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Democrats to challenge Sessions on immigration, rights as Congress tries to fast-track Trump picks

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats will challenge President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, over his hard-line stand on immigration, past record on civil rights and his support for community policing when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Alabama lawmaker is known as one of the most staunchly conservative members of the Senate, and has already drawn opposition from at least one Democrat, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Democrats don't have the power to block Sessions' nomination since Republicans control the Senate and only need a simple majority to confirm the four-term senator. However, they can use the two days of confirmation hearings beginning Tuesday to cast Sessions as out of the mainstream on issues critical to the party's core voters -- Hispanics, African-Americans and women -- ahead of the 2018 election cycle. Sessions has been a leading advocate not only for a cracking down on illegal immigration, but also for slowing all legal immigration, increasing mass deportations and giving more scrutiny to those entering the United States.


Ethics agency has 'great concern' about Trump nominees' schedule, lack of information

PBS NewsHour

President-elect Donald Trump delivered brief remarks to reporters at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida in December. The independent Office of Government Ethics is expressing "great concern" that several of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet nominees have not yet completed the required ethics review process or even filed any financial information but face confirmation hearings in the next week. The concerns came in a Friday letter from Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, who was responding to questions from top Democrats in the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the letter Saturday. "The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me," Shaub wrote.


VOW TO STRETCH CONFIRMATION? Report: Dems target 8 Trump picks in bid for more info from nominees

FOX News

Senate Democrats reportedly plan to attack eight of Republican President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks and stretch their confirmation process from days to perhaps months, despite having essentially no chance of blocking their nominations. The Democratic senators are vowing to make good on their vow unless the nominees start disclosing personal financial information, according to The Washington Post. Trump has made eight of 17 Cabinet picks, with four remaining. The primary targets include Rex Tillerson for secretary of state; Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general; South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney for the Office of Management and Budget; Betsy DeVos as the new education secretary and Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs executive nominated to be treasury secretary. "President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that … have made billions off the industries they'd been tasked with regulating," incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday.


Senate Republicans Gut the Confirmation Process

The New Yorker

Ladies and gentlemen, proud, hardworking fellow-Americans, good people who just want to play by the rules and believe that people should get a fair shot in life, there is no gentle way to put this: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President-elect Donald Trump think you are very, very stupid. A little more than a week after congressional Republicans tried to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics--they relented only after the public swamped the switchboard to such a degree that even Donald Trump joined the criticism--the Party is back with a related gambit. On Tuesday, over the objections of government-ethics officials and Democrats, Senate Republicans will convene the first of a rapid-fire series of eight confirmation hearings in five days, with four of those in a single day. The strategy appears to be intended to speed the approval of Trump's Cabinet with as little scrutiny as possible--and it will succeed, unless the public objects again. McConnell's schedule insures that reporters will be spread thin, details will go unexamined, and a share of the public already addled by a Presidential transition marred by Trump's denigration of the intelligence community will be overwhelmed with noise.


Tillerson ethics plan foreshadows knotty Trump Cabinet confirmations

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Rex Tillerson's disclosure that he stands to receive a $180 million cash payout from Exxon Mobil Corp. if he becomes the next U.S. secretary of state offers a preview of the thorny ethical questions that may be raised this week over a presidential Cabinet stacked with wealthy tycoons. And with confirmation hearings scheduled for Tillerson and eight other appointees of President-elect Donald Trump, the head of the federal office that helps ensure compliance with conflict-of-interest rules told lawmakers his agency is hard-pressed by too much work and too little time. Tillerson ironed out an agreement with the State Department under which Exxon would pay the cash into an independent trust for him, a move designed to separate his financial interests from the oil company that he led as chairman and CEO until he stepped down Jan. 1. Some compensation specialists question whether Exxon departed from its official compensation policies to extend its former leader a special arrangement; the company says it hasn't. Regardless, Tillerson's ethics filing last week foreshadows the complexity that will attend a busy week of hearings.