After the election of a highly-controversial president, comes the appointment of a highly controversial cabinet.
Every member of Donald Trump’s cabinet has to be approved by the United States Senate. Therefore, every nominee must pass a Senate hearing, a long session of in-depth questioning. After going through the commission, they need a simple majority in the Senate (51 votes). The Republicans have 51 (soon to be 52) seats in the Senate, so a nominee being rejected is unlikely. Regardless, the Democrats will give these nominees a good grilling, so these hearings are a good opportunity to examine Trump’s future cabinet and what they might indicate about the next four years of his presidency.
The four most important members of the future cabinet (apart from the President and Vice President) are Rex Tillerson, nominee for Secretary of State, Senator Jeff Session, Nominee of Attorney General, Dr Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development and Governor Rick Perry for secretary of energy.
Mr. Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, an oil company, has faced tough questions by Senators across the aisle on his ties to Russia. His personal relationship with Vladimir Putin concerned many members of the Foreign Relations Committee. He tried to placate them by saying his priority would be to stop the Russian expansion in Ukraine and Syria. Mr Tillerson was hotly questioned by Marco Rubio, a Republican Senator, on whether or not he would call Vladimir Putin a war criminal for his actions in Chechnya and Syria. “I would not use that term”, retorted Mr Tillerson. Mr Tillerson opposed Mr Trump on many subjects, including the Muslim Ban, and acknowledged the danger of Global Warming, though he does not view climate change as an “imminent national security threat”.
Sen. Session who was questioned earlier this month for his nomination as Attorney General (head of the Department of Justice). Like Mr Tillerson, he does not completely toe the Trump line. When asked whether he considered grabbing a woman by her genitals without her consent to be a sexual assault, he responded: “Clearly it would be”. He also expressed his will to enforce the law in the matter of abortion, even though he is personally Pro-Life, and regarding the 2010 law expanding hate crime protections to LGBT victims. Throughout his hearing he denied all allegations of racism, as he was accused in 1986 of making racist remarks in his cabinet.
Dr Ben Carson, former surgeon and unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination, was mostly questioned on the interests of Mr Trump and his family within the real estate market. Senator Elizabeth Warren relentlessly questioned him on whether he could guarantee that the Trumps would make any profit from the taxpayer’s money. “I can assure you that the things that I do are driven by a sense of morals and values, it will not be my intention to do anything to benefit him” Carson responded obliquely.
The last nominee to go through a hearing before the inauguration was the nominee for Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas. Mr Perry ran for President in 2012; during one of the debates he forgot which government agency he planned on eliminating. It was the Department of Energy. Mr Perry seemed unclear on what exactly his Department did: as well as working on renewable energy, Mr Perry is now in charge of maintaining the U.S.A.’s nuclear arsenal. He is succeeding Ernest Moniz, a highly recognised nuclear physicist.
It is unlikely that any of Mr Trump’s cabinet nominees will be turned down, much as they may deserve it. As it stands, Mr Trump’s cabinet will be the whitest, most male cabinet since Ronald Reagan. It will also be one of the wealthiest. But not one of the most experienced.
Featured Image: Kaz Vorpal via Flickr