Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell his own 2009 letter on President Obama’s original nominations when he won his first election.
Schumer is trying to use McConnell’s own words against him in the looming confirmation fights over President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks. The New York Democrat said that he sent McConnell the exact letter McConnell sent to then Majority Leader Harry Reid on February 12, 2009.
“In 2009, then-Minority Leader McConnell sent then-Majority Leader Read a letter laying out his list of pre-requisites for time agreements on the floor for President Obama’s nominees,” he said from the Senate floor. “They are almost exactly what Democrats have requested.
McConnell sent the letter after many key Obama nominees, including his nominee for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had already been confirmed.
Schumer tweeted out an edited copy of the letter on Monday, which shows him crossing out the addressee and replacing it with McConnell, editing the opening salutation, and marking up McConnell’s signature and replacing it with his own.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 9, 2017
Among McConnell’s 2009 requirements are an ethics agreement letter and financial disclosures being submitted to a Senate committee before a hearing. Schumer’s move comes at the start of a week which the Senate is slated to hold confirmation hearings for at least nine of the President-elect’s picks. Democrats have criticized the schedule, arguing that Republicans are rushing to confirm Trump’s nominees without proper vetting.
The Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub wrote a letter to Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren stating that “as OGE’s Director, the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me.”
“This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews. More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.”
The OGE has released financial disclosures and ethics letters for five nominees that will get hearings this week. Those include Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson; Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions; CIA Director pick Rep. Mike Pompeo; Transportation Secretary and McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao; and the pick for head of the Pentagon, retired Marine General James Mattis.
For his part, McConnell pledged over the weekend that no nominee would get a full Senate vote before all of their paperwork has been submitted. On Monday, after a meeting with Trump, he said “everybody will be properly vetted as they have been in the past.”