President Donald Trump raised eyebrows with his choice of Ken Cuccinelli to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The former attorney general of Virginia, 2013 GOP gubernatorial nominee, and leader of the Senate Conservatives Fund, Cuccinelli is a hard-right culture warrior who has a virulently anti-immigrant record. He has tried to repeal birthright citizenship, ban undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges, and protect employers' right to fire people for not speaking English — and he has compared immigration policy to exterminating rats.
According to Politico, Cuccinelli's nomination is now in serious jeopardy, with Senate Republicans poised to reject him. Incredibly, though, their opposition to him is not based on any of those things — it's because Cuccinelli has spent years attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other GOP senators.
"He's spent a fair amount of his career attacking Republicans in the Senate, so it strikes me as an odd position for him to put himself in to seek Senate confirmation ... It's unlikely he's going to be confirmed if he is nominated." Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Politico.
Faced with this opposition, Trump administration is reportedly considering the idea of bypassing Senate confirmation altogether and installing Cuccinelli at USCIS on an acting basis — which is how he has appointed every other current member of leadership at the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump's nominations so far this year have been marked with some high-profile embarrassments, with his two choices for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, withdrawing amid a hailstorm of critical news coverage and Republican opposition.