Senate confirmation disputes expected on Trump's State, CIA picks

CIA director nominee

Senate confirmation isn't expected to go as smoothly for President Donald Trump's new selections for secretary of state and CIA director as they did last year. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he expected to hold confirmation hearings sometime in April. Outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Mr. Trump's pick for State, previously was confirmed to head the CIA in a 66-32 vote. 

Senate Democrats — and some top Republicans — are slow-walking the process amid fresh questions over the Trump administration's stance toward Russia and the CIA's dark history of torture.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would not go into detail on the confirmation process, but when asked if he was planning to call on Democrats to oppose Mr. Trump's nominations in Gina Haspel and Pompeo, he replied in a veiled manner, "At this point, I am not." 

Meanwhile, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming told reporters the Senate needs to do a "quick confirmation" process for Pompeo or risk further delays in filling the administration's already hefty vacancies.

"He was confirmed in a bipartisan way by this Senate less than a year ago to be the head of the CIA.  Any delay would just be additional obstruction by the democrats who have just since President Trump has come to office has a history of incredible delay and obstruction, like not seen  in decades," added Barrasso.

Mr. Trump's firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson touched off a confirmation battle that will play out ahead of midterm elections, which determine party control of Congress. Tillerson told reporters at the State Department on Tuesday in a farewell speech to staffers that his commission at State would terminate at midnight on March 31. 

Mr. Trump's pick to replace Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, is expected to be asked about his loyalty to Trump and his approach toward Russia.

And Mr. Trump's choice to replace Pompeo at the CIA, Gina Haspel, is likely to be asked about her role in the CIA's interrogation program.