Sessions hearing confirms reality of Trump's #RiggedCabinet
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The confirmation hearings for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE’s cabinet are underway. This is an opportunity for the incoming Trump administration to demonstrate to the American people that their nominees will be effective arbiters and protectors of equal rights under the law, civil rights, national security, environmental protections, health care security, educational opportunities, workers’ rights, fair diplomacy and international relations.  

Sadly, none of these nominees have ever demonstrated they would ever be, or would ever do, any of these things with the well-being of all of the American people in mind.  

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Most of Trump’s nominees send shivers down the backs of Americans, especially those in communities of color, women, the LGBTQ community, Americans who care about the environment, workers, teachers and parents, and those who believe our Diplomat-in-Chief should not have, like the President-elect has, a tainted pro-Russia philosophy that has awarded them favors and recognition from our adversary in the past.  

No wonder Democrats are doing everything they can to bring to light the major concerns Americans have over Trump’s #RiggedCabinet.  

Let’s start with the fact that the Office of Government Ethics sent a letter of concern to Senators pointing out their view that the Trump administration was trying to jam through confirmation hearings without the appropriate background, ethics, and financial reviews necessary and respected in years past by other administrations, Republican and Democrat.  

This simple action flies in the face of Trump’s own commitment to his supporters that he would “drain the swamp” once he got to Washington.  

Really? How can he drain the swamp if he — and more importantly the American people — have no idea what lurks in the backgrounds and finances of these nominees that could hinder their fair adjudication of the key issues these nominees will be dealing with on a daily basis?  

More alarming are the positions that we already know well many of these nominees have had and acted upon in the past that would be harmful to many communities across the country.  

For example, Senator Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment McCabe says he would 'absolutely not' cut a deal with prosecutors MORE is well known for his disdain for social justice, his lack of a commitment to civil rights and voting rights, his actions that have been hurtful to the LGBTQ community, immigrants’ rights, and women’s health issues.  He was so notorious in these areas that he was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 exactly because of some of these same concerns.  

And today, during his morning questioning, it seems he doubled-down on a claim that so far cannot be verified. Senator Sessions claims he filed “20 to 30 civil rights cases” to desegregate schools and other organizations in Alabama when he was a U.S. attorney for Alabama’s Southern District.

The problem is there is no independent verification this happened. The Atlantic cannot find any record of these cases being file or worked on by Sessions, and the attorneys involved in these cases do not recall ever even meeting Sessions during their work on them.  

How odd. Disgraceful actually, if he lied.

What about Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State?  Mr. Tillerson’s myriad of business interests and contacts overseas makes it a thicket of potential conflicts he will have to manage and dispel.  

Of concern is Tillerson’s closeness to the government of Russia, having received the Order of Friendship from Russian President Vladimir Putin himself in 2013.  Disturbingly, Tillerson opposed the Russian sanctions imposed after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Crimea in 2014.  

Given all this history, can Tillerson be a fair arbiter of our international norms, laws, and interests in the face of the many concerns the U.S. intelligence community has about Russia’s interference in our national election process?  Will he side with the intelligence community or with his good friend Putin and the President-elect who has already shown he trusts Putin over our intelligence agencies?

Others of concern are:

  • Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Education secretary, who is a billionaire dedicated to defunding and privatizing our public school system in the name of giving American families more “choice.” Please. The only additional “choice” that will come of this devastating policy for America’s families, is that her billionaire colleagues will have yet another money-making stream generated on the backs of America’s low-income school children.

  • Congressman Tom Price, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, favors privatizing Medicare, abolishing the Affordable Care Act, gutting Medicaid and giving states block grants, and who owned hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care company stock while he wrote rules governing those same companies.

  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to run the EPA, is a science denier and represents a direct threat to communities of color who depend on critical environmental protections to keep our children healthy and safe. According to a letter from Voces Verdes, a Latino Leaders group focused on good environmental policy, “Pruitt’s record shows a reckless disregard for public health and flies in the face of the mission of the agency he has been nominated to lead.” No kidding.

  • Andrew Puzder, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor, is a CEO who is against wage increases or any kind of extended overtime pay. His livelihood is dependent on an industry with a history of underpaying and cheating its workers, and Puzder himself has said that machines are more convenient than “workers who stand up for their rights.” Really? This is the man we want to be protecting the rights of the American worker?

These are the most egregious picks though there are more. Trump’s #RiggedCabinet is the quintessential example of the “fox guarding the hen house” in every possible way.  

Americans should be concerned. Democrats should and will be vigilant. From the background histories, public and business records of all these nominees, we can expect a millionaire’s club of “yes” people to do Trump’s bidding.  

Sadly, Trump’s bidding is in direct conflict with what the majority of the American people want or deserve.  

Maria T. Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter@MariaTCardona.

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