As January 20th quickly approaches, the soon-to-be president Donald Trump’s selections for his administration leaders are undergoing confirmation hearings this week.
Like expected, some of the sessions have been uglier than others, especially Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ second confirmation hearing for attorney general on Wednesday.
Sessions was formerly the Alabama attorney general and has been known for being tough on crime.
Sen. Cory Booker was quick to testify against the senator in the hearing, arguing that Sessions would not appropriately defend women, people of color, LGBT communities, immigrants or voting rights.
“His record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts toward bringing justice to the justice system,” said Booker.
John Lewis, a Georgia rep and a civil rights leader, also was passionate against appointing Sessions.
“It doesn’t matter how Sen. Sessions may smile, how friendly he may be, how he may speak to you,” said Lewis. “We need someone who’s going to stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer also said Thursday he would be voting against Sessions.
“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” said Schumer in a statement.
Others insisted he would cause harm, specifically to the African American community, however William Smith, who worked with Sessions and served as the first African-American general counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was at the hearing to defend him.
“After 20 years of knowing Sen. Sessions, I have not seen the slightest evidence of racism, because it does not exist,” said Smith. “I know a racist when I see one, and I’ve seen more than one, and Jeff Sessions is not one.”
Following the hearing where Session’s character was insulted repeatedly by democrats, Sen. Ted Cruz and former Trump rival spoke out about the hearing.
“Some of the Democratic senators chose to be ugly and go after Jeff personally and that’s despite serving in this body with him, sitting on that bench just a few seats away from him,” said Cruz on The Joe Pags Show.
“They nonetheless went after him and tried to impugn Jeff’s integrity. I think it was done in a way that wasn’t fair and wasn’t accurate and one of the things I tried to do in the Senate, especially in the Judiciary Committee in the confirmation hearing, is ensure that the facts are fairly presented… so that you don’t a one-sided or biased presentation.”
There was a hearing today that faced much less opposition. James Mattis appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and received support from both political parties.
The committee “easily afterward passed a waiver that exempts Mattis from a law requiring Defense secretaries to be retired from military service for at least seven years,” reports The Hill.
Some have been surprised by Trump’s selection of Mattis, considering he has different stances than the president-elect on Russia, the Iran deal, transgender service members, NATO, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and other issues.
Mattis pointed out during the hearing that Trump is open to discussion.
“He’s shown himself open even to the point of asking questions and going deeper into the issue about why I stand where I stand,” said Mattis.
When asked about the F-35 program in particular, Mattis said they both value budgeting and keeping cost down.
“That’s where I find common ground with him,” said Mattis. “I see his statements [as] showing his serious side about keeping costs under control.”
He did say the aircraft was “critical to our own air superiority” though.
Another hearing today was held for Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA Director.
Like anticipated, Pompeo stated that he agreed that Russia has interfered with the U.S. election. He also said that if name CIA director, he would resume the investigate into the matter.
“I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor no matter where the facts lead,” said Pompeo.
He also made it clear that he would be putting aside his personal opinions, and will be fair and alway comply with the law, regardless if asked by the president to do actions outside of the current Army Field Manual.
Pompeo, like Trump, is a critic of the Iran Deal and has defended enhance interrogation techniques as legal and patriotic.
Other hearings occurring this week include Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and Ben Carson for the HUD post. Both have tremendous support and are expected to be confirmed by the Senate.