Editorials

Trump picks are stirring reasonable fears

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, now secretary of state-designate, shake hands at a signing ceremony of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil at the Black Sea port of Tuapse, southern Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, now secretary of state-designate, shake hands at a signing ceremony of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil at the Black Sea port of Tuapse, southern Russia. Associated Press file, 2012

Those worried about the directions President-elect Donald Trump wants to take our country are certainly getting their fears well-nourished.

It’s going to take some adult supervision in Congress, specifically from the GOP-led U.S. Senate, to ensure that Trump and his associates don’t take the U.S. headlong over a cliff on diplomatic, military, healthcare and environmental issues.

Quite seriously, could an ExxonMobile CEO with long ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin be the first or best choice for secretary of state? This is coming from a president-elect who once encouraged Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails and who still dismisses CIA reports that Russia acted to influence the Nov. 8 election in Trump’s favor.

It is heartening that U.S. senators from both parties are calling for a careful look at the election and hacking questions. But it will require at least a handful from the GOP side to make any skepticism matter.

The possible appointment of ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is as deserving of scrutiny for conflicts of interest and hidden loyalties.

Similarly, it’s fair to ask whether a former Texas governor with oil industry ties —one who actually proposed to abolish the federal Department of Energy — is really the best choice to lead the agency. This question about Rick Perry is especially relevant given how much the waste cleanup at Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington relies on DOE.

And, is an Oklahoma attorney general who questions the human contribution to global warming, and who sued to block President Barack Obama’s actions to limit carbon emissions from power plants, the best person to lead the Environmental Protection Agency?

Lastly, what are we to make of putting Betsy DeVos, a major school-choice advocate, in charge of the Department of Education? DeVos, daughter-in-law of the billionaire who co-founded Amway, leads a group that favors broader use of government vouchers to help more students to attend private and religious schools.

Some of these appointments should be nonstarters in the interest of Washington state and our democracy. Government needs public servants who respect both the interests of the everyday citizen and the role of science in policy-making. Faith healing will not curb global warming.

Nominees requiring confirmation by the Senate deserve the closest scrutiny for hidden agendas as well as conflicts of interest.

The same goes for Trump’s own business ties and connections, which he’s hiding by still refusing to release tax returns or to divest his investments.

Americans gave Trump the Electoral College vote but not the popular vote. They all deserve better.

tillerso

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