Capitol Hill Democrats alarmed by Trump's inner-circle appointments

Dems react

WASHINGTON -- Like many Democrats, California Rep. Adam Schiff used the word “alarming” Friday to describe President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Flynn for national security adviser.

“You don’t want someone frankly that can be a hot head at times, or erratic,” Schiff said.

Just last year the retired lieutenant general dined with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

“His views on Russia ought to concern us all. Like the president-elect, he has been an apologist for the Kremlin,” Schiff said.

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Democrats were just as critical of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, tapped for attorney general.

The Congressional Black Caucus called Sessions’ civil rights record “appalling.”

Rep. Luis Guttierez of Illinois said in a statement, “If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet,” then Sen. “Sessions is your man.”

“I think that’s just false,” said William Smith, who is African-American and worked with Sessions for ten years.

To the Democrats who say Sessions has a past of making racist statements, Smith said “They don’t know Sen. Sessions that well, they haven’t been around him they haven’t worked with him.”

“He’s a fine guy, never said anything inappropriate and to chase something that’s 30 years old I think it’s inappropriate,” he said.

There was less strife over Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for CIA director.

In a statement, Democrats, called him “bright and hard working.” Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio called him a “strong choice.”

Many Republicans were silent about Flynn, who unlike the other two, will not need to be confirmed by Congress.

And in reality, Democrats do not have a chance to stop any of Trump’s appointments as long as the Republicans in the Senate vote together; They have a four-seat majority.

“If Republicans stick together, the president will be anle to essentially put in whoever he wants in these positions, which is, if we needed already, another demonstration of how elections really matter,” Schiff said.

Normally, Republicans would need at least a few Democratic votes to confirm the nominees. But when Democrats controlled the Senate, they reduced the number of votes needed from 60 to a simple majority of 51. It was called the “nuclear option,” and now it is blowing up in their faces.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.