Nets Hype ‘Confirmation Chaos,’ Dems Whining About ‘Head-Spinning’ Hearing Schedule

On Monday, all three network morning shows parroted Democrats’ complaints that confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees were being scheduled at too fast a pace and promoted fears that the President-elect’s picks may be plagued by scandals that had yet to be discovered.

At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer sounded the alarm: “Confirmation chaos. A jam-packed schedule of hearings for President-elect Trump's cabinet nominees this week. Democrats and Republicans already at war over them. Is it too many too soon?” In the report that followed minutes later, correspondent Kristen Welker announced: “The fireworks have already started. Democrats this morning demanding a delay in what they are calling an unprecedented number of confirmation hearings that they feel are being rushed through, but Republicans digging in.”

As the headline on screen declared a “Confirmation Showdown on Capitol Hill,” Welker recited liberal partisan talking points perfectly:

This morning, new battles brewing on Capitol Hill, a parade of nominees set to face confirmation hearings this week. First up, Jeff Sessions for attorney general, controversial for his record on civil rights and hardline immigration views. Now Democrats are crying foul, demanding a delay, arguing there are unfinished background checks and ethics reports.

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After playing a soundbite of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for the hearings to be pushed back, Welker complained that “Republicans aren't giving an inch.”

In a segment that followed, MSNBC host Steve Kornacki appeared on show to detail the criticism of Trump’s nominees:

And of course this is the one to circle on Tuesday, Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general. Actually, 30 years ago, he went before this same Senate committee for a federal judgeship. He was rejected because of allegations of racial insensitivity. Those issues expected to come out. If there are going to be fireworks this week, this is a place to look for it....Another one to circle, Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State. All the attention to Russia. All the concerns about that. Question here, do Republicans raise the issue of Russia with Rex Tillerson?...And of course, you’d also have Thursday, Wilbur Ross, Commerce. This issue of disclosure, financial disclosure, that’ll come up.

Lauer wondered: “The question is, will Democrats be joined by enough Republicans to stop any of these?” Kornacki replied: “The reason you look at Tillerson is you have Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, they're hawks on Russia, hawks on Putin. They don't like the signals Trump’s been sending. Do they take this nomination and make an example there?”

On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos fretted: “Trump's first cabinet nominees face confirmation hearings starting tomorrow, even though the Office of Government Ethics haven't completed all their reviews.” Correspondent Mary Bruce worried about the “dizzying sprint to get Trump's cabinet in place,” decrying: “A schedule so head-spinning some of the nominees haven't been fully vetted.”

Bruce added: “A top government ethics official warning it's putting undue pressure on investigators. Democrats want Republicans to slow it down. But Republicans aren't budging saying Democrats need to get over it.” She wrapped up the report: “Now, Democrats are voicing some serious concerns about several of the nominees but Trump's team is confident, they say all of them will be confirmed. And they're defending that busy schedule saying they simply want Trump's team to be ready to go on day one.”

CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King told viewers: “Many of the President-elect’s cabinet picks face a fight this week on Capitol Hill....Democrats and ethics investigators are criticizing the fast pace.” Correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted:

Senate Republicans packed so many confirmation hearings into one week, the staffers who vet their financial disclosures say they're overwhelmed. In a letter, the director of the Office of Government Ethics warned that the pace, quote, “has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.”

The headline on screen read: “Confirmation Challenges; Staffers Overwhelmed Vetting Trump Cabinet Picks.”

Cordes concluded: “Democrats say Republicans are trying to draw attention away from some of the more controversial nominees by scheduling multiple hearings on each day, including five on Wednesday. But, Norah, Republicans say there are simply a limited number of days on the Senate calendar and they're just trying to be expeditious.”

Here are excerpts of the January 9 coverage on the NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows:

Today
7:00 AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Confirmation chaos. A jam-packed schedule of hearings for President-elect Trump's cabinet nominees this week. Democrats and Republicans already at war over them. Is
it too many too soon?

7:12 AM ET SEGMENT:

MATT LAUER: Man, did you pick a week to come?

MEREDITH VIEIRA: I know.

LAUER: This is really busy. We’ve got a ton of confirmation hearings, we’ve got the President addressing the nation, we’ve got the President-elect holding a news conference.

VIEIRA: First news conference, yeah.

LAUER: A lot to keep track of. Kristin Welker will do that for us. Kristen, good morning to you.

KRISTEN WELKER: Hi, Matt, good morning to you. You are absolutely right. The fireworks have already started. Democrats this morning demanding a delay in what they are calling an unprecedented number of confirmation hearings that they feel are being rushed through, but Republicans digging in. All while the current commander-in-chief is preparing for his final address, a chance to defend his legacy and say goodbye one more time.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Confirmation Showdown on Capitol Hill; Hearings Begin as Trump Dismisses Russian Hacking]

This morning, new battles brewing on Capitol Hill, a parade of nominees set to face confirmation hearings this week. First up, Jeff Sessions for attorney general, controversial for his record on civil rights and hardline immigration views. Now Democrats are crying foul, demanding a delay, arguing there are unfinished background checks and ethics reports.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: We are gonna stand firm that there should not be hearings until the office of government ethics gives that examination, issues a report, and then there should be time to question these witnesses. Not six in one day.

WELKER: But Republicans aren't giving an inch.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: The Democrats are frustrated that they lost the election. So all of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustration at having not only lost the White House but having lost the Senate.

(...)


GMA
7:07 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: More now on the Trump transition. Just 11 days until the inauguration and pace really picking up this week. Trump's first cabinet nominees face confirmation hearings starting tomorrow, even though the office of government ethics haven't completed all their reviews. And our correspondent Mary Bruce has all the details from Capitol Hill.

MARY BRUCE: With just 11 days to go, this morning, a dizzying sprint to get Trump's cabinet in place. Just this week alone, eight of Trump's picks are headed for confirmation hearings. A schedule so head-spinning some of the nominees haven't been fully vetted. A top government ethics official warning it's putting undue pressure on investigators. Democrats want Republicans to slow it down. But Republicans aren't budging saying Democrats need to get over it.

MCCONNELL:All of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustration. Having not only lost the White House but having lost the Senate. I understand that but we need to sort of grow up here and get past that.

BRUCE: But the Senate Republican leader has promised no confirmation votes until the vetting is complete. In the meantime, the flurry of hearings begins Tuesday. First up, Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. And General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security. And on Wednesday, more nominees will take the hot seat including Rex Tillerson, Trump's controversial pick for Secretary of State.

Now, Democrats are voicing some serious concerns about several of the nominees but Trump's team is confident, they say all of them will be confirmed. And they're defending that busy schedule saying they simply want Trump's team to be ready to go on day one. Robin.

ROBERTS: Alright, Mary, thank you.


CBS This Morning
7:09 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Many of the President-elect’s cabinet picks face a fight this week on Capitol Hill. Senate committees will question nominees tomorrow for Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security. Five committees will meet on Wednesday for nomination hearings. Four others have scheduled hearings for Thursday. Democrats and ethics investigators are criticizing the fast pace. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill, she's covering this transition. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Gayle. You've heard of debate prep, well, confirmation prep is a lot like that. These nominees have spent hours in mock hearings trying to anticipate every possible question, crafting their answers, boning up on policy because many of them are more familiar with the boardroom than a hearing room.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Confirmation Challenges; Staffers Overwhelmed Vetting Trump Cabinet Picks]

After wooing senators for weeks, Mr. Trump's nominees are about to face a wall of skeptical Democrats, and Republicans with some questions, too. Senator John McCain met with Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: He satisfied some of my concerns. I have additional concerns.

CORDES: In addition to Tillerson, the group of nominees testifying this week includes two billionaires, two members of Congress, two retired generals, and a doctor turned presidential candidate. In fact, Senate Republicans packed so many confirmation hearings into one week, the staffers who vet their financial disclosures say they're overwhelmed. In a letter, the director of the Office of Government Ethics warned that the pace, quote, “has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.” Senate Democrat Cory Booker –

SEN. CORY BOOKER [FACE THE NATION]: These are people who are billionaires and have vast holdings, vast wealth, and the American people have a right to know if they're going to be entering the offices with conflicts of interest.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL [FACE THE NATION]: We need to sort of grow up here and get past that.

CORDES: On Face the Nation, the Senate’s Republican leader said Democrats have overblown the problem.

MCCONNELL: We confirmed seven cabinet appointments the day President Obama was sworn in. We didn't like most if them either, but he won the election.

CORDES: Democrats say Republicans are trying to draw attention away from some of the more controversial nominees by scheduling multiple hearings on each day, including five on Wednesday. But, Norah, Republicans say there are simply a limited number of days on the Senate calendar and they're just trying to be expeditious.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Alright, Nancy, thank you so much.

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