Embattled Zinke defends legacy after leaving Trump Cabinet

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FILE – In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Vice President Mike Pence, left, waves as he is introduced to speak at the Department of Energy in Washington, as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke watches. As former U.S. Interior Secretary Zinke exits Washington amid a cloud of unresolved ethics investigations, he says he has lived up to the conservation ideals of Teddy Roosevelt and insists the myriad allegations against him will be proven untrue. Zinke said he quit President Donald Trump’s cabinet on his own terms, despite indications he was pressured by the White House to resign effective Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. | As former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke exits Washington amid a cloud of unresolved ethics investigations, he says he has lived up to the conservation ideals of Teddy Roosevelt and insists the myriad allegations against him will be proven untrue.

The former Montana congressman told The Associated Press that he quit President Donald Trump’s Cabinet on his own terms, despite indications he was pressured by the White House to resign.

His broad rollbacks of restrictions on oil and gas drilling brought a scathing backlash from environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers. But Zinke says the rollbacks mesh with Roosevelt’s view that conservation entails not just protection but also development of public lands

House Democrats plan to put Zinke’s tenure under the spotlight with oversight hearings beginning next month.