The Office of Government Ethics on Saturday warned that confirmation hearings for Trump nominees are moving too fast.
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) that was released Saturday, NPR reports that OGE director Walter Shaub wrote that “the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me” and that the current schedule “has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews.
“More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings,” Shaub continued. “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.”
Shaub noted that OGE has yet to receive financial disclosures for some picks set to come before Congress this week, and explained that the Ethics in Government Act requires presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate must have OGE certification of their financial disclosures prior to any congressional hearings.
Shaub wrote that such a process is “complex” and “labor intensive,” and takes “weeks, not days” to ensure that the Senate has a clear picture of any possible conflicts of interest.
According to NPR, a GOP source noted that in the past the OGE paperwork hasn’t always preceded hearings. As an example, in 2001, Rod Paige, George W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Education, had his hearing over a week before the committee received the OGE paperwork.
Confirmation hearings are set to begin this week for several of Trump’s nominees for top cabinet positions so that they can be voted on and sworn in as soon as possible after Trump takes office on Jan. 20. NPR notes the following:
- Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security nominee, retired Gen. John Kelly, are set for hearings on Tuesday.
- On Wednesday, hearings are set for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, whose close ties to Russia as Exxon Mobil CEO have come under scrutiny, along with Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao.
- On Thursday, hearings are set for Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee Ben Carson and Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross. A hearing on retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, Defense Secretary nominee, is also scheduled.
Read more at NPR.