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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An ongoing investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been referred to the Justice Department by the agency's Office of Inspector General, the Washington Post reports, citing two individuals familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: This referral could result in the DOJ opening up a criminal investigation into Zinke's actions. Stephen Ryan, counsel to Secretary Zinke, told Axios that Zinke "has not been contacted or notified of any DOJ investigation or Inspector General referral. It is disappointing that unsubstantiated and anonymous sources have described an IG office referral to members of the media, as this violates DOJ and IG policy direction. The Secretary has done nothing wrong."

The details: The Inspector General's office is currently conducting at least three investigations linked to Zinke, including a real estate deal that could have violated conflict of interest laws and his decision to block tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut. The Post said both its sources "did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department."

What to watch: Axios' Amy Harder notes that, as these controversies pile up, Zinke will be appropriately compared to Scott Pruitt, who resigned as EPA administrator earlier this year under a cloud of ethical scandals.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the quote by Zinke's counsel.

Go deeper

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

Screenshot: Fox News

President Trump has delivered a farewell speech and departed Washington for the last time on Air Force One, kicking off the day that will culminate with President-elect Joe Biden taking office.

What's next: The inaugural celebration for young Americans is being livestreamed, starting at 10am.

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump departs on final Air Force One flight

President Trump and his family took off on Air Force One at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the final time en route to Florida.

The big picture: Trump's final hours as president were punctuated by his decisions to snub his successor's inauguration and grant pardons to many of his allies who have been swept up in corruption scandals.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen said all the right things to reassure the markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Treasury Secretary nominee and former Fed chair Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday showed markets just what they can expect from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden: more of what they got under President Trump — at least for now.

What it means: Investors and big companies reaped the benefits of ultralow U.S. interest rates and low taxes for most of Trump's term as well as significant increases in government spending, even before the coronavirus pandemic.