Five Reasons Why Trump’s Cabinet Nominees Deserve More Scrutiny, Not Less

As Majority Leader McConnell attempts to rush hearings on Trump’s Cabinet nominees before they are fully vetted and has jammed as many as nine of those hearings into three days, it might be helpful to remember that there are at least five reasons why they deserve more scrutiny than presidential nominees in the past, not less.

The Wealthiest Cabinet in History

Here is what Matt Rocheleau reported as of December 30th:

Collectively, the wealth of his Cabinet choices so far is about five times greater than President Obama’s Cabinet and about 34 times greater than the one George W. Bush led at the end of his presidency.

And Trump still has four more key advisory spots left to fill.

The net worth of the Cabinet Trump had selected as of Monday was at least $13.1 billion, based on available estimates, or more than the annual gross domestic product of about 70 small countries.

That poses particular questions for nominees like Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, whose business dealings in both Russia and Iran could pose some serious conflicts for a Secretary of State. There are also questions about Steve Mnuchin’s (Treasury Secretary nominee) association with a business that might have been engaged in foreclosure fraud and housing discrimination. Serious questions have also been raised about Rep. Tom Price, who Trump has nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, about his trading in more than $300,000 in shares of health-industry stocks while sponsoring legislation that would ostensibly impact the value of those shares.

The Most Right Wing Cabinet in History

Surrounding himself with advisors like Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn – who don’t require Senate confirmation – Trump has added several politicians and former candidates who hold extreme positions on a variety of issues. That would include Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt and Tom Price.

A Cabinet That Will Undermine the Departments They Would Lead

One of the ways several of these nominees have demonstrated their extremism is by their history of attempting to undermine the very departments they would be tasked with leading. Here is a summary of just a few of them:

Pruitt has spent much of his energy as attorney general fighting the very agency he is being nominated to lead.

He is the third of Trump’s nominees who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run. Ben Carson, named to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has expressed a deep aversion to the social safety net programs and fair housing initiatives that have been central to that agency’s activities. Betsy DeVos, named education secretary, has a passion for private school vouchers that critics say undercut the public school systems at the core of the government’s mission.

Zero Governing Experience at the Top

The responsibility for running the federal government will weigh more heavily of Trump’s cabinet due to the fact that neither he nor his major advisors have any experience in actual governing.

Trump’s Hands Off Approach

Perhaps more important than any of the above is this:

Members of Congress, transition team officials, real estate lawyers, lobbyists and executives in New York who know Trump expect him to be a chairman-of-the-board style manager in the White House.

Trump, they say, doesn’t usually like getting into day-to-day minutiae or taking lengthy briefings on issues. He doesn’t have particularly strong feelings on the intricacies of some government issues and agencies, these people say, and would rather focus on high-profile issues, publicity and his brand.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, it has been clear for a long time now that Trump wanted to run for the presidency, not BE president. That’s why he can’t stop talking about the election and embraces every opportunity to take credit for things he hasn’t done. The real work of running our federal government will be left up to his Vice President and Cabinet members. That is precisely why they deserve more scrutiny, not less.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.