During her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, President Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, plans on testifying that she will not reinstate waterboarding as a means of gathering intelligence.
Haspel has spent more than 30 years with the CIA, and she's under scrutiny for her work in 2002 at a "black site" in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded, as well as a 2005 cable where she wrote that videos showing waterboarding should be destroyed. The CIA has not released any details regarding her role at the prison.
In her prepared remarks, Haspel plans on calling the post-9/11 era "a tumultuous time," NPR reports, and she will offer her "personal commitment, clearly and without reservation that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program." Catherine Garcia
The Senate voted 60-38 on Thursday to confirm Alexander Acosta, a former U.S. attorney, as labor secretary.
The 48-year-old is the only Latino in President Trump's Cabinet. Trump's first choice for the job, former CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after it became clear he would not get enough votes for confirmation. The labor secretary enforces laws involving the workplace and unions. Catherine Garcia
Democratic senator forces Trump nominee to admit Trump's inauguration crowd was smaller than Obama's
The Senate confirmation hearing for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) took a rather odd turn Tuesday when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proceeded to pull up photographs comparing the inauguration crowds of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.
"Which crowd is larger?" Merkley asked Mulvaney, Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
"Senator, if you would allow me to give the disclaimer that I'm not really sure how this ties to OMB, I'll be happy to answer your question, which is from that picture it does appear that the [Obama crowd] is bigger than the [Trump crowd]," Mulvaney replied.
Merkley then got to his point: "The president disagreed … he said, 'It's a lie' … The reason I'm raising this is because budget often contains varied deceptions. You and I talked in my office about the 'magic asterisk.' This is an example of where the president's team — on something very simple and straightforward — wants to embrace a fantasy rather than a reality." Watch the full line of inquiry below. Jeva Lange
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 24, 2017
OMB nominee advises Senate committee not to 'read too much into' his description of Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme'
At his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), President Trump's nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, clarified that he does not think Social Security or Medicare are "unconstitutional" — despite his vote in the South Carolina Senate in 2009 declaring both programs exactly that. He also reassured the Senate Budget Committee that his description of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" was simply a way of explaining the program's cash flow. "I wouldn't read too much into [my] description of it as a Ponzi scheme," Mulvaney said.
However, while Mulvaney said he would not "be arguing to the president of the United States" that either of those programs are "unconstitutional," he did indicate he would push Trump to make changes to entitlement programs, which Trump has promised not to cut. "The only thing I know to do is tell the president the truth," Mulvaney said, arguing that the programs are not sustainable and that funds would soon run dry; he suggested means-testing Medicare or raising the retirement age for Social Security.
Even before Mulvaney's hearing began, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was tweeting his concerns, suggesting Mulvaney's nomination meant Trump "doesn't intend to not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid":
It seems to me that Rep. Mulvaney is way, way out of touch with what the American people want and what President Trump campaigned on.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2017
Watch Sanders question Mulvaney below. Becca Stanek
— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) January 24, 2017
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), faces his second day of grilling before the Senate on Tuesday over his nomination for health and human services secretary. While Price has already faced intense scrutiny from Democrats, the hearing Tuesday was briefly interrupted when Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) went off topic to ask Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) during a transition, "Did you really wink at me and smile? Bless your heart."
Sen. Pat Roberts at Price hearing: "Did you really wink at me and smile?" https://t.co/pgxDklfMV2
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) January 24, 2017
Roberts previously needled Wyden at Steven Mnuchin's Senate confirmation hearing, suggesting the senator take a Valium.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 24, 2017
Never let anyone tell you Senate confirmation hearings are dull! Jeva Lange
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on President Donald Trump's secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, on Monday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) could potentially upset a smooth nomination process if he decides to vote "no" on Tillerson; while Rubio's no vote wouldn't concretely stop Tillerson from being confirmed, it would send him to the Senate floor without a positive recommendation, an "embarrassing rebuke to Trump just as his presidency gets underway," Time writes.
Rubio stood up to Tillerson on the issue of Russia and human rights earlier this month, but other top Republican senators, including John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), have, after some deliberation, announced their support of the former ExxonMobil executive. Jeva Lange
President-elect Donald Trump's treasury secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin, did not necessarily find friendly faces among each and every Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. During Mnuchin's hearing Thursday, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) repeatedly pressed Mnuchin, specifically on the issue of the tax cut that comes with repealing ObamaCare.
Mnuchin did not directly commit to an answer: "I haven't been as involved in the 'repeal and replace,'" he said, when asked who would benefit from the tax cut that would come with repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Mnuchin ducks on ObamaCare: "I haven't been as involved in the repeal and replace."
— Pete Schroeder (@peteschroeder) January 19, 2017
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) also pressed Mnuchin on whether any taxpayer making under $200,000 a year would see even "a dime" of the ObamaCare tax cuts. Mnuchin admitted most of the ObamaCare taxes currently in place are on the wealthy — who would then stand to benefit if they were repealed — but asserted that tax reform "overall" will be scrutinized. Jeva Lange
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) held nothing back while grilling President-elect Donald Trump's treasury secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin, on Thursday. McCaskill used the entirety of her time to press Mnuchin on the issue of Trump's potential conflicts of interest due to his global business, wondering aloud if Trump would fire the government ethics officer in order to install someone more favorable to his organization's interests.
At one point during the questioning, McCaskill asked: "Do you agree your boss is famous for firing people?"
Mnuchin, cornered, admitted: "Well, he has a show about it."
— Peter Stevenson (@PeterWStevenson) January 19, 2017
McCaskill continued, asking Mnuchin, "Isn't it true that a lot of [Trump's] debt is held by foreign interests?" Mnuchin deflected: "I don't know, I've just read it in the papers."
"Do you think you should know that, as someone who runs the committee on foreign investments, if we're talking about the commander-in-chief?" McCaskill pressed.
Mnuchin mostly agreed: "I think you have a valid point," he said. Jeva Lange
I appreciate that Mr Mnuchin recognized the validity of my ?s about foreign investment in Trump's business as relates to nat'l security.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) January 19, 2017