I've got a new piece at Shareblue about why we must be very cynical about the future utility of the independence expressed by some of Trump's cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings:
During his confirmation hearing to head the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) was asked by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) if he would comply if Donald Trump asked him to reinstate torture. "Absolutely not," he replied.There is much, much more at the link. Including yet more analysis of how Pence's outsized role in the incoming administration may affect this dynamic.
Pompeo's answer signified a major break with Trump, who bluntly advocated resuming the use of waterboarding and "much worse" in the fight against terrorism.
On the one hand, it is an indictment of Trump's contemptible position on torture. On the other, Trump benefits from looking as though he chose independent-minded people to serve in his administration, and the appearance of independence is more likely to ensure their confirmations garner Democratic support.
Some or all of the nominees may even genuinely hold opposing views to Trump.
But Trump has repeatedly shown he seeks vengeance on anyone who criticizes or disagrees with him. Even if his cabinet nominees were the most principled people on the planet, who intend to and would stand up to him, we have every reason to anticipate that Trump would simply marginalize them or get rid of them completely.
On their face, these critical divergences from some of Trump's more odious campaign positions are reassuring...
But we can only be reassured insofar as we believe that Trump will listen to and adopt the recommendations of members of his cabinet.
And there is precious little reason to believe that he will.