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Confirmation Hearings to Begin Before Trump Nominees Finish Ethics Clearances

HeadlineJan 09, 2017
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A barrage of Senate confirmation hearings is set to begin Tuesday for what would be the wealthiest Cabinet in modern American history. This comes despite concerns that ethics clearances and background checks are incomplete for several of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks. Senator Jeff Sessions faces questions Tuesday for his nomination as attorney general, along with Trump’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, retired Marine General John Kelly. On Wednesday, hearings are set for former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as the potential secretary of state, along with education secretary pick Betsy DeVos, transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao and CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo. Tillerson’s net worth is at least $300 million, and several other nominees hold assets of more than a billion dollars, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose confirmation hearing is on Thursday. As Cabinet appointees, the nominees are required to submit a financial disclosure report that is used by the agencies they are to take over, along with the Office of Government Ethics. The New York Times reports that some of the nominees have so many assets that there are not enough boxes on the standard form for them. The leader of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, wrote in a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, "This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews." This comes as NBC reports that it requested emails between the Office of Government Ethics and Trump’s transition team and found Shaub had emailed Trump aides in November to say, "We seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election." We’ll have more on the confirmation hearings after headlines.

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