Monday, January 9, 2017

Cabinet confirmation hearings: "twere well It were done quickly"

That's the line from Macbeth.  It seems that the GOP, led by Mitch McConnell, will ram through confirmations without a full vetting of the cabinet nominees.  Here is the schedule from Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog), With clouds hanging overhead, GOP moves forward on Trump’s cabinet.

As for the schedule that GOP senators are so eager to launch, NBC News published this rundown earlier on the Senate hearings planned for the next few days:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions – Jan. 10-11
Homeland Security: John Kelly – Jan. 10-11
State: Rex Tillerson – Jan 11 (may go into Jan 12)
CIA: Mike Pompeo – Jan. 11
Education: Betsy DeVos – Jan. 11
Transportation: Elaine Chao – Jan. 11
Labor: Andrew Puzder – Jan. 12
Defense: James Mattis – Jan. 12

Remember that this rush to confirm without thorough vetting is "unprecedented."  Here's the story from the Washington Post, Ethics official warns against confirmations before reviews are complete.  

A top ethics official has warned that plans to confirm Donald Trump’s top Cabinet choices before background examinations are complete are unprecedented and have overwhelmed government investigators responsible for the reviews.

The concerns prompted Democrats on Saturday to call for delaying the confirmation process, but Republicans signaled they are unlikely to budge on the eve of a slew of hearings in the Senate.

Benen points out the hypocrisy in this rushed process.

About eight years ago, when the Democratic-led Senate was moving forward on President Obama’s cabinet nominees, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) laid out his standards that he expected all nominees to meet. They’re surprisingly relevant now.

There were eight benchmarks in total, but at the top of the list was McConnell’s insistence that senators have a chance to review the nominees’ FBI background check and the Office of Government Ethics’ vetting letter.

Senate Republicans, of course, are now in the majority, getting ready to advance on an incoming Republican administration’s cabinet, but McConnell’s standards from 2009 are no longer being applied. ... 

By scheduling so many hearings so close together, Republicans hope to prevent any one nominee from receiving too much attention.

It’s almost as if GOP officials were concerned about Americans getting a good look at Trump’s cabinet choices.

With good reason given the rampant conflicts of interest in the Trump family.  Here's what the Office of Government Ethics does.

The Office of Government Ethics conducts its reviews of cabinet nominees in part to look for potential conflicts of interest – a problem Donald Trump should be familiar with. If Trump’s transition office isn’t doing a through vetting of cabinet nominees, and the OGE isn’t done with its own reviews, Republican senators will soon vote to confirm powerful officials whose backgrounds have received limited and incomplete scrutiny.

That could be a source of embarrassment to the incoming administration. But shame is in short supply at the capitol these days. 

Macbeth was right in another way.  Only the "Vaulting ambition" of  dictatorial rule can explain why "twere well It were done quickly."

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