Mnuchin, Perry and DeVos: Trump's nominees get grilled

Betsy DeVos faces senators during her confirmation hearings. Image copyright Getty Images

One after another, Donald Trump's cabinet secretary picks - the men and women who will be his top advisers and government managers during his presidency - are taking their turn before Senate confirmation committees.

While they've all been greeted with smiles, handshakes and warm introductions from their biggest supporters, some have fared much better than others. Here's a quick look at how some of them have performed under the spotlight.


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Steven Mnuchin - Secretary of the Treasury

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump condemned what he saw as a wealthy cabal of globalist bankers running the world at the expense of the American working class. On Thursday, a member of that Wall Street elite stood before a Senate confirmation committee as the president-elect's designated top economic adviser.

If there was a bit of dissonance surrounding this scene, it didn't appear to have too much effect on how the hearings unfolded. Democrats went on the attack, questioning Mnuchin's lengthy business record. They slammed his role as head of a bank that aggressively foreclosed on delinquent homeowners after the 2008 financial collapse and questioned his decision to create an offshore home for his hedge fund to help pension funds, non-profit groups and foreign entities invest without paying federal taxes.

Mnuchin responded by claiming federal rules tied his hands with foreclosures and he'd much rather have helped distressed homeowners modify their loans. As for the Cayman Islands subsidiary - which he did not include on his original financial disclosure forms - he insisted it was done to help clients and did not affect his own tax exposure.

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Seeds of a Trump-Republican conflict

Storm clouds gather over US Capitol buidling. Image copyright Getty Images

With just days to go before inauguration, Donald Trump is making life rather difficult for his party's leadership in Congress.

It could be by accident. It could be part of a plan to establish his independent credentials. Or it could simply be an early attempt at framing Republican policies in terms palatable to his working-class supporters.

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Trump press event: A theatre of the absurd

Donald Trump calls on a questioner at his press conference in New York City. Image copyright Getty Images

Donald Trump used to regularly give press conferences. They were free-form events, bits of political performance art that dominated the news and helped the presidential hopeful win the Republican nomination.

The last one came more than five months ago.

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Jeff Sessions: What he revealed about Trump's priorities

Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Image copyright Reuters

During Jeff Session's first day of confirmation hearings, Democrats did not provoke any blockbuster revelations that would bring his attorney general hopes crashing down in flames.

Senators on both sides of the aisle, however, were able to draw Mr Trump's nominee out on a wide range of issues, revealing how he would go about running the Justice Department and what his priorities would be.

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Donald Trump inauguration: Ethics concerns swirl around Trump team

Donald Trump talks to the media on 28 December. Image copyright Getty Images

Donald Trump will hold his first press conference in almost six months on Wednesday, to talk about plans to avoid conflicts of interest involving his sprawling business empire while he's president.

Meanwhile the US Congress is reviewing the nominations of a series of his top political nominees who are facing their own ethical questions, and concerns continue to swirl around several other high-level advisers.

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What marks does Obama's presidency deserve?

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It's almost time to close the book on Barack Obama's eight years as president. Before he relocates to Washington's posh Kalorama neighbourhood, however, here's a take on what he tried to do - and how well he did it.

Although there are letter grades attached to each section, these assessments are not a reflection of the wisdom of his actions, only in how well he was able to advance his agenda over the course of his presidency.

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Trump presidency: What his new team teaches us

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in North Carolina. Image copyright Getty Images

As Donald Trump's 20 January inauguration draws closer, the president-elect's administration is starting to take shape. What does it tell us about what we can expect from the Trump presidency?

Although the incoming president has to fill more than 4,000 executive branch jobs scattered across dozens of agencies, departments and bureaus, there are 21 top-level Cabinet positions that require Senate confirmation. So far the Trump transition team has announced nominees for 15 of the spots (a 16th, interior secretary, is reportedly going to Ryan Zinke of Montana).

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Could the electoral college dump Trump?

Donald Trump stands at a rally in Michigan. Image copyright Getty Images

On 8 November Donald Trump was declared the winner of the US presidential election. His victory, however, won't be official until 19 December, when the 538 members of the electoral college gather in state capitals across the US to formally cast their ballots for the next president.

The electoral college vote is a vestigial constitutional organ - a political appendix - that in practice has amounted to little more than a rubber stamp for the president-elect. The year 2016 seems determined to continue breaking rules and norms right up until its last day, however, so of course there's now a movement among some electors to challenge this status quo - and the Clinton team just gave a wink and a nod of approval to their efforts.

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Trump: Five political minefields facing president-elect

Donald Trump speaks in the lobby of Trump Tower. Image copyright Getty Images

It's still more than a month before Donald Trump takes the oath of office, but it's not too early to think about the challenges he will face in the White House.

The new president will have formidable assets at his disposal. The chief executive has broad unilateral powers, and his party controls both chambers of Congress. As long as Republicans stay unified, they will be able to advance a broad range of conservative priorities that have been on the back-burner for more than a decade.

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Why is Donald Trump discussing climate change with Al Gore?

Mr Gore had and 'extremely interesting conversation' with the president-elect, he told reporters at Trump Tower Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Gore had and 'extremely interesting conversation' with the president-elect, he told reporters at Trump Tower

Anyone who had Donald Trump sitting down with former Vice-President Al Gore among their post-election predictions, please raise your hand.

The meeting may not be the strangest thing that has come out of the Trump transition process. (That honour has to go to the Naked Cowboy's appearance in a Trump Tower elevator last week.)

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