Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has a pretty simple request to ask of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell he wants President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees to meet the same level of scrutiny that was required of President Obama’s cabinet choices eight years ago. What he wants is so similar to what McConnell wanted eight years ago that Schumer simply swapped out the names and sent the same letter back to McConnell.
There’s a reason for all the snarkiness, though. Republicans are in control of the senate, and they’ve begun to hold nomination hearings before nominees have even completed their background checks as well as their ethics clearances that are usually required of those appointed to the Cabinet.
These were the standards that Obama’s administration went through back in 2008, and that was back when Democrats controlled the Senate.
Now that the same is required of Trump’s nominees, we’re seeing them getting a pass on these standards. This is going on even as there are still mounting conflicts of interest with Trump and his business practices all around the world that still need to be addressed.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 9, 2017
Unfortunately, Schumer probably won’t be able to accomplish what McConnell did eight years ago. When McConnell sent the letter eight years ago, there was a real possibility that the Republicans would filibuster. This would require 60 out of 100 votes to accomplish. This would have halted any nominee that Obama was trying to push through, no matter what.
After years of Republicans obstructing all of what Obama was trying to accomplish, the Democrats dismantled the filibuster for executive nominees, and that’s including executive and Cabinet positions. That means that now executive nominations cannot be filibustered and only need a simple majority to get through.
Since Republicans do have 52 out of 100 seats and the soon-to-be Vice President (a Republican) can break any tie, it doesn’t seem like this letter will have as much power that McConnell’s did eight years ago.
Still, if only for symbolic purposes, this does make a strong political point that Democrats will not remain downtrodden and beaten and will instead actively fight any bit of wrongdoing or malfeasance on the part of Republicans.
This all comes as Donald Trump is facing some serious conflict of interest concerns as well as the fact that he has still yet to divest himself of his business ties, which is a serious political point to be made.
This also comes after concerns over Trump’s conversation with Taiwan, which calls into question the longstanding United States position of a One-China state. Considering how much of a superpower China is, this can have disastrous consequences. Already we’ve seen Chinese state-run media accusing Trump of being an amateur to the political scene. Considering China’s standing army massively outnumbers our own, the prospects of going to war with the Chinese would be incredibly foolish.
There are other instances as well that call into question Trump’s diplomatic abilities. Trump has already encouraged that there be another arms race as there was decades ago and has called for the proliferation of nuclear weapons instead of the reduction of them. He also publicly called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email servers through a tweet, and there are new claims by multiple intelligence agencies that confirm the Russians were behind the hack that released many of Hillary Clinton’s emails just before the election.
While it’s unfortunately not uncommon to find a scandal in the course of political dealings, there have rarely been this many and this serious of scandals going on even before Trump assumes office. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into his presidency.