Hearings begin this week for Trump's cabinet picks

By Christie Zizo and Alberto Pimienta, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Monday, January 09, 2017, 9:49 PM EST

Starting Tuesday, the Senate will begin the process of vetting, questioning and confirming President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet secretary picks. 

On Tuesday, The Senate Judiciary Committee will start a 2-day hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who has been nominated for U.S. attorney general.

That will be followed by committee level hearings for five other cabinet nominees on Wednesday:

  • Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos
  • Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao
  • Homeland Security Secretary nominee Gen. John F. Kelly
  • CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas
  • Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson

The following committee level hearings will be held on Thursday:

  • Secretary of Defense nominee Gen. James Mattis
  • HUD Secretary nominee Dr. Ben Carson
  • Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross

Few of these hearings will be without some controversy. Last week Senate Democrats identified eight nominees "most troublesome," demanding two-day hearings for them, as well as making sure that all paperwork on background, tax returns and other disclosures have been turned in.

"They come, many of them, from enormous wealth," said Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York. "Many have vast holdings and stocks and very few have experience in government so they have not being appropriately vetted for something like a cabinet post before."

This week that will include Sessions, DeVos and Tillerson. 

"I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process," said OGE Director Walter Shaub, Jr.

Reports indicate four nominees have not filed their required disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics: Homeland Security pick General John Kelly, Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, Commerce Secretary pick Wilbur Ross and Housing Secretary Nominee Ben Carson.

The Trump team rejects the claim. 

"The fact is that there’s no reason," said incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. "It’s the first week of January. They have all the detail that they need. They have all the information that they need. It’s no different from any new administration coming in."

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican Majority Leader, has warned Democrats not to make trouble for these nominees, even though he himself demanded Cabinet nominees complete their paperwork before hearings during President Obama's first term. 

In 2009 when Democrats controlled the Senate, seven of President Obama's nominees were confirmed in one day.

McConnell believes everyone will be properly vetted and up to six or seven of the candidates will be in place by the time Trump is inaugurated.

Trump also predicted that all of his nominees will be confirmed.

Nevertheless the candidates will face tough questions over the next few weeks over business conflicts, past statements, controversial policies, ties to Russia and other foreign governments and other issues. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.