The first week of confirmation hearings for the 45th president’s Cabinet nominees is over. Here’s where things stand.
Seven nominees have had confirmation hearings this week, and a theme has emerged: President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees are breaking with him on key issues and campaign promises.
HOW MUCH DO TRUMP’S NOMINEES DISAGREE WITH HIM?
Quite a bit, it seems. There were several examples Thursday, starting with retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, Trump’s nominee to lead the Defense Department.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis said the United States must abide by the Iran nuclear deal and take steps to deter Russia’s ambitions, including keeping a permanent U.S. military installation in the Baltics.
In another part of Capitol Hill, CIA director-designee Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said he would “absolutely not” authorize the torture of terrorism suspects, even if Trump ordered him to do so. This came after retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, nominated to lead the Department of Homeland Security, on Wednesday downplayed Trump’s promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border and Rex Tillerson, nominee for secretary of state, said the United States should keep its seat at the table in global talks on climate change.
Experts called this pattern of disagreement “extraordinarily unusual” in interviews with our colleague Karen Tumulty and raised the possibility the nominees have not fully discussed their views with Trump. From Mattis’s hearing, our Pentagon reporters wrote that these differences “could lead to a fractious approach to foreign policy and interagency feuding in the next administration.”
WARREN TAKES ON CARSON ABOUT TRUMP CONFLICTS
In the Senate Banking and Housing Affairs Committee, where Ben Carson came for his confirmation hearing as Trump’s nominee for secretary of housing and urban development, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pulled no punches.
It all comes back to Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. Warren asked Carson to promise he would not allow any of HUD’s budget to financially benefit the Trump family in the form of construction contracts. Carson would not make that promise.
“It will not be my intention to do anything that will benefit any American,” Carson said, in a flub that quickly went viral. “It’s for all Americans.”
Pressed again, he said he would use “logic and common sense.”
“If there happens to be an extraordinarily good program that’s working for millions of people and it turns out that someone that you’re targeting is going to gain $10 to it, am I going to say, ‘No, the rest of Americans can’t have it?’ ” Carson asked.
NEXT WEEK’S HEARING SCHEDULE
Follow along as we update the calendar here.
ROLES FOR GIULIANI, SCARAMUCCI
Anyone wondering what former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will be doing in Trump’s administration, guess no more.
Trump announced Thursday that Giuliani, a close ally who was once the top contender to become secretary of state, will serve as an informal adviser on cybersecurity issues, including soliciting “anecdotal information” from the private sector about how to lower the threat of hacking.
Another Trump confidant, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci, will serve as the administration’s coordinator for engagement with the business and political community, The Post reports. The position is expected to be similar to the one currently held by Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett, one of the most powerful players in the outgoing White House.
BACK TO THE EMAIL INVESTIGATION
It’s the story that never ends: The inspector general of the Justice Department announced he will review allegations of misconduct against FBI Director James B. Comey in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. The review is expected to involve Comey’s decision to send a letter to congressional leaders on Oct. 28 stating FBI agents resumed the Clinton probe after an unrelated case produced potentially relevant information.