'Murder Boards' Prep Trump's Cabinet Picks for Hearings

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has been drilling his Cabinet picks for weeks ahead of the confirmation hearing blitz set to begin on Capitol Hill this week.

Cabinet nominees have sat for a combined 30 practice hearings in a mock hearing room the transition team constructed in their offices just minutes from the White House.

There, in a space designed to resemble the cavernous committee hearing rooms on Capitol Hill, Trump's Cabinet picks have spent more than 70 hours answering hundreds of questions from volunteers posing as senators in intense sessions known as "murder boards."

Trump's picks have various levels of experience on Capitol Hill -- Gen. John Kelly, Trump's nominee for secretary of homeland security, has been confirmed by the Senate five times, while others have never appeared before the Senate.

But all of the nominees have prepared for four lines of inquiry: questions on issues of jurisdiction, parochial home-state concerns, Trump's proposed policies, and their own positions and experiences.

They've also held more than 300 meetings on Capitol Hill with both Republican and Democratic senators.

Democrats have targeted eight of Trump's nominees, calling for greater financial and personal disclosures, as well as additional hearings ahead of confirmation. While there's little they can do in the minority to prevent Trump's picks from moving forward, they could drag out the confirmation process on the Senate floor for weeks following Trump's inauguration.

They also plan to question the picks about how they would implement some of the more controversial proposals Trump rolled out during his presidential campaign.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, Trump's attorney general nominee, and Kelly will be the first nominees to face confirmation hearings. Democrats are expected to question both nominees Tuesday on Trump's comments on deportation and banning Muslim immigration.

Republicans are confident that Trump's nominees will be cleared through the Senate with support from both parties.

Incoming Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump has an "unbelievable group of all-star nominees," and said they will all be confirmed with support from Republicans and Democrats.

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