Senate Democrats question if Trump nominee Kathy Kraninger had role in kid separation

By Michelle Price

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. Senate Democrats have written to President Donald Trump’s nominee to head up the U.S. consumer watchdog agency, seeking documents to determine whether she had a role in the administration’s policy of separating children from their illegal immigrant families.

Trump on Monday formally nominated Kathy Kraninger, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), drawing criticism from Democrats and consumer advocates, and dividing Republicans.

The letter from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown dated June 18 could drag Kraninger into the controversy over the administration’s policy of detaining children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The policy has caused a national uproar and divided Republicans, potentially threatening Kraninger’s nomination.

Brown and Warren said they want information on what role Kraninger played in the administration’s “cruel policy” to separate children from their families. The senators said she has been involved in overseeing policies implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Justice Department.

OMB representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy in which all those apprehended entering the United States illegally from Mexico would be criminally charged. That has led the government to separate children from their parents.

Democrats have accused the administration of “barbaric” treatment of children, while Republicans are moving tentatively toward legislation that would curb, if not entirely halt, the practice.

Kraninger has helped prepare the president’s annual budget request for the DHS and Justice Department, including “ongoing policy and management guidance” and overseeing the “implementation of policy options,” Warren and Brown said.

The senators were seeking to determine her role, if any, in implementing the “zero tolerance” policy, they said.

(Reporting by Michelle Price; additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)