Senate Armed Service Committee ranking member Sen. James Inhofe talks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol February 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.
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Senator accidentally speaks his mind about Trump’s cabinet picks

The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/9/17, 11:26 PM ET

Trump skimps on crucial vetting of nominees

Rachel Maddow looks at the important role of vetting in the selection of past cabinet officials and notes the concerned of the Office of Government Ethics about how the Trump team has barged ahead with nominations, heedless of the vetting process.
As President Obama’s cabinet nominees were advancing in 2009, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a letter to Democratic leaders, insisting among other things that senators have a chance to review the nominees’ FBI background checks and the Office of Government Ethics’ vetting letters.

Now, however, it’s Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees who are under consideration – despite the fact that FBI background checks and Office of Government Ethics scrutiny haven’t been completed for many of the president-elect’s picks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the cheeky step yesterday of sending Mitch McConnell his own 2009 letter yesterday, with a different date.

The point, of course, is that Senate Republicans seem to have a very different set of standards for Trump’s nominees than they did for Obama’s nominees. The Huffington Post found one GOP senator who was surprisingly candid on the matter.
When The Huffington Post asked [Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe] on Monday night if this same standard of disclosing foreign payments should apply to Trump’s Cabinet nominees, he said it shouldn’t.

“So it’s different now because it’s Trump?” we asked.

“That’s just right,” Inhofe said.

“That’s right?” we asked to clarify.

“Yeah,” he said.
The disclosure question arose because Inhofe signed onto a 2013 letter demanding “unprecedented disclosures” from former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), at the time Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, because Senate Republicans were concerned about “the potential for foreign conflicts of interest.”

Inhofe seems to have no comparable concerns now – because it’s “different.”

The Oklahoma Republican’s spokesperson tried to walk back the comments soon after, telling the Huffington Post that Inhofe doesn’t support “a double standard,” even though he’d just said the exact opposite.

This appears to be one of those classic moments in which a politician makes a mistake by accidentally saying what he genuinely believes.

As for the schedule of confirmation hearings, there were a couple of changes overnight. Here’s what to expect over the next few days:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions – Jan. 10-11
Homeland Security: John Kelly – Jan. 10-11
State: Rex Tillerson – Jan 11 (may go into Jan 12)
Transportation: Elaine Chao – Jan. 11
CIA: Mike Pompeo – Jan. 12
Labor: Andrew Puzder – Jan. 12
Defense: James Mattis – Jan. 12
HUD: Ben Carson – Jan. 12

Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and GOP megadonor, is Trump’s choice to become Secretary of Education, but the complexity of her finances has led to a delay in her upcoming hearing.

Cabinet and James Inhofe

Senator accidentally speaks his mind about Trump's cabinet picks