U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have given the White House nothing to worry about as the chamber begins the process of confirming President Donald Trump's cabinet appointees. Not only have Iowa's senators voted for the three cabinet members approved so far, they have yet to voice serious concern about any nominee.
Two of the least controversial cabinet appointees gained Senate approval within hours of Trump's inauguration on January 20: James Mattis for secretary of defense and John Kelly for director of Homeland Security. Only one senator (Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand) voted against confirming Mattis, because she opposes the waiver allowing him to serve in the cabinet less than seven years after leaving the military. Only eleven Democrats voted against confirming Kelly.
Mike Pompeo's nomination as director of the Central Intelligence Agency drew more opposition when it came to the Senate floor on January 23. Thirty Democrats, Republican Rand Paul, and independent Bernie Sanders voted against Pompeo's nomination, largely over concerns about his positions on torture and government surveillance.
As dangerous as Pompeo could be to the rule of law as it relates to intelligence gathering and interrogation techniques, Trump's deceptive, off-topic, self-centered speech on Saturday at CIA headquarters knocked Pompeo down the list of things that terrify me about the coming years. Robin Wright explained for the New Yorker why "Trump's vainglorious affront to the CIA" horrified intelligence community professionals. According to NPR's national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, former CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall has said that agency staff are worried they might not be able to trust Trump enough to reveal the source of unflattering information about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This thread is for any comments related to Trump's cabinet or out-of-control narcissistic rages, which require his advisers to serve as glorified babysitters keeping the president from spending too much time watching television. I enclose below official statements from Ernst on the first cabinet confirmations and from Grassley on his meeting with Kelly earlier this month. Both senators have studiously avoided any public comments about Trump's child-like temperament or sometimes contradictory outbursts on matters of national security.
From Senator Joni Ernst's January 23 press release:
“I’m pleased the Senate confirmed Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Congressman Pompeo understands that the threats of ISIS and other radical groups continue to grow, and our nation faces increasing state threats like an aggressive Russia and Iran. His military experience and service on the House Intelligence Committee gives him the necessary background to lead members of our intelligence community as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I look forward to working with him to ensure the defense of our homeland and our interests abroad.”
Ernst press release from January 20:
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) issued the following statement after the United States Senate confirmed its first two nominees for President Trump’s cabinet: retired General James Mattis to be the Secretary of the Department of Defense, and retired General John Kelly to be the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
“For far too long, America has led from behind; however, today, we see our nation heading in a new direction.
“Secretary of Defense is a position with immense responsibility, and I am pleased that today, we have confirmed the right leader for the position, General Mattis. In both my meeting with him and at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Mattis made clear he understands the bigger picture and the ever-evolving threats our nation is facing. He will lead with strength and fortitude. Specifically, I was glad to hear General Mattis agreed to work with me to combat military sexual assault, and counter the rise of ISIS in areas like Southeast Asia.
“Additionally, after having the opportunity to meet with General Kelly and discuss my priorities, I know he will serve our nation thoughtfully and with unwavering dedication. From pursuing Sarah’s Law to strengthening our security at home, he has vowed to protect the sanctity of our nation and its citizens. Importantly, General Kelly committed that he and his department will lead where the prior administration has failed.
“I am grateful we were able move on these critical positions within the new administration on day one, and I look forward to working with and General Mattis and General Kelly in their new roles.”
Press release from Senator Chuck Grassley, January 13:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley made the following statement after meeting with General John Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Homeland Security. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over immigration policy which mainly falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security.
“I appreciate General Kelly meeting with me. It was clear from our conversation that he understands the critical importance border security plays in our overall homeland security, especially with respect to the flow of illegal immigration and dangerous narcotics across the border into our country. I expressed my strong appreciation for whistleblowers and my intent to continue oversight of government agencies so as to hold them accountable for taxpayers.
“We also discussed a lot of issues surrounding the flawed immigration enforcement policies that are currently being employed and how the incoming administration can help ensure that criminal immigrants are not released onto the streets of American communities and are deported. I mentioned the case involving Sarah Root, and the need to do more to get drunk drivers who are here illegally off our streets.
“In addition, we talked about new proposed regulations published by the Department today that would go a long way to restoring the EB-5 immigrant visa program to the way Congress intended it to be used: to help bring much-needed jobs and capital to rural and economically distressed areas. I expressed my strong desire that these rules be kept in place and allowed to go forward to ensure that this program fulfills its original intent.”