The first week of Senate confirmation hearings is getting underway amid news that President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will join the White House senior staff in an unpaid advisory role.
Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump, is a close confidant of the president-elect’s and will work with Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon to accomplish the Trump agenda, an announcement stated. But his presence in the senior ranks of Trump’s administration is raising questions about Kushner’s status under a federal anti-nepotism law and about how he will manage potential conflicts of interest involving his real estate business.
Although Kushner’s attorney said his client is prepared to resign and divest substantial assets, ethics experts predicted his White House role could prompt “interesting litigation” to see whether the anti-nepotism law applies.
By the time you read this, a confirmation hearing might already be underway for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to spend two days considering his nomination. Tuesday’s hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. and will include testimony from Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Later in the day, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will consider the nomination of retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly, the only witness, will appear before the panel starting at 3:30 p.m.
PAUL RYAN, TRUMP ADVISERS TALK TAX REFORM
Monday evening marked the beginning of a process that will consume substantial attention during Trump’s administration if it succeeds: overhauling the complicated U.S. tax system.
Top Trump advisers, including Bannon, Priebus and Kushner, met with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) in his Capitol Hill suite, in part to walk through the fundamentals of Ryan’s vision, The Post reported.
TILLERSON, MATTIS RECORDS UNDER SCRUTINY
Two of Trump’s highest-profile nominees — Rex Tillerson for secretary of stateand retired Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense — will be in the hot seat on Capitol Hill this week. And ahead of their questioning by senators, their backgrounds and professionals records are receiving fresh scrutiny.
Tillerson, who was until recently the chief executive of ExxonMobil, struck a deal in 2011 to obtain oil in Iraqi Kurdistan against the desire of the State Department, Missy Ryan and Steve Mufson report. Diplomats had sought to keep oil firms out of the region while a law governing oil investments made its way through Iraq’s parliament, and later chided ExxonMobil for its action. Tillerson will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
Mattis, meanwhile, was revealed to have received millions of dollars in incomesince leaving the military from speaking engagements and paid positions with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, defense contractor General Dynamics and a controversial blood-testing firm in Silicon Valley called Theranos. Details of his financial records were released by the Office of Government Ethics ahead of his confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee to be education secretary, will now have her confirmation hearing at 5 p.m. Jan. 17 instead of Wednesday. Her ethics report has not yet been made available; the same is true of three other nominees whose confirmation hearings were scheduled for this week.
Also, it was announced Tuesday that the hearing for Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), the nominee for CIA director, would be moved back one day, to Thursday. Reasons for the delay weren’t known for certain early Tuesday, but Democratic aides said pressure by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to stretch out the dates a bit more appeared to be working.