Trump: 'There's Never Been a Cabinet Like This'; Dems Are 'Going Absolutely Crazy'

By Susan Jones | January 20, 2017 | 6:29am EST
President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania join Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen at a black tie reception at Union Station in Washington on Thursday night, Jan. 19, 2017. (Screen grab)

( - Hours after the leader of Senate Democrats slammed Donald Trump's Cabinet as an ethically-challenged "swamp Cabinet," Donald Trump defended his picks and suggested that Democrats "are going crazy."

At a black-tie reception in Washington Thursday night, Trump heaped praise on the people who will help him govern:

It was so beautiful how great our Cabinet -- all of whom are here tonight -- how great our Cabinet has performed. We have a Cabinet, I believe, the likes of which has never been appointed. There's never been a Cabinet like this.

“I will say, the other side is going absolutely crazy. They're going crazy.  The Cabinet members are doing really fantastically. I've watched most of it. I've heard most of it. They have really, really done a good job. I'm very, very proud of my picks. There's not a pick that I don't love. And if there was, I'd tell you right now!

Earlier Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference that Republicans “have made a mockery of the hearing process” by trying to “jam through nominees in truncated hearings.”

“If there was ever a group of cabinet nominees that cry out for rigorous scrutiny, it's this one,” Schumer said. “The President-elect's cabinet is a swamp cabinet, full of billionaires and bankers that have conflicts of interest and ethical lapses as far as the eye can see.”

According to Schumer, “The President-elect isn't draining the swamp with his cabinet picks; he is filling it up, contrary to everything he promised during his campaign. These issues and others deserve to be thoroughly and rigorously reviewed by the Senate.”

Schumer said Trump’s key national security nominees – retired Marine Gen. Jack Kelly for homeland security secretary and retired Army Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary – will get a confirmation vote on Friday.

He said he expects Rep. Mike Pompeo, the nominee for CIA director, to get a “quick vote,” as well,  maybe on Monday.

“It’s possible that some other, non-controversial nominees could be considered relatively quickly, but from there, we intend to have a full and rigorous debate on the President-elect's remaining nominees,” Schumer said.

Democrats are taking aim at ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson (secretary of state); Betsy DeVos (education secretary); Rep. Tom Price (HHS secretary); Stephen Mnuchin (treasury secretary); and Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator); and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) (White House budget director).

“If Republicans continue to stonewall and cover up the serious issues that many of these nominees are trying to avoid, they should be prepared to have those debates on the floor of the full Senate,” Schumer said.

As for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), nominated to the post of attorney general, Schumer said “people have serious issue problems with him, but he did submit his papers in time, it was scheduled in advance and we did get two days of hearings with the opportunity to question Senator Sessions on the second day. So his hearings are one of the few that went decently well.

“Having said that, there are so many issue positions that Senator Sessions has, that many of my colleagues want to continue the debate on the floor.”

Donald Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer speaks with reporters on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo)

Earlier on Thursday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters it’s a “shame” that Senate Democrats will delay a vote on nominees considered to be “consensus candidates… people who they didn't even find a problem with, people like Secretary Elaine Chao, Ben Carson, Nikki Haley, suddenly not be part of Senator Schumer's list that he will work with us to get done on day one.”

Spicer said the delay in confirming Trump’s picks “speaks volumes that the Democratic leadership is not working with us to ensure a continuity of government.”

Spicer also said Democrats are playing politics with some nominees: “But if you look at the questions that are being asked in these confirmation hearings, it's not about substance, it's not about policy, it's not about the -- the issues in front of that department. It's about partisan hacks -- I mean, partisan attacks and -- and ethical questions.

“That's not -- these people have had their paperwork in, their quality and caliber and integrity is unquestionable. And I think to see some of these attacks and the focus not be on issues like schools and teachers and homeland security is -- is a problem. There are so many issues facing this country that we need to get moving on.

“And the idea that Democrats would use these stall tactics is just -- it's not -- it's not in the country's best interest.”

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