GOP senator held up Trump aide's confirmation to get info on border wall contracts

GOP senator held up Trump aide's confirmation to get info on border wall contracts
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOn The Money: Manhattan DA obtains Trump tax returns | Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda | Biden faces first setback as Tanden teeters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary | GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns | Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns MORE (R-N.D.) reportedly held up the confirmation of a White House budget official this week in order to get information on border wall contracts.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Cramer put a temporary hold this week on the confirmation for Michael Wooten, who was nominated for a senior post at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).


After Wooten’s ultimate confirmation this week, Cramer reportedly hammered the “arrogance” of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after he was told the contracts included sensitive information from the companies that could not be shared.

The Post reported that Cramer has touted a major donor's company as his preferred construction firm. Cramer has received thousands of dollars in donations from the owner of North Dakota-based Fisher Industries and the CEO's family, according to campaign finance records.

“This is a woefully inadequate response and not what I was promised by the White House as a condition for releasing my hold on the confirmation of the nominee for the Federal Procurement Officer,” Cramer wrote in an email, copying others at OMB, the White House and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to The Post.

“The fact that you all claim secrecy without citing statute makes me very suspicious,” he wrote. “I have decided to stay in DC another day and would like to see General Semonite in my office tomorrow.”

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the top official at the Army Corps, reportedly briefed Cramer in his office Friday, after which Cramer released a statement vowing to hold the military engineers “accountable.”

“We received an update on wall construction and the bidding process, as well as a number of documents and the answers to questions we requested from the Army Corps,” the statement said. “I believe we have their attention and are in a position to succeed.”

President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE deputized Senator Cramer to work with the Army Corps to ensure their process is fair, transparent, and delivers the best possible deal for the American people,” he added, saying the president has bestowed on him special responsibilities to oversee the directing of $3.5 billion in Pentagon funds to the construction of a border wall.

Cramer told the Post in an email that he’d put the hold on Wooten “to get the nominee to agree to reforming [the Army Corps] procurement process,” adding that he did not buy claims that the contracts could not be shared with him because of the private information.

“I can know where every submarine in the oceans are,” Cramer said in a separate email. “A simple non disclosure is sufficient for a member of Congress. The fact they won’t share it is concerning.”

Cramer blasted the Post after the story was published, maintaining that he was solely seeking transparency.

“I should be surprised, but am not, that WaPo would attack me for seeking transparency from an agency issuing billions worth of federal contracts rather than being suspicious of the mole inside the agency using them to detract attention from said agency’s procurement processes,” he tweeted.