be confirmed.
Trump’s reliance on acting members of his team came into question over the weekend.
In a CBS interview that aired Sunday prior to the Superbowl, the president said that having acting secretaries “gives me more flexibility.”
“It’s easier to make moves when they’re acting,” Trump said.