On today's BradCast, a few of Donald Trump's nominees for top cabinet slots may be facing trouble, as Senate hearings continue this week in the U.S. Senate, preparations are finalized (and changed) for the Inauguration, and President Obama issues last minute pardons and commutations. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First today, as we go to air, breaking news on Obama's merciful commutation of the unprecedented 35-year prison sentence for U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning and a number of additional last-minute pardons and commutations.
Then, as Senate confirmation hearings resume today for Donald Trump's nominees, including for Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and Interior Dept. Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), we look at concerns about both of them. Billionaire DeVos, for example, has given, quite literally, millions of dollars in donations to Republicans and GOP causes over the years, including tens of thousands to the GOP Senators set to vote on her nomination in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today. And, in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders pressed Zinke on whether or not he believes, like Trump, that climate change is "a hoax".
Then, we're joined by financial journalist and award-winning author David Dayen, to discuss several Trump nominees whose confirmations could now be in jeopardy, including the President-elect's picks to head up Health and Human Services (Rep. Tom Price), Labor (billionaire Andrew Puzder), Treasury (billionaire Steve Mnuchin) and Commerce (billionaire Wilbur Ross). We also discuss Dayen's recent big scoop at The Intercept on a memo detailing "widespread misconduct" (including fraud) at Mnuchin's mortgage bank OneWest and CA's then Democratic Attorney General, now U.S. Senator Kamala Harris' failure to further investigate or prosecute, despite recommendations from her own staff to do so.
Whether or not some of those nominations fall apart, Dayen notes a "supreme irony" in the both the election of Trump and the nominations of guys like Mnuchin and Ross, both profiteers of the "Great Foreclosure Machine".
"There was never any accountability for that. The Obama Administration famously kind of walked off the field in terms of prosecuting bankers and financial institution executives who instigated [the 2007 financial crisis]," argues Dayen. "And then who gets placed into power in the aftermath is the same people whose reputations have been rehabilitated effectively, who weren't given any sanctions for the actions that they took. And, in addition, the fact that there was no accountability created this sort of broken social fabric that helped lead to the rise of populist figures like Donald Trump in the first place."
"There are a lot of ways you can look at this," he tells me. "But there's no question that that failure to get the accountability that the American people wanted in the wake of the financial crisis played a role in the actions that occurred on Election Day 2016, and now those same people who profited off that neglect will be in charge."
Finally, as public pressure builds against some of those nominations, pressure has also led to a number of changes in plans for this week's Inauguration...
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