Secretary Ryan Zinke. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Interior Department is likely to see less ethical controversy and smoother processes but little, if any, substantive policy shifts after Secretary Ryan Zinke steps down from his role.

Why it matters: Zinke’s various scandals, including one reportedly referred to the Justice Department, have begun to dominate headlines akin to what occurred with Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Upon Zinke's departure — just like when Pruitt leftyou will have an agency scarred by a tumultuous run but nonetheless on the same policy track.

What’s next: Trump said he would announce a new interior secretary next week. In the meantime and until any nominee can get confirmed by the Senate, David Bernhardt, deputy secretary at the department since summer 2017, will likely be the acting secretary. Bernhardt is a long-time Washington lobbyist and government official. He worked in the Interior Department under President George W. Bush and has since lobbied on behalf of several companies and organizations with business at Interior now.

  • “Zinke is far less experienced in terms of how Washington works, how Interior works,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “David takes Zinke’s impulses and then figures out to make policy out of them.”

Between the lines: Axios' Ben Geman explains that Zinke is an enthusiastic point person for White House efforts to open more areas to energy development, and slash environmental rules and restrictions, notably shrinking two national monument areas in Utah.

  • However, some of the efforts, including the monument revisions, remain the subject of court battles, while other remains incomplete. For instance, Interior is only part way through the years-long process of opening Atlantic Coast and Alaskan offshore areas to oil-and-gas leasing.
  • And while regulators can expand access and ease rules, it’s ultimately market-driven forces that will guide industry decisions, and the level of interest in exploring for oil in frontier areas is unclear amid ample opportunities elsewhere.

Be smart: Zinke is to Bernhardt what Scott Pruitt was to Andrew Wheeler, current EPA Acting Administrator. The ousted politicians were flashier but ultimately less effective than their predecessors experienced and familiar with the Washington swamp.

  • “As acting Secretary of the Interior, I would look for Bernhardt to further dismantle restrictions around water and ease regulations involving drilling on federal lands,” said Dan Eberhart, CEO of oil services company Canary LLC. “I would also expect Bernhardt to value media coverage less. He’s more of a workhorse and less of a show horse.”

The other side: Environmentalists far less pleased with Interior’s direction nonetheless echoed the sentiment that things are unlikely to change. “The deputy secretary has been very involved in setting direction all along,” said Sarah Greenberger, a senior vice president at the Audubon Society and former Interior official under Obama.

The big picture: The Republican Party is publicly divided on a lot of issues, ranging from trade to immigration, but on energy and environmental policies, it’s largely in lockstep. That’s why, despite scandal-driven turnover in Trump’s top officials in these areas, actual policy hasn’t changed much. Expect the same at the Interior Department.

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Hiroshima mayor warns of rise of nationalism on 75th anniversary

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Hiroshima's Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday urged the international community to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and warned against an increase in "self-centered nationalism," per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: He said at a remembrance service on the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that the 1918 flu pandemic killed millions as countries fighting in World War I were unable to overcome the threat together, per DPR. "A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II," he added. The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki three days later contributed to the end of World War II, but tens of thousands of people died. At the service, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lamented nuclear weapons' "inhumanity," but he didn't mention Japan's wartime past, WashPost noted.

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LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

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LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games because of the action.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 18,752,917 — Total deaths: 706,761— Total recoveries — 11,308,298Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 4,821,296 — Total deaths: 158,249 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesFauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable."
  4. Business: America's next housing crisis.
  5. States: Virginia launches contact tracing app using specs from Apple and Google.
  6. Cities: L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings
  7. Politics: White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks.