Zinke: Reports I Threatened Senators Over Repeal Vote Are ‘Laughable’

Interior Secretary-designate, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL who just won his second term in Congress, was an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump and, like his prospective boss, has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
July 31, 2017 11:15 a.m.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Sunday brushed off reports that he issued threats to the senators representing Alaska ahead of a vote on Obamacare repeal, saying that such a characterization of his calls with the senators is laughable.

“I talk to Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Sullivan all the time,” Zinke said at a press conference when first asked about his phone calls with the senators, as quoted by E&E News. “A lot’s been said about a lot of things. But I talk to them all the time. We get along well.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) told the Alaska Dispatch News last week that Zinke called him and indicated opposition to Obamacare repeal could prompt the Trump administration to retaliate against Alaska when it comes to energy policy. Sullivan said that Zinke also spoke with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Murkowski characterized the phone call differently, later telling reporters that Zinke had relayed to her that President Donald Trump was not happy with her vote against proceeding to an Obamacare repeal vote.

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During the Sunday press conference, Zinke was asked if he issued a threat to Murkowski and Sullivan.

“The moon has been characterized as a threat, too, so I think it’s laughable,” he replied, according to E&E News.

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