Prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury in their investigation into whether former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to federal officials regarding a casino deal, The Washington Post reports. Zinke reportedly decided not to allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a casino in Connecticut, and the tribes allege that Zinke received political pressure from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) and then-Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) in his decision-making process. Amodei and Heller reportedly have received contributions from MGM Resorts International, which had a casino about 12 miles away from the location of the proposed Indian tribes’ casino. According to the Post, the allegation of improper influence on Zinke prompted an inspector general investigation last year—which came to conclude that Zinke had lied to federal officials. The IG’s office then referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Grand jury witnesses told the newspaper that prosecutors have asked whether anyone influenced Zinke’s decision to not approve the tribes’ casino and whether Zinke received any “advice” during that time. The DOJ and Interior Department reportedly declined to comment. Zinke did not respond to requests for comment, and has not yet reportedly been called to appear before the grand jury.