Things to Know About Trump's Cabinet Confirmation Hearings | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Donald Trump's First 100 Days in Office

Donald Trump's First 100 Days in Office

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Things to Know About Trump's Cabinet Confirmation Hearings

By holding hearings before Inauguration Day, the Senate can move quickly once Trump takes the oath of office

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
    Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate has sole authority to confirm a president's nominee to serve in the Cabinet. And while President-elect Donald Trump can't officially nominate anyone until he becomes president on Jan. 20, the Senate is getting an early start this week on his choices for several top jobs in his administration.

    The action began Tuesday with Trump's pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a longtime senator from Alabama, and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, named by Trump to head the Department of Homeland Security.

    Senate Hearings to Start for Trump Cabinet Nominees

    [NATL] Senate Hearings to Start for Trump Cabinet Nominees
    Senate hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet appointees start Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, a day after Trump reportedly named son-in-law Jared Kushner as his senior advisor.
    (Published Monday, Jan. 9, 2017)

    By holding hearings before Inauguration Day, the Senate can move quickly once Trump takes the oath of office and formally submits his Cabinet nominees for approval.

    Republicans have a narrow majority in the Senate, meaning the hearings are unlikely to make or break nominations. Most, if not all, will go through.

    But the hearings offer senators an opportunity to explore the backgrounds of Trump's team and plans for the agencies they will soon lead. For Democrats, the hearings offer a high-profile stage to challenge Trump's proposals.

    Here's a look at this week's confirmation hearings:

    New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    [NATL] New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    The city of New Orleans will remove four statues of Confederate-era events and figures in an effort to divorce itself from symbols that some see as problematic. The first statue, the Liberty Place Monument, was taken down early Monday morning. 

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

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    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    The lead-off confirmation hearing was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the most conservative members of the Senate and a pick that has generated some of the strongest Democratic opposition.

    Sessions promised that as America's top law enforcement officer, he would crack down on illegal immigration, gun violence and "radical Islamic terrorism." He said he opposes barring Muslims from entering the United States, a Trump campaign proposal from which the Republican later backed away.

    Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    [NATL-DFW] Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    Body camera footage shows a Florida police officer being dragged by a driver attempting to flee a traffic stop.

    Police said Frank Wetzel, 61, was pulled over after blowing through a stop sign. Police said he started fidgeting with something next to him, making the officer suspicious. He was allegedly later found with a machete and handgun.

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    Sessions also promised to recuse himself from any investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, citing comments he'd made during the campaign. The FBI concluded last year that Clinton should not face criminal charges for using a private email system while serving as secretary of state.

    Democrats have questioned Sessions' commitment to civil rights and oppose his hard line position on immigration. One Democratic senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, plans to testify against Sessions — a rare instance of a senator testifying against a colleague seeking a Cabinet post.

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    HOMELAND SECURITY

    Trump's pick for Homeland Security secretary isn't controversial, unlike the issues he'll potentially face in office.

    Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is well-regarded by Democrats and Republicans alike and his confirmation is almost assured. He joined the Marines in 1970, served three tours in Iraq and is the former head of U.S. Southern Command, which works closely with Homeland Security on issues that include drug smuggling and illegal immigration. His son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan.

    As Homeland Security secretary, Kelly would have a key role in advancing Trump's agenda on immigration and border security, including the president-elect's promise to build a wall on the Mexican border and to deport millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

    Kelly told lawmakers that preventing the "illegal movement of people and things" would be his top priority if confirmed.

    Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    [NATL-BAY] Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    One day after an American Airlines flight attendant became entangled in an altercation with passengers, his employer is investigating whether or not he was out of line. Thom Jensen reports.

    (Published Sunday, April 23, 2017)

    Republicans and Democrats came away from a confirmation hearing Tuesday singing Kelly's praises.

    Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said she was comforted and confident he will be a moderating influence on President-elect Trump.

    Kelly would be the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security, which includes agencies that protect the president, respond to disasters, enforce immigration laws, protect the nation's coastlines, fight drug smuggling and secure air travel.

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    Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    [NATL] Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    When you think of a drive-thru, fast food probably comes to mind. But what about marijuana? Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru in Parachute, Colorado, is the first of its kind. After nearly a year of preparation, the drive-thru pot shop opened for business on 4/20. 

    "Their timing couldn't have been better in my opinion, I mean everybody wants to celebrate," said Kyle Steele, a customer at the drive-thru.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    WEAKENED DEMOCRATS

    Most, if not all, of Trump's picks are expected to win confirmation. While Republicans only hold a 52-48 advantage in the Senate, Democrats changed the Senate's filibuster rules in 2013. That means Trump's choice can win confirmation on a simple majority vote along party lines.

    Still, Democrats are pressing for more information about several of the nominees who are some of the wealthiest people in America. Said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: "So many of them are billionaires and corporate titans with complex financing holdings that raise the possibility of conflicts of interest, which requires careful scrutiny."

    The independent Office of Government Ethics, responsible for ensuring that nominees avoid any conflicts of interest, told the Senate late last week that in some cases it hadn't received even draft financial disclosure reports for nominees slated to appear before the Senate this week.

    Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    [NATL] Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    Just before midnight Thursday, Arkansas announced it had executed death row inmate Ledell Lee. He is the first of four inmates scheduled to die before the end of the month when a crucial lethal injection drug is set to expire. A protester and a spokesperson for the governor reacted to the controversial execution.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    The confirmation hearings for education secretary Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, and Andrew Puzder, a fast-food executive and choice for labor secretary, were both postponed on Tuesday.

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    THE REST OF THE WEEK

    On Wednesday, hearings will be held for Trump's picks for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and transportation secretary, Elaine Chao. Also, a second day of hearings is planned for Sessions.

    Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    [NATL] Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was officially pushed out at the network. This comes after O'Reilly had paid out more than $13 million to five different women over allegations of sexual harassment. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said, "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel." O'Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

    (Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017)

    On Thursday, hearings are scheduled for Mike Pompeo for CIA director, James Mattis for defense secretary, Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary and Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development secretary.

    Mattis retired in 2013 as a Marine Corps general. Because he has been out of uniform for fewer than seven years, the minimum required by law for a former service member to serve as defense secretary, his nomination will require new legislation to override the prohibition. Congress is expected to approve such a waiver law.