U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a reliable ally for President Barack Obama, especially on immigration policies, is preparing for a potentially contentious relationship with President-elect Donald Trump.
Durbin joined Morning Shift to discuss Trump’s cabinet picks, political strategy and more.
On Trump’s cabinet picks
I look a the cabinet selections, and it is worrisome. Here we have former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy that he’s been selected to lead. Here we have Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who was a pretty steady litigator trying to close down the operations of the EPA, now going to head it up. Here we have ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson, who received an award from Vladimir Putin. These are worrisome things. I look at this list and I look for the steady hand.
On uniting with Republicans over cabinet picks
If the 48 Senate Democrats, including new Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, are united in opposition then there are three Republicans needed to make the difference — three. For example, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) came up to me this week and said he’s publicly opposed to potential State Department Deputy John R. Bolton, and said another Republican senator feels the same. So I said, if you pick up a third one I’ll start working our side.
There’s no certainty that the Democrats will be united in opposition — we have some conservatives, people up for re-election, people with their own point of view — so you can’t assume we’ll all vote ‘No’ on anything.
On who should be in Trump’s cabinet
It’s unfair to prejudge before their hearing. Let’s hear what they have to say. I haven’t met with Jeff Sessions, I will in January, but I have a long list of questions, and I start off skeptical of his brand of politics and thoughts about the constitution that aren’t consistent with my own or aren’t in the best interest of the United States.
This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity. Click play above to listen to the entire interview.