Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it is "laughable" that he threatened Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in a phone call last week after a vote on Obamacare repeal.
"The moon has been characterized as a threat, too, so I think it's laughable," Zinke told reporters Sunday in his first comments after reports characterized the phone call as threatening.
Zinke made the statement Sunday in talking to reporters while on a tour of national monuments in the West. He refuted claims that he suggested his agency would make it difficult for Alaska because of Murkowski's no vote on a procedural measure to begin debate on a bill to partially repeal and replace the Obamacare.
Zinke spoke to Murkowski and fellow Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, by phone last Wednesday. Sullivan later characterized the call as "troubling." By Thursday, top House Democrats had formally asked the Interior Department's inspector general to investigate the reported phone calls and the possibility that Zinke had broken the law.
Murkowski said only that Zinke had told her that President Trump was not pleased with her vote. The vote to begin debate passed 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.
"I talk to Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Sullivan all the time," Zinke said, according to 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."