I’m old enough to remember when Democrats and their media supporters were complaining that Trump’s nominations were coming too slowly. I was assured by reliable sources that this represented a lack of organization on the part of the Trump transition team. But now that most of the top spots have nominees in place, the head of the Office of Government Ethics is complaining that confirmation hearings are starting too soon and they can’t possibly process them all in regular order. (Washington Post)
A top ethics official warned Saturday 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 came on the eve of the Trump administration-in-waiting’s first big test, with as many as seven nominees for Cabinet positions — many of them already the subject of questions about their qualifications — scheduled to visit Capitol Hill in the coming days for confirmation hearings…
Whether the schedule holds in the coming days is unclear. McConnell’s office declined on Saturday to respond to warnings by Walter M. Shaub Jr., director of the Office of Government Ethics, who said the current confirmation calendar is “of great concern to me” because nominees have not completed a required ethics review before their hearings.
Yes, they need to do background checks on all the nominees. This is well known. Of course, they’ve had to accomplish this same task for every new president in living memory formost observers. The idea of holding hearings before the reviews are complete being problematic is strange at best for a couple of reasons. First, as members from both parties are pointing out, this is hardly unique. It’s been done for nominees of presidents of both parties in the past, though perhaps not this many at once.
But even beyond that, we’re talking about hearings. The Democrats (and in some cases a few Republicans like John McCain) are champing at the bit to get these hearings underway. The sour grapes crowd is still hoping to roast as many of Trump’s appointments over the coals as possible in the next grand plan to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency before he even gets into office. Be that as it may, the hearings are not the actual confirmation votes. Those can be scheduled at the chamber’s convenience. There’s nothing demanding that a confirmation vote be held immediately after the hearings are concluded if there’s still paperwork outstanding for any of them.
Here’s a wild, out of deep center field idea for you to consider. Do you recall way back when… okay, it was just four days ago… when the GOP was talking about “rebranding” the Ethics Committee? Do you suppose there were a few hurt feelings over there? Obviously we’re just spitballing here, but I can’t help but wonder if this normally quiet office suddenly wanted to make some headlines and rain on the GOP’s parade just a bit.
Naw… couldn’t be. I’m sure I’m just overly suspicious.