Whitehouse, Cicilline Join Democrats Criticizing Trump Appointees

Nov 16, 2016

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, is one of several federal lawmakers voicing concerns over Republican Donald Trump’s early preparations for the White House.

Whitehouse joined Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on a conference call with reporters Tuesday to criticize corporate influence on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

Citing Trump's campaign promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, Whitehouse accused Trump of doing just the opposite, by appointing corporate lobbyists to his transition team. Whitehouse named several examples including Michael Catanzaro, a partner in a lobbying firm with clients like Microsoft and MasterCard.

“It is disconcerting to see such an array of corporate lobbyists and corporate consultants leading this transition," Whitehouse said. "It doesn’t look like they’re draining the swamp, it looks like they’re pouring the swamp into the transition.”

Not all members of Trump’s transition team are lobbyists, and Trump did outline a plan for removing corporate influence from the White House during his campaign.

But other Rhode Island politicians have also criticized Trump’s transition team. U.S. Representative David Cicilline, also a Democrat, has called for Trump to rescind his nomination of Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist, citing Bannon’s popularity with white supremacist groups.

Cicilline is circulating a letter on Capitol Hill that his office says has more than 120 signatures from the House of Representatives. The letter says Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have mistreated minorities in the days since the election.