The Office of Government Ethics is sounding the alarm over the pace of confirmation hearings for president-elect Donald Trump’s frightening cabinet picks. Walter Shaub, who heads the OGE, wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raising concerns that the ethics office doesn’t have enough time to thoroughly vet Trump’s nominees before their hearings.
“The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me,” Shaub wrote. “This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews.”
The move is unprecedented. “More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings,” Shaub explained in the letter. “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”
Senate Major Leader McConnell reportedly said those uncomfortable with rushing through Trump’s nominees “need to sort of grow up” and promised the hearings wouldn’t be delayed.
“I know how it feels when you’re coming into a new situation and the other guy’s won the election,” McConnell said according to POLITICO. “What did we do? We confirmed seven Cabinet appointments the day President Obama was sworn in. We didn’t like most of them either. But he won the election. So all of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustrations.”
Except ethics reviews were actually completed for Obama’s picks, resulting in the candidate for secretary of health and human services to withdraw his nomination according to The Washington Post. In the same appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, McConnell also said he won’t allow any votes on the nominees until the ethics paperwork is in. Alright, but the ethics office told McConnell it doesn’t have enough time to do a thorough review so that doesn’t really address those concerns.
“This is not an issue that pits Republicans against Democrats — it pits Republicans against all Americans and an independent ethics agency that is tasked with ensuring the President’s Cabinet follows the law,” Senate Minority Leader Schumer told POLITICO in response to McConnell’s remarks. “Until these nominees have fully cooperated with the ethics review process, the hearings and confirmation schedule should not be rushed.”