Senate to consider Trump nominees who haven't been fully vetted

The sun begins to set behind the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The sun begins to set behind the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
It's been about six weeks since Election Day, and Donald Trump's cabinet selections are still coming together, slowly but surely. The president-elect seems to enjoy making a spectacle of the process, but looking past the drama in the Trump Tower lobby, the truth is choosing the right nominees takes time -- and the vetting process alone can be quite slow.But that assumes Trump and his team are scrutinizing his choices closely, which may not be entirely true. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that some of the president-elect's picks "have been named without extensive reviews of their background and financial records."

In many cases, Mr. Trump has announced his prospective nominees without requiring a review of extensive paperwork about their background and financial records, including tax returns, people familiar with the process said.That leaves open the possibility that the first officials to study such material will be the Senate committees that next year will conduct the confirmation hearings, a process that can be grueling and disqualifying.

The article added that Trump, in some cases, is making decisions "based on gut instinct and his chemistry with people." At times, he's even "revealed the name of a nominee before his transition team was ready for the announcement."Maybe this will work out fine, but to put it mildly, Trump is taking a real risk -- which he may regret next year.Ben LaBolt, who worked on nomination picks for the Obama administration in 2008, told the Journal, "You will face some of the toughest investigative reporters in the country, some of the toughest investigators on committees, a law-enforcement background check, and an opposition party that is unlikely to acquiesce to the agenda of the nominee. That makes for a very high-wire act."In case this isn't already obvious, the point of the vetting process is to determine whether or not the person is qualified for the post, identify potential trouble areas from the person's background, and come up with credible defenses for controversies that may arise during the Senate confirmation process.If the WSJ reporting is accurate, however, Team Trump, at least with some selections, prefers to wing it. Trump didn't see the point in allowing his staff to research his own background during his candidacy, and apparently he's applying the same indifference to his cabinet choices.It worked out well for Trump -- Americans elected him president, overlooking his many scandals -- but Senate scrutiny of his nominees will probably be considerably more arduous.File this one away for early next year. We know nearly everyone who Trump will send to the Senate as his cabinet nominees, but we have no idea how many of those nominees will make it through the confirmation process.