ETHICS/INTERIOR/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE/RYAN ZINKE: “The recalcitrant senator kept crossing up the inexperienced new president on big-ticket legislation even though they represented the same party.
Frustrated and angry, the White House fought back, threatening retaliation both petty and portentous, eyeing federal jobs and programs in the state of the rebellious lawmaker to force obedience.
While this may sound like the current situation between President Trump and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, over her refusal to back the party line on health care, it was actually 1993. The senator was Richard Shelby, then a Democrat of Alabama, and the president was Bill Clinton as he began his first term and found the conservative Mr. Shelby to be a real irritant…
Now, the Trump administration has been under scrutiny for its actions toward Senators Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, also a Republican of Alaska, after Mr. Sullivan let it be known last week that he got what he perceived to be a threatening phone call from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke after Ms. Murkowski’s opposition to advancing a Republican health care proposal.
Mr. Sullivan told The Alaska Dispatch News that Mr. Zinke, whose department controls considerable resources in Alaska, had phoned both senators to let them know the state’s relationship with the Trump administration had been put in jeopardy by Ms. Murkowski’s vote. Howls of outrage followed, along with accusations of White House extortion.
On Sunday [7-30-17], Mr. Zinke, a former congressman from Montana, addressed the issue with reporters during an official stop in Nevada and called the accusation that he had threatened the lawmakers ‘laughable.’
Whether the phone calls were misinterpreted or not, it was certainly a ham-handed effort. Every decision the administration now makes in regard to Alaska will be interpreted through the lens of the health care dispute and seen as some kind of punishment of innocent residents if the state suffers.
Not to mention the fact that Mr. Zinke was put in the position of challenging a lawmaker who oversees his budget and policy programs. Ms. Murkowski is the chairwoman of both the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Interior Department. She arguably has more control over some aspects of the agency than the secretary has.”

-Carl Hulse, “Lesson for Trump: Hardball Against Senators Is a Game He Can Lose,” The New York Times online, Aug. 1, 2017