Trump Nominees on the Griddle; President-elect Berates the Media — Again

Trump Nominees on the Griddle; President-elect Berates the Media -- Again

As Congress reviews President-elect Trump's cabinet nominees, the man himself faces off with reporters.

Another Wild Day As Inauguration Approaches

This is turning into what could be the most consequential week in a long time for the future of our democracy. It also may be a preview of the tumult ahead once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

Today, three major Trump nominees face questions from senators in confirmation hearings. Rep. Mike Pompeo, the president-elect’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, no doubt will be closely questioned by members of the Intelligence Committee about how he’ll deal with Trump’s running battle with the nation’s intelligence services.  In the Armed Services Committee, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is expected to get a friendly reception from Republicans and Democrats alike, but will be pressed to affirm the principle that the military must remain under civilian control. The committee quickly removed one potential barrier to Mattis’ confirmation, endorsing special legislation that will give him an exemption from a longstanding law that bars military officers retired for less than seven years from serving as secretary of defense; Mattis retired in 2012. And in the Senate Banking Committee, retired neurosurgeon and failed presidential candidate Ben Carson may be pressed to satisfy skeptical lawmakers that he’s qualified to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That would be an extraordinary day for any past presidential transition but is likely to prove less memorable than Wednesday in Trumpworld. At midday, the President-elect himself faced reporters for the first time in nearly six months in a raucous and less-than-edifying press conference. Trump accused intelligence services of leaking a purported dossier laden with embarrassing allegations about his finances and his personal conduct and berated news organizations that published it. He pointedly refused to take questions from CNN, the network that broke the story and came close to a shouting match with one of its reporters.

Trump also did plenty of boasting about the plan he and his lawyers have concocted to avoid conflicts between his business interests and his responsibilities as President. He’s signed over management of his real estate empire to a trust that controlled by his two sons and he promised not to communicate with them about it throughout his term.

That’s not near enough to avoid potential conflicts, says Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president of policy and litigation. He told the New York Daily News that Trump’s plan is “woefully inadequate.”

“The American public must now demand complete transparency of the Trump Organization and President-elect Trump’s finances,” Ryan said. ” Such transparency is America’s only hope for protecting itself against conflicts of interest.”

Full reports on the press conference are here, and here. The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s fact check on the presser is here.

Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Exxon-Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson ran into skeptical questioning – including some from Republicans – at his Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing. In the Judiciary Committee, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker became the first senator ever to testify against confirmation of a fellow senator for a Cabinet slot. Booker and Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, urged the defeat of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for attorney general, arguing that his long record of opposition to strengthening civil rights and voting rights is disqualifying.

 Common Cause is opposing the Sessions nomination. You can help in that effort here