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Top Senate Democrat Says Trump’s Nominees Need ‘Thorough’ Vetting

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Top Senate Democrat Says Trump’s Nominees Need ‘Thorough’ Vetting

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer, decried what he called undue haste to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s nominations for various top posts, saying on Monday they needed more thorough vetting.

Hearings start on Tuesday for the Republican president-elect’s choices for senior administration posts, beginning with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, nominated to be attorney general, and retired General John Kelly, Trump’s pick for secretary of homeland security.

Schumer said Trump’s nominees, many of whom have extensive business backgrounds at companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Goldman Sachs, should be carefully scrutinized to be sure they avoid conflicts of interest.

“We’re not doing this for sport. Democrats feel very strongly that pushing for a thorough and thoughtful vetting process is the right thing to do,” Schumer said in a speech.

Republicans, who control the majority in the Senate, are presenting the Democratic objections as political grandstanding, saying they moved quickly eight years ago to confirm Democratic President Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks, approving seven the day he began his first term.

Schumer said some of Trump’s nominees have not completed a review process conducted by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday that every nominee with a hearing this week has turned in the required paperwork.

“Everybody will be properly vetted as they have been in the past,” said U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, speaking in New York after meeting with Trump on Monday. He said he hoped to confirm six or seven national security appointees by the time Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

Trump needs to keep the 52 Republicans in the 100-seat Senate on his side to secure the simple majority votes needed for confirmations.

One of the more contentious hearings could be over Rex Tillerson, nominated for secretary of state. Trump’s stated desire for warmer relations with Russia comes at a deeply sensitive moment, after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow used cyber hacking and other methods to try to tilt the U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Republicans including U.S. Senator John McCain and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, veterans in foreign policy and security issues, have signaled concerns about Tillerson’s ties to Russia during his tenure as the chief executive of Exxon Mobil. Transition officials expressed confidence that Tillerson would win the pair’s support.

Sessions is also likely to face a thorough grilling, with critics arguing he obstructed civil rights protections in the past.

Democrats are likely to question nominees for positions related to national security about Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and his pledge to temporarily suspend immigration from regions deemed to be exporting terrorism.

The Trump team has put the nominees through mock hearings that are standard practice ahead of such events. Questions have included the kind of everyday concerns that periodically upset nominees for high office, such as the price of a gallon of gas. Each mock-up has also included at least one disruptive pretend protester, a transition official said.

Transition officials say they believe they could pick up Democratic votes from senators facing 2018 re-election bids in states Trump won on Nov. 8, such as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Trump voiced optimism about the process on Monday, telling reporters at his office and residence in New York, “The confirmation is going great. I think they’ll all pass.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Emily Stephenson in Washington and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Howard Goller and Frances Kerry)

IMAGE: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks with reporters after the weekly Senate Democratic caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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24 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 9, 2017

    Requiring vetting goes without saying. I recommend also that they see a veterinarian and be tested for rabies and/or distemper.

    Reply
    1. 1standlastword January 9, 2017

      You realize that would lead to many and perhaps most being euthanized

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      2. plc97477 January 10, 2017

        You really know how to sweet talk don’t you. Love it!

  2. Lynda Groom January 9, 2017

    The republicans don’t give a damm what they believed back in 2009. Mitch wanted a full vetting of Obama’s choices, but this is now their turn and the same potential rules don’t apply; What a surprise…not!

    Reply
    1. itsfun January 10, 2017

      Didn’t the Republicans approve 7 of Obama’s choices on Obama’s first day in office?

      1. jmprint January 10, 2017

        You are required to fill out paper work and turn in documents, if you don’t do that, then you slow the process, which is what’s happening here.

        1. itsfun January 10, 2017

          What was my question again??

          1. jmprint January 10, 2017

            Obama’s choices had their papers in order to be vetted.

          2. itsfun January 10, 2017

            Who says the Trump choices don’t

          3. jmprint January 10, 2017

            The news said DeVoe was one of the one that had not completed all the paper work. Watch other news, Fox is not worthy of staying clueless.

          4. itsfun January 10, 2017

            She is only one of many, what about the others

          5. jmprint January 11, 2017

            Just read this: ” The Senate Commerce Committee said on Tuesday it was moving Ross’s hearing to Jan. 18 from Jan. 12 because Ross has not completed all of the necessary government paperwork.”

      2. Lynda Groom January 11, 2017

        On Inauguration Day 2009 seven of Obama’s Cabinet choices were indeed confirmed. All 7 had completed the vetting process the week before when they signed all documents required by the Office of Government Ethics.

        Of the 9 choices of Trumps 6 have now reach agreement with OGE. The point of the arguments taking place today are in regard to rushing forward those who’ve not completed. That’s the point of my comment and the bickering in Congress.

        I believe it was just announced that up to 4 will have their hearings delayed. It seems that maybe pressure upon Mitch may have worked.

    1. I Am Helpy January 9, 2017

      Didn’t even change the letterhead, just scribbled out “Republican” and put in “Democratic”.

      1. roguerunners January 10, 2017

        Note the date of the letter. February 12, 2009. Weeks after President Obama was sworn in. I sent McConnell an email yesterday demanding he do unto others…you know, the golden rule thing. We all need to hold their feet to the fire.

  3. InGen12 January 10, 2017

    Kudos to Chuck Schumer for his bulldog tactics towards the dirty tricks of the Repubs. More Dems need to adopt his attitude towards the ugliness that is being touted in Washington. Evidently, since the Repubs feel they completely control the nation now, they’ve had no problem ripping off their “we’re for the American people” masks they’ve been wearing and we can see the ugliness and disdain they actually have for anyone other than the rich. This was a good poke in the eye for McConnell, the Senate Top Obstructionist. I hope he was embarrassed as hell when this letter went viral!

    Reply
    1. itsfun January 10, 2017

      President-elect Trump was elected to get rid of business as usual in Washington. He is hiring successful business people to fix problems, not just career politicians. Is he suppose to hire poor unsuccessful people to fix the problems?
      Chuck Schumer is bragging about being a obstructionist. I do agree McConnell is a piece of crap and just a RINO.

      1. jmprint January 10, 2017

        No he is not a RINO, he is the mascot for the republican ilk. McCain and Lindsey are RINO’s.

      2. InGen12 January 10, 2017

        He can hire whomever he wants. BUT, whether they are business people or politicians, the issue is that they need to be vetted and McConnell saying to just go ahead with the hearings when ethics reviews and background checks have not been completed is ridiculous. I don’t know a business person alive who would hire someone without a complete background check being done. That is what is being asked, and is required, here.

        1. itsfun January 10, 2017

          That is what is being done. Schumer has been bragging about being a obstructionist and wants to delay the new Presidents policies and programs as long as he can. Schumer will then be pissed off if the Republicans pull the ole dirty Harry Reid stunt and use the nuclear option to get what they want.

  4. itsfun January 10, 2017

    Career politicians just can’t deal with the idea of losing power and money from lobbyists.

    Reply
  5. jmprint January 10, 2017

    I wonder if I was running for an elected position, and the Russian Mafia laundered money through my companies, and I was vetted, would I be confirmed.

    Reply

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