*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
There has been a fair amount of despair over the choices dirty Donald Trump has made for his cabinet and several government agencies and departments with good reason. By now one or two Americans likely understand that Trump, or whomever, selected anti-government actors to fill out his administration all have a unique hatred for the agency they will lead to destruction. With Democrats in the minority in the Senate, a condition that will last indefinitely according to experts, there is nothing to stop Republicans from confirming anti-government conservatives to begin openly dismantling the federal government.
So, this week as Senate Republicans rush to confirm all of Trump’s, or Heritage Foundation’s, cabinet appointees, it was revealed that many of the Trump’s selections have failed to complete background checks and ethics clearances. For over four decades it has been a requirement to allow those in power to at least peruse various documents to make certain cabinet level positions are not being filled by criminals, but this will be the “Trump administration” and corruption is seemingly a requirement to serve despicable Trump and the Koch brothers. Besides, cabinet-level nominees not releasing their documentation is exactly how Trump concealed his corruption by not releasing his tax returns.
Reports are that despite not knowing what kind of people they are anxious to confirm, or if they have ethical problems or conflicts of interests, Senate Republicans are expected to hold up to five hearings on Wednesday alone without properly vetting the appointees. Their pathetically mendacious excuse is that because they are Republicans, they simply want to ensure that the new president has a team in place as quickly as possible to begin dismantling the government.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was absolutely giddy at the prospect of repaying the Koch brothers by finally having a rubber stamp in the White House who will support and defend their effort in “going after the federal government across the board, all of it.” McConnell said, “I believe all the president-elect’s cabinet appointments will be confirmed;” without proper vetting and background checks that just might have kept corrupt and unethical Republicans from decimating their respective departments and agencies.
Laughingly, Senate Democrats pretend like they have a voice or influence in the upper chamber to befuddle Trump’s nominees and are calling for the confirmation process to be slowed and to spread the hearings out. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said the right thing; spreading out the confirmations would allow the Senate a little more time to vet the nominees. But that is definitely not Trump, the Kochs, or Republicans’ plan and not going to happen. Remember, even though as Klobuchar said, “Our first overarching focus is getting tax returns and ethics forms,” that was the entire Democratic Party’s “overarching focus” during the general election campaign and Trump laughed in their faces like Senate Republicans are now doing to their Democratic colleagues.
The issue of rushing to confirm the Trump’s nominees without proper vetting or background checks is, not only unprecedented, it is a major concern to the Office of Government Ethics chief, Walter M. Shaub Jr. Mr. Shaub sent a letter to Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) stating his consternation over not being given the information to make an honest assessment of the nominees’ ethics. Mr. Shaub wrote that, “the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me.”
Shaub also said that the Republicans’ packed schedule was putting “undue pressure” on his office to “rush its ‘reviews’ of the nominees.” Something he said had never occurred in over four decades of the Government Ethics Office’s existence was the Senate ever considering to hold a single confirmation hearing, much less several in one day, before the background checks and reviews were completed.
But that really is the point of Republicans rushing the confirmation process; rubber-stamping Trump’s appointees who likely have something to hide. It is not, as lying Republicans claim, to give the new president a team in place as soon as possible or they would have been pressing the nominees to turn over tax returns and ethics forms in a timely manner.
They are rushing the nominees through to cover over any “unethical” records including “gifts” from lobbyists that prove premeditated conflicts of interest; like the cretin who nominated them. It was exactly the same reason corrupt celebrity Trump refused to release his tax returns; it no surprise Republicans are rushing confirmation without the benefit of tax returns from the Trump nominees.
To say the Senate Republican move is unprecedented is an understatement. According to a law professor at the University of Minnesota who also served as the chief ethics counsel to former president George W. Bush, Professor Richard W. Painter said none of the nominees could receive a full vote on the Senate floor before the vetting was complete. And, another former White House ethics counsel, Norman Eisen said the paperwork delays were “totally unheard-of.” Maybe it was unheard of before Koch Republicans owned the entire federal government, and before a truly corrupt Russian businessman won the White House, but this is 2017 when corruption and unethical practices became a requirement to serve under the Republican banner carried by dishonest Don.
One has to give Senate Democrats kudos for promising a valiant attempt to slow the rush to confirm Trump appointees in a day or so. They claim their intent is using “all the procedural moves available to slow the process on the Senate floor,” possibly spending up to 30 hours per nominee. It is something that has Republicans absolutely furious that their government dismantling crusade cannot begin on Trump’s first day in office.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) likely forgot that Republicans refused to even consider confirming many of President Barack Obama’s appointees and feigned righteous indignation that fooled no-one. He said, “Holding up confirmations just for delay’s sake is irresponsible and it is dangerous. This is a dangerous world we are living in, and why in the world would we want to make it even more dangerous just to let our colleagues delay for delay’s sake President-elect Trump getting to fill his cabinet, particularly these important national security offices?”
Cornyn is demonstrating typical Republican hypocrisy, of course, and yet one can’t ignore that he never considered inciting any of Trump’s appointees to do what designees have done for over four decades: turn over their tax returns and ethics forms to prevent any delays.
Republicans will attempt to ram Trump’s nominees down Americans’ throats without properly vetting them, or checking to see how corrupt they will be “in the dangerous world we are living in.” And with a corrupt television celebrity occupying the White House and members of his cabinet unwilling to turn over documents necessary to ensure they are not corrupt, 2017 will be the year when America became incredibly dangerous because it appears that the entire government under Republican rule will be as corrupt as the Party standard bearer, Donald Trump.