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DEI Administration: Sen. Hawley Grills Secretary Deb Haaland Who Apparently Doesn’t Know Who’s in Charge of the Interior Department (VIDEO)

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland faced intense scrutiny from Senator Josh Hawley during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday.

The hearing, intended to review the President’s fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of the Interior, quickly turned into a pointed interrogation over allegations of secret meetings and corruption within the department.

Deb Haaland from New Mexico became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary after Joe Biden nominated her to lead the Interior Department.

On Thursday, Sen. Hawley questioned the Secretary about the department’s alleged meetings with undisclosed dark money groups, suggesting a hidden influence over department policies.

“Biden’s Interior department has *off the books* meeting with liberal dark money group funded by foreign billionaire, conceals it from the public, then does everything they want. In this case, canceling critical mining in the US. To benefit China,” Hawley wrote on X.

“In July of 2021, after you had come to office, members of the Wilderness Society, when they’re suing the department, write to your top deputy [former Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau] and ask for a meeting to keep and keep it off of his calendar,” Hawley revealed during the hearing.

“Here it is: July 14, 2021- Can we set up a meeting with these folks? July 19, 2021- They propose how they might calibrate this so it doesn’t look like they’re violating any of the court’s rules. And remarkably, it stays days completely off of everybody’s calendars.”

“We only know about it because FOIA requests were filed. And then, after they have these off-the-books meetings, their request is to cancel the mineral leasing rights in Minnesota in the superior national forest. This is a critical minerals mine. The society wants the mine shut down after they meet off the books. With your leadership, you do it. A few months later, you do it. You cancel the leases, and then you withdraw 225,000 acres of critical mining from production and leasing shortly after that.”

“Is it common practice at your department to meet with dark money groups off the books and conceal it from the public?” Hawley asked.

“Senator, thank you for the question. Of course, I can answer to… If you’re referring to our former Deputy Secretary, he’s no longer at the Department,” Haaland said.

Sen. Hawley: Who worked for you…

Sec. Haaland: He worked for the President. He was appointed by the President.

Sen. Hawley: He’s your Deputy Secretary. Are you the Secretary of the Department of Interior? I thought that’s why you were here.

Hawley probed deeper into the chain of command within the department, questioning Haaland’s control and responsibility. In a social media post, Hawley wrote, “Secretary Haaland apparently doesn’t know who’s in charge of the Interior Department. Hint: it’s supposed to be her.”

Haaland was struggling to answer simple questions.

Sen. Hawley: Are you the Secretary? Don’t look at her. Look at me. Are you the Secretary?

Sec. Haaland: I am.

Sen. Hawley: Do these people who are sitting here today answering most of your questions, do they work for you?  Do they report for you? You’re not in charge?

Sec. Haaland:  They work with me.

Sen. Hawley: They work with you? So you’re not in charge of the Department? Oh, my gosh. I thought you were in charge. I thought that’s why you were here.

Sec. Haaland: We work as a team…

Sen. Hawley: Oh, okay. So who’s in charge then?

Sec. Haaland: I provide the vision. I provide the overall direction…

Sen. Hawley: But you’re not in charge?

Sec. Haaland: It’s our mission…

Sen. Hawley: Do you take responsibility for what happens at the Department of the Interior?

Sec. Haaland: I take responsibility…

The senator also brought up Hansjorg Wyss, a Swiss billionaire who “is forging a conservation legacy across the western United States and having an outsized influence on federal policies,” E&E News reported.

The news outlet added, “Hansjorg Wyss and his nonprofit, the Wyss Foundation, have so far donated more than $350 million to acquire land and buoy dozens of green groups molding lands policy in Washington, D.C., and Western communities.”

Sen. Hawley: Do you take full responsibility for what happens at the Department of the Interior? Good. Then why are your leadership meeting with dark money groups and concealing it from the public? Why are they doing it off the books? How many times has this happened?

Sec. Haaland: Senator, this is the first time hearing of this. I don’t… I… My Deputy Secretary is no longer there, and I can’t answer to what he did when he was there.

Sen. Hawley: What did they get out of it, do you suppose? What do you suppose Hansjörg Wyss got out of you canceling the leases after they asked you to- In an off-the-books reading.

Sec. Haaland: I don’t know who this individual…

Sen. Hawley: Oh, sure. I mean, you don’t know. You’re not in charge. You’re not responsible. We have a corruption problem in this government, Madam Secretary, and frankly, we have a corruption problem in your department.

WATCH:

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