Sen. Blumenthal: Halt Confirmation Hearings For Trump Appointments Until They Pass Background Checks
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is concerned enough about President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks that he has called for a halt to their Senate confirmation hearings until each goes through background checks, according to CBS News. While Congress isn’t able to confirm Trump’s nominees until after his swearing-in, they can expedite the process by holding hearings to get the nominations ready for Inauguration Day. Which means the week is jam-packed with hearings.
Every nominee first undergoes a hearing with the Senate committee that bears oversight responsibilities for that nominee’s department. Once the committee holds a vote and approves the nominee, the full Senate will vote on each candidate. Blumenthal took to Twitter on Monday, writing that he believes no Cabinet nominee should be considered without financial disclosure and background checks.
“I am calling for a timeout until necessary info submitted,” he tweeted.
No Cabinet nominee should be considered w/o financial disclosure&background check. I am calling for a timeout until necessary info submitted
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 9, 2017
In December, Blumenthal and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), asked the Obama administration to review Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn because he “reportedly has a record of mishandling classified intelligence,” Politico reports. Flynn, who clashed with Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, would be privy to some of the nation’s most heavily guarded secrets, and this is what has Blumenthal and Shaheen concerned.
Perhaps it’s these concerns that fueled Blumenthal to request that confirmation of Trump’s Cabinet picks be put on hold. On CBSN’s show Red & Blue, Blumenthal discussed his position on the nominees and why he thinks background checks and political disclosures are important.
“The background check process by the FBI discloses things as simple as whether someone has been arrested, whether someone has made statements that may indicate extreme prejudice or bias or bigotry, what is in someone’s past in terms of other conflicts of interest,” Blumenthal told CBSN’s Eliane Quijano. “And the financial disclosure form enables us to know what that person’s dealings have been.”
Also, someone at a lower bureaucratic level in the federal government, would need to disclose this information in order to be considered by the White House for an appointment, he said.
“Here we have some of the most important public positions of trust and responsibility and still we don’t have basic information to use when we question them in a hearing,” he added.
Further, Blumenthal noted he has a number of concerns about several nominees, including Sen. Tom Price, who has been nominated to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Blumenthal noted he was concerned about Price “because of his extreme opposition to any form of health insurance, as well as his opposition to women’s healthcare.”
Who else is he worried about?
During the interview, he also criticized GOP lawmakers’ plan to repeal Obamacare, saying that repealing it without a plan to replace it “is just wrong,” Blumenthal said.
He also spent a bit of time discussing the upcoming appointment of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to senior White House adviser. This is a move that “will raise questions in terms of potential conflicts of interest.”
“He is very closely associated with at least one bank that is under investigation, criminal investigation, apparently and reportedly,” Blumenthal said. “He also has continued real-estate interest in New York and other parts of the world…so there are going to be questions. And he is a special adviser which means there is no Senate confirmation, but there will still be very serious inquiry of what his involvement might be in certain kinds of ongoing activity.”
But Senate GOP leaders say they will proceed as planned with the hearings, and all the nominees will be vetted in time for the hearings. On CBS’ Face the Nation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republicans hope to have seven Cabinet picks confirmed when Trump is sworn in.
You can watch Blumenthal discuss background checks for cabinet appointees in the video below.
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