More Trouble for Trump's Cabinet Choices

Posted by Dale Eisman on February 7, 2017


Today In Democracy

As Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote early this afternoon to confirm President Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education, there was trouble on the horizon for another Cabinet pick, Labor Secretary-designate Andrew F. Puzder.

A fast-food chain executive whose nomination already was drawing fire over his failure to submit required disclosure forms to the Senate committee reviewing his nomination, Puzder acknowledged on Monday that for several years he and his wife employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.

“When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status,” Puzder said. He and his wife also paid back taxes to the federal and state governments, he added.

A confirmation hearing for Puzder was delayed four times by his failure to submit required paperwork and now has been postponed indefinitely.

Voting shortly after noon, the Senate divided as expected on DeVos; the 50-50 split was the first ever on a Cabinet nomination. Democrats took the Senate floor on Monday to air their case against DeVos, talking through the night and in the pre-dawn hours today in search of a 51st vote. All 48 Democratic senators and two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, ultimately voted  against the nominee.

 

First Lady Melania Trump has filed a lawsuit claiming that a British tabloid’s false claim that she once worked for an escort service is costing her “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to cash in on her status as one of the most photographed women in the world.

The Washington Post reports that the $150 million suit, filed Monday in Manhattan, alleges that the story published in the Daily Mail -- and later retracted -- caused Trump’s brand, “Melania,” to lose “significant value” as well as “major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.”

As her husband sought and ultimately won the presidency, Melania Trump, a former model, was well-placed to launch “a broad-based commercial brand… with product categories [that] would have included, among other things, apparel accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance,” the suit charges.

The unusual suit may focus new attention on the President’s refusal to put his real estate empire into a blind trust. Trump announced last month that he has turned management of his businesses over to his two adult sons but he retains ownership. Another pending lawsuit contends that the President is in violation of the Constitution’s “emoluments clause,” which bars federal officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.

 

Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is taking aim at the landmark “open internet” rules passed by the FCC in 2015, The New York Times reports.

Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who has been an FCC commissioner for several years, has launched his tenure as chairman with a series of steps to roll back consumer protections put in place during the Obama administration.

In addition to signaling plans to roll back the open internet protections, which require internet service providers to treat all online content equally, Pai has stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income customers. He also withdrew an FCC plan to control long distance charges on prison phones, and scrapped a proposal to break the cable industry’s hold on the market for set top boxes.

 

Jim VandeHei, the journalist/entrepreneur who co-founded Politico and more recently the online news site Axios, this morning posted a sobering assessment of the state of our politics.

“Sorry, American Politics Will Get Worse,” opens with an assertion that “Donald Trump was a symptom, not the cause, of our cancerous politics — and the disease is metastasizing.” The lede sets the tone for a critique that argues that centrist politics are essentially dead, the major political parties are shells, “fake news” is driving Americans further apart and that “people increasingly don’t trust real news” either.

Depressing stuff, but worth a read.

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Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Ethics

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