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

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first 100 days

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

    processing...

    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.

    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.

    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)

    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:

    __

    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    'This Is Not a Joke': Watch the Botched Best Picture Reveal

    [NATL - DO NOT REPURPOSE VID, RESTRICTIONS BELOW] 'This Is Not a Joke': Watch the Botched Best Picture Announcement at the 2017 Oscars
    Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" — not, as it turned out, "La La Land" — won best picture at the Academy Awards in a historic Oscar upset and an unprecedented fiasco that saw one winner swapped for another while the "La La Land" producers were in mid-speech.
    (Published 6 hours ago)

    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.

    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.

    __

    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.

    Now in China, Bao Bao Starts Quarantine

    [NATL] Now in China, Bao Bao Starts Quarantine
    American-born panda Bao Bao has begun settling into her new home in southwest China, where she will eventually join a breeding program after a period of quarantine.
    (Published Monday, Feb. 27, 2017)

    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.

    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.

    Pence to Conservatives: 'This Is Our Time'

    [NATL] Pence to Conservatives: 'This Is Our Time'
    Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday evening in National Harbor, Maryland. It was the ninth time that Pence has spoken at the gathering, but the first in his new role as vice president.
    (Published Friday, Feb. 24, 2017)

    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.

    __

    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.

    TV Snooping: What Your Tube Knows

    [NATL] TV Snooping: What Your Tube Knows
    Similar to internet ads that follow you while you are shopping, smart TVs can snoop on what shows you watch, what you search for, or even your daily television patterns.
    (Published Friday, Feb. 24, 2017)

    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.

    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.

    ___

    Good Samaritans Save Boy From Sea

    [DFW-NATL] Good Samaritans Save Boy From Sea
    A South Korean family visiting Hawaii is grateful for the Good Samaritans who helped rescue their young son from rough waves on Oahu's North Shore.
    (Published Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017)

    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.

    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.

    'Father of the Selfie' Takes Self Portraits for 3 Decades

    [NATL] 'Father of the Selfie' Takes Self Portraits Every Day for 3 Decades
    Photographer Karl Baden takes self portraits for different reasons that any other person might. His life-long photography project "Every Day" was meant to document his aging, with the first photo taken on Feb. 23, 1987 three decades ago and a daily self portrait taken ever since. Baden, the "Father of the Selfie," says he intends to do the project for the rest of his life.
    (Published Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017)