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Trump team goes before US Senate for confirmation

world Updated: Jan 08, 2017 22:12 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Washington, Hindustan Times
Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump's choice for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions with a Senate member,(AFP)

Amita Swadhin, an Indian American genderqueer activist and survivor of sexual abuse, will be among witnesses testifying at a US Senate hearing starting on Tuesday to confirm Jeff Sessions as president-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general.

Swadhin is being fielded by Democrats, who are expected to subject some of Trump’s nominees to close scrutiny. Five of the nominees are up for confirmation this week, including those for state, Rex Tillerson, and CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Swadhin was sexually abused by her father for eight years till she was 12. She reported him to authorities the next year and later came out as genderqueer and founded Mirror Memoirs, which helps child abuse survivors among LGBTQs of colour.

The LGBTQ community has opposed Sessions’ nomination as “deeply disturbing” and his record of voting as a senator against same-sex marriage and related issues will be prosecuted aggressively by Democrats over two days of hearing.

But Sessions and all other Trump nominees are expected to be cleared by a Republican-controlled Senate, though Democrats have seemed determined to not roll over, and have called for slowing down the process.

They have sought time to adequately vet the nominees, their tax records and conflicts of interest for those leaving behind but not severing ties to their businesses that will continue to deal with the government and will be impacted by its policies.

The Office of Government Ethics, which monitors and implements the government’s ethics programme on the executive branch, has said that its review process for several of the nominees has not been completed and more time was needed.

Democrats are saying Republicans are trying to “jam through” the confirmation process. Republicans, on the other hand, have argued, they are only trying to ensure Trump has as many of his nominees as possible confirmed by the time he assumes office.

First to go are Sessions and homeland security secretary nominee General John Kelly on Tuesday. Sessions’ will continue for one more day, going into Wednesday when five more nominees will go before their respective committees.

These will be Exxon CEO Tillerson, whose hearing will be followed very closely around the world as the man who will represent and execute Trump’s foreign policy vision and initiatives.

The rest will include Congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated to head the CIA; billionaire Betsy DeVos for education; billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce and fast-food chain owner Andrew Puzder for labour.

The other nominees, including Nikki Haley, the Indian American governor of South Carolina nominated ambassador to the United Nations, and General James Mattis are expected to come up for the confirmation hearings next week.