McConnell Not Following Confirmation Process He Demanded From Reid In ’09

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants Democrats concerned about the incomplete ethics vetting of some of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to “grow up,” but he asked for a similarly thorough review of Barack Obama’s nominees back in 2009.

In a letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), McConnell requested that nominees’ FBI background checks, Office of Government Ethics reviews and financial disclosure statements be complete “prior to a hearing being noticed.”

The Kentucky senator said this complete set of information was necessary to “ensure that the Senate has had the opportunity to fairly review a nominee’s record and to make a fair decision prior to a vote.”

The Senate is scheduled to hold hearings this week for a number of Trump’s Cabinet picks without those conditions having been met for all nominees. The OGE’s director wrote in a Saturday letter to senior Democrats that the crammed hearing schedule has left his office unable to complete ethics reviews for several of Trump’s picks, including education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the letter proved that Trump’s transition team was colluding with Senate Republicans “to jam through these Cabinet nominees before they’ve been thoroughly vetted.”

McConnell’s office did not immediately respond Monday to TPM’s request for comment.

In a statement to PolitiFact, his communications director, David Popp, noted that the Senate had already held hearings for most of of Obama’s Cabinet nominees by the time McConnell sent Reid the letter on Feb. 12, 2009. While this is accurate, Cabinet picks typically complete the vetting process, including an OGE review, before their nominations are submitted to the Senate.

McConnell said Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation” that he wanted “all the records in, all the papers completed” before votes are actually held to confirm Trump’s nominees.

Read the full letter from McConnell below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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