This is the first in a two part series looking at the potential questions senators should ask Trump Administration officials on North and South Korea policy during their confirmation hearings. The second part looking at the nominees for Commerce and USTR can be found here.
By Mark Tokola
Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution requires that the President make appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate. Confirmation hearings are part of Senate’s process of giving “advice and consent.” Although the confirmation process has become increasingly partisan, including for appointments to the Supreme Court, it still provides an opportunity for a public discussion of the policy views of incoming Administration officials as well as an examination of their personal backgrounds and qualifications. Confirmation hearings also provide an early window into how Administrations see the world, what their priorities are, and how they intend to deal with challenges.
Those who have been through the confirmation process, and even those who just watch it, are often frustrated with the time-consuming speeches of the questioners, leading questions intended to push a policy line rather than to learn anything from the candidate, unnecessarily evasive or picayunish answers from the candidates, and the always unhelpful approach of “Just answer the question ‘yes’ or ‘no’!” The shortage of time also means that important topics never have the opportunity to surface.
For the purposes of those with a particular interest in Northeast Asia, and Korea in particular, following are questions that we would love to see asked and answered during the upcoming confirmation hearings. Even if they do not come up in the hearings, we will still be watching to see how the Trump Administration will deal with them over time:
For Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State Designate (Confirmation Hearing: January 11-12):
For James Mattis, Secretary of Defense Designate (Confirmation Hearing: January 12):
Mark Tokola is the Vice President of the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are his own.
Photo from lukexmartin’s photostreamn on flickr Creative Commons.