Coons has ‘serious concerns’ about Trump’s cabinet picks


DOVER — Chris Coons, Delaware’s junior senator, visited President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday, although the conversation stayed away from politics. Nonetheless, Sen. Coons said Thursday he is prepared to fight President-elect Trump and scrutinize several of his cabinet picks.

The next four years could be “rough” politically, Sen. Coons admitted, noting he does anticipate conflicts with the administration.

Sen. Coons, a Democrat, said it “was a little surreal” to be at Trump Tower, where he met the president-elect. The two talked solely about the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event scheduled for Feb. 2 next year.

Along with Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., Sen. Coons is a co-chair of the breakfast, which the president traditionally attends.

Sen. Coons said he and Sen. Boozman invited President-elect Trump to the event and did not broach any other topics while at Trump Tower, although “it was very tempting.

“I wanted to ask him to release his taxes. I’m sure he wanted to ask me to comment on things I’ve said about some of his nominees but we really kept it focused on the positive message about the National Prayer Breakfast,” he said.

Sen. Coons has been critical of some of the president-elect’s choices to head government agencies, particularly secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who currently is the CEO of ExxonMobil.

Mr. Tillerson has close ties with Russia and has been awarded the Order of Friendship by its president, Vladimir Putin, facts that have led not just Democrats but also several Republican senators to publicly question the potential secretary of state.

Saying he has “serious concerns” about several of President-elect Trump’s selections, Sen. Coons noted Small Business Administration pick Linda McMahon, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions and Mr. Tillerson will answer questions from committees he serves on.

“If Rex Tillerson’s our next secretary of state, he’s going to have to fight for things like human rights, democracy, a free press, which are very different than the priorities by the world’s largest oil and gas company,” he said.

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