Trump has been making moves on appointing cabinet members. Let’s break them down.
A minority of the positions do not require Senate confirmation, making them difficult to oppose. Those include:
Chief of Staff – Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus is the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and has spoken out against certain statements made by Trump in the past, such as Trump’s proposal to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration, and Trump’s criticisms of the Khan family. Priebus is generally well-liked in the Republican party and to some, signals Trump’s ability to work within the system.
Chief Strategist – Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon is worrisome to many. He has had many positions in corporate America, but most recently was the executive chair of Breitbart News. Breitbart is an alt-right (or white supremacist) news site that’s pretty gross. There have been valid criticisms that Bannon is anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. (Incidentally, if you want to put pressure on companies advertising on Breitbart, check out Sleeping Giants on Twitter.) There’s a MoveOn petition to stop the appointment Steve Bannon, but because the Senate does not need to confirm Bannon, the actions to stop him are indirect, and involve threatening other action in the Senate.
White House Counsel – Don McGahn II
Don McGahn is a partner at Jones Day, who served as commissioner and chairman of the Federal Election Committee. He served as Trump’s campaign counsel for the presidential campaign. McGahn has pushed to deregulate campaign finance laws, and is known for being combative.
National Security Adviser – Michael Flynn
This guy is kind of a disaster. He is the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and was reportedly forced out in 2014 after clashing with superiors. During his time as director, it was said he was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.” Additionally, the New York Times has reported that Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with facts, which his subordinates began referring to as “Flynn facts.” Flynn’s tenuous relationship with facts transfers over to social media, where he has pushed conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton. He has since deleted his tweet, which linked to an article on True Pundit accusing Clinton of being connected to sex crimes with children, among other things. Fortunately, news sources reported on the tweet, including its language:
U decide – NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc…MUST READ! https://t.co/O0bVJT3QDr
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) November 3, 2016
And there’s more. The Washington Post just broke a story today on how General Flynn shared classified information with foreign military officials in Afghanistan during a 2010 U.S. military investigation.
That’s just the four appointees who do not need to be confirmed by the Senate. Trump has made public 16 of the remaining 21 positions of his cabinet. Instead of going through them one by one, we will be doing an “Cabinet Member of the Day” post to address each of them. Today is…..
Attorney General – Jeff Sessions
This one is a biggie. The United States Attorney General is the nation’s top law enforcement official and the head of the United States Department of Justice. Sessions will oversee all arms of the Department of Justice, and will be supervising the types of enforcement the DOJ chooses to pursue. It’s a big deal.
Sessions is currently the junior U.S. Senator for Alabama. Prior to his time as senator, he worked as an Assistant U.S. States Attorney and was nominated by Ronald Reagan to be a district judge in the Southern District of Alabama. Sessions was not confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the confirmation process, four DOJ lawyers who had worked with Sessions testified that he had made racially insensitive remarks, such as calling the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and “Communist-inspired,” that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot,” and that Sessions had admonished a black Assistant U.S. Attorney to “be careful what you say to white folks.”
Alright, alright. That was 30 years ago. What has Sessions been up to since then? Last year he authored the Immigration Handbook For the New Republican Majority, which calls for a slowdown of legal immigration and blames immigration for “welfare dependency” in the United States. Sessions also appeared on a Breitbart Radio show last December, where he stated that we’re seeing “more and more persons enter [the United States] and a lot of them have done terrorist acts.” Sessions also stated that “[t]heir faith commands them to do these things,” and that a Muslim registry was “appropriate” to discuss at this time. He also thinks stop-and-frisk laws, which have been ruled unconstitutional because it targets minority men, are just fine.
FYI, Jeff Sessions is on the ACLU’s radar. He’s also on the radar of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which is a coalition of more than 200 human rights groups. Before he is confirmed as Attorney General, Sessions must get through the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is a two-day process scheduled for January 10-11, 2017. If Sessions is confirmed by a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it goes to the full Senate, and will also require a majority vote. By the way. Sessions is ON the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he will not be able to vote for himself.
If this doesn’t sound good to you, here’s what you can do.
You can contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which include:
- Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
- Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
- Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
- Dick Durbin (D-IL)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Michael Lee (R-UT)
- Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Al Franken (D-MN)
- Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Chris Coons (D-DE)
- David Vitter (R-LA)
- Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
- David Perdue (R-GA)
- Thom Tillis (R-NC)
If you are a constituent, call the office of your senator and tell them you oppose the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, especially if one of your senators is Republican. There are 10 Republican votes and nine Democrat votes if no one switches party lines.
Also contact your senators, even if they’re not on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They will have to vote on any confirmation, and if a majority do not confirm Sessions, it’s a no go. The Republicans will have a majority come January, with 52 seats as opposed to 48 seats for Democrats, but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t be swayed.