On Thursday, Department of the Interior's secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted a picture of him and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) drinking Alaskan beers. Clearly, the image is a sign of a truce between the two, but an investigation concerning Zinke's threatening phone calls has started anyway.

After Zinke reportedly made threatening phone calls to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska last week, Democrats vowed to retaliate.

It was reported that last Wednesday, both Senators got a phone call from Zinke after Murkowski voted no against the "skinny repeal" law which was secretly intended to replace Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Zinke called Sen. Sullivan after he made his threatening call to Sen. Murkowski to not only inform him of the discussion but to make the same threat. That threat being that the administration would pull federal support from energy projects in Alaska.

Democrats go to defend Republican senator

Sullivan said that the message he got from the call was "troubling". But Murkowski downplayed the severity of the threat to the press, saying that the discussion was "difficult" at the most, saying that calling it a "threat" was inappropriate.

Sen. Murkowski reportedly followed the incident by delaying confirmation hearings for open positions in the Department of the Interior. With Democrats being the only one of the two parties making a bipartisan gesture in support of the back-to-normal legislation, congressional Democrats appear to be organizing to go after Zinke on behalf of a lawmaker outside of their own party.

Prior to President Trump being in office, there had been reports of Trump supporters and surrogates threatening other lawmakers for not supporting him as a candidate. Donald Trump's style of intimidation and bullying has continued well into his presidency with frequent reports of the administration going after lawmakers in the Hill.

A conservation group called the Western Values Project filed a Freedom of Information Request to get documents of the calls Zinke made to Murkowski. The group's request also applies to getting details on other calls members of Trump's administration has made to other lawmakers in order to force Trump's agenda on them.

Ready to retaliate against Zinke

The group said that if they did not get that information before the "legal window" closes, that they were going to sue the department to obtain requested documents. The view from those taking action is that the threatening calls against Murkowski and Sullivan are the equivalent of blackmail. If the administration is looking to withdraw funds from those projects because Alaska's senators voted against Republican health care reform then to many, it seems that the administration might have gone too far.

Previous attacks on lawmakers

Over the past few months, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was targeted by the administration via an attack ad by a Super PAC that supports Trump. The ad was released when Heller voted against the now dead Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) that was being pushed by Senate Republicans. After the ad was released, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators reached out to the White House condemning the ad saying it was stupid. According to a spokesman for the Democrats on the Hill, Democrats from the House Natural Resources Committee intend to push for an investigation.

It's been reported that the investigation will be conducted by the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Mary Kendall.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ.) is a ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee and has said that Zinke's threats were the kind of thing you see the Kremlin do, not a presidential administration. Another incident that many felt was blackmail conducted by the Trump White House was with President Trump's attack against MSNBC's Morning Joe, saying that they would publish a revealing story via the National Enquirer if the hosts didn't apologize to the President. Kendall sent a letter to two House Democrats saying that they were starting a preliminary investigation on Zinke.