This week it looks like a huge chunk of Donald Trump’s Cabinet is on thin ice. On Tuesday, Trump fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and has hinted that a further shakeup is in the works, with Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly among those who could possibly go.
Trump is planning to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to succeed Pompeo. Both will require confirmation votes. With other Cabinet members on the rocks, there could be even more votes to come. The GOP has virtually no wiggle room, with a slim 51–49 majority in the Senate. Republican Rand Paul has announced that he opposes both nominees and John McCain is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, which means that Trump will likely need the support of Democrats.
Obviously, they shouldn’t give it to him.
Previously, 14 Democrats and one independent, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, voted to confirm Pompeo for CIA Director. While some of those Democrats are reconsidering their votes, Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that he wasn’t currently urging his caucus to try and block Trump’s new nominees. On Friday, Schumer told Politico that “Both of them have serious questions to answer and neither confirmation is a sure thing.”
Both Pompeo—who is a hardliner on issues like Iran and North Korea—and Haspel—who oversaw and covered up torture—are clearly unfit for their positions. But when Trump was nominating his Cabinet a year ago, no Democrat voted against every single nominee. The thinking at the time went that Democrats didn’t want to be seen as obstructionist; that they had to “pick their battles”; that they were putting up a tougher fight than people thought; and that some Cabinet picks would be better than the alternatives Trump would pick if they were rejected.
Trump now wants to shake up a Cabinet that has proven itself to be clearly incompetent and corrupt. But since then, the administration has spent a year terrorizing immigrants, dismantling our public schools, flouting the Russia investigation with impunity, and selling out to corporations. And with what looks like a possible blue wave hitting the midterm elections—even in Trump districts—it’s unlikely that voting to confirm Trump’s nominees in some show of “bipartisanship” would be politically advantageous.
Democrats have a second chance to stand against Trump. They should take it.