Dem senators charge: Trump not draining the swamp
© Greg Nash

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake' Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises MORE (Mass.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats pan Trump's budget proposal as 'dead on arrival' Trump unveils .8 trillion budget that backtracks on deal with Congress End of impeachment trial to leave deep scars in Senate MORE (R.I.) took to the Senate floor Thursday to charge that President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChanges in policies, not personalities, will improve perception of corruption in the US Union leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE is already walking back his pledge to "drain the swamp."

Warren said that roughly a week after the presidential election, Trump is "inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door."

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"We've heard reports that Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump's 'two steps forward, one step backward' strategy with China The state of the Democratic primary: Heading to a brokered convention?   Rally crowd chants '46' for Donald Trump Jr. MORE has now decided to remove all the lobbyist from the transition team," she said from the Senate floor. "Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. ... Trump promised to drain the swamp, and after one week we've seen what Donald Trump's promise means. Nothing."

NBC News reported Wednesday that Pence has ordered that all lobbyists be removed from the transition team.

Trump, during a CBS News interview earlier in the week, acknowledged his team contains lobbyists but argued that Washington is all "one big lobbyist" and promised his administration would "phase that out."

Whitehouse said Trump's campaign pledge to "drain the swamp" could be an area where Democrats are able to work with his administration. 

"There are a lot of very powerful creatures in the swamp," he said. "It's one thing to say you're going to drain it. It's another thing to actually take them on."

Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad Union leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake' MORE (I-Vt.) both questioned Trump's transition team on Tuesday.

Apart from the issue of lobbyists on the team, Democrats have also homed in on Trump's decision to make former Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor.

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (D-Minn.) spoke from the Senate floor on Thursday next to a sign of headlines from the conservative website, including one from 2015 that read: "Gabby Giffords: The gun control movement's human shield."

"This is nasty stuff. This is vile, and it comes all the way from the top, from Mr. Bannon himself," Franken said. "We have no reason to believe that Mr. Bannon would not seek to deploy such tactics from the White House."

Democratic Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall 'Birds of Prey' movie reveals Harley Quinn voted for Sanders MORE (Vt.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Hillicon Valley: Facebook suspends misinformation networks targeting US | Lawmakers grill census officials on cybersecurity | Trump signs order to protect GPS | Dem senators propose federal facial recognition moratorium MORE (Ore.) also spoke against Bannon from the Senate floor on Thursday.

Ten senators, including Merkley and Franken, as well as Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), sent Trump a letter on Thursday urging that he "immediately" fire Bannon.

Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (Ky.), have largely sidestepped weighing in on the appointment. Many GOP lawmakers have also noted they've never met Trump's chief aid.

But Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said people should look at Bannon's entire career, which includes stints on Wall Street, in the Navy and in Hollywood.

“He has got a Harvard business degree. He’s a naval officer. He has success in entertainment,” she told reporters Monday in Trump Tower, according to The New York Times. She also called him a “brilliant tactician.”