Evan Osnos at The New Yorker writes—Senate Republicans Gut the Confirmation Process:
McConnell’s schedule insures that reporters will be spread thin, details will go unexamined, and a share of the public already addled by a Presidential transition marred by Trump’s denigration of the intelligence community will be overwhelmed with noise. Most important, McConnell and the Trump transition team have ignored the complaints of the Office of Government Ethics, which is tasked with overseeing ethics and potential conflicts in the federal government. The Trump transition has largely deflected the office’s attempts to get in touch. In an astonishing public statement, ethics-office director Walter Shaub e-mailed Trump aides in November to say that “we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election.” Shaub warned the transition that, by not producing enough materials with which to review the candidate’s financial information beforehand, they could end up breaking the law on conflicts of interest. […]
Then, in a letter to Senate Democrats released on Saturday, Shaub wrote that his staff was unable to do its work in time for the hearings, which “left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues.” He added, “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.”
McConnell’s actions look especially brazen when one considers his own past statements. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a letter signed by McConnell, in 2009, in which he demanded that “financial disclosures must be complete” before any Obama Administration nominees could receive a hearing. Pressed about that, McConnell dispensed with the usual decorous wind of nonsense about procedure and declared a blunt belief in zero-sum politics. “What this is about, the Democrats are really frustrated that they lost the election,” McConnell said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We need to sort of grow up here and get past that,” he said.
But the most remarkable thing about McConnell’s desire to “get past” the process of vetting before the vetting has happened is not what it says about his commitment to political tribalism above all other values. That was already well-established, after all. No, the truly remarkable story it reveals involves the sheer recklessness of the incoming Administration. The vetting process is not, as some of Trump’s neophyte advisers might suspect, just a ritual performed for weak-kneed “goo-goos,” the good-government types in comfortable shoes. On the contrary, it is meant to be a cold-eyed political demolition derby: a controlled explosion that can protect an Administration by preventing a problem appointee from getting inside the inner sanctum.
TWEET OF THE DAY
BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Armstrong Williams: ‘There are others’:
The Nation’s David Corn got the backstage scoop:
“This happens all the time,” he told me. “There are others.” Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. “I’m not going to defend myself that way,” he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.
Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House’s payola rolls.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, it’s a parade of “lol nothing matters yolo” from the Trump camp. Incomplete ethics filings, Crowley’s plagiarism, still more omissions by Sessions, and Tillerson’s sanctions violations. Armando joins to discuss Sessions, ACA risks, and hardball tactics.