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White House intensifies search for new Interior secretary and Utah’s Rob Bishop is a focus

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rob Bishop, Representative for Utah's 1st Congressional District delivers his re-election speech at the Utah Republican Nominating Convention Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the Maverik Center.

Washington • Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, remains on a very short list of possible nominees to take over as secretary of the Interior Department, a new report says citing White House officials.

Bloomberg News said Thursday that the White House is focused on Bishop and acting secretary David Bernhardt to take over for Ryan Zinke, who resigned from the department amid several controversies and is now the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

Bishop had been previously mentioned, along with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, as possible replacements to head the department overseeing tens of millions of acres of public land.

The congressman from northern Utah, who has said he wouldn’t run again for the House, is now the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee after losing his chairmanship when Democrats took control of the chamber this month.

Bishop’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment but the congressman told Bloomberg he wasn’t sure the White House was focused on him for the job.

“I don’t know. If it is, I am not aware of it,” he said.

But he also didn’t deny to the news outlet that he was being considered, though he downplayed the possibility.

“Don’t bet your retirement system,” he said. “Keep it in the bank for now.”

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