Trump's top Cabinet picks begin submitting documents to Senate

Story highlights

  • Rex Tillerson and Steven Mnuchin have submitted documents to Senate committees
  • Hearings are expected in the coming weeks

(CNN)Two of President-elect Donald Trump's top Cabinet picks -- and those with the most potential roadblocks to confirmation -- have begun to provide the Senate committees that will need to approve their nominations with vetting documents.

Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil CEO Trump tapped for secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, the hedge fund manager nominated to lead the Treasury Department, have begun to supply lawmakers with documents about their personal finances, business interests and potential conflicts of interest.
Tillerson completed the Foreign Relations Committee's lengthy questionnaire on Friday evening, but has yet to submit personal financial disclosure documents, a committee aide told CNN on Tuesday. Mnuchin on Monday filed three years of tax returns and a completed questionnaire with the Senate Finance Committee, the panel's communications director Julia Lawless confirmed Tuesday.
    The documents likely contain new, previously unpublicized information about the two men, who have maintained relatively low profiles throughout their private sector careers. The files have not been publicly disclosed and remain in the hands of committee staff.
    Hearings are expected to be held on both nominees in the coming weeks, before Trump takes the oath of office on January 20.
    Democrats are likely to pounce on Mnuchin -- a former Goldman Sachs investor and wealthy hedge fund manager -- to undermine the populist, blue-collar appeal Trump campaigned on and promised to bring to Washington. And Mnuchin's financial documents could reveal how much the nominee profited off the home foreclosure tactics of OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin ran, and other of his private business dealings.
    Tillerson will also face a thorough vetting process as the ExxonMobil CEO's close business ties to Russia and long-standing relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin come under the microscope.
    Democrats and some Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who sits on the committee, have already expressed serious concerns about Tillerson's ties to Russia and the potential conflicts of interest Tillerson may bring to the State Department.
    Already, leaked documents have raised fresh questions about Tillerson's business interests. A 2001 document included in a dump of leaked files unearthed in recent days by The Guardian revealed that Tillerson was the director of a Russian subsidiary of Exxon, which was incorporated in the Bahamas, a known tax haven.
    Should Finance Committee staff discover a red flag in Mnuchin's tax returns, the committee's Republican Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and its top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, will meet to discuss whether to publicly disclose that information, with Mnuchin's consent.
    The information Tillerson and Mnuchin are unloading on the Senate committees that will approve their nominations will amount to more substantive financial disclosures than Trump has provided thus far.
    In a break with decades of precedent, the President-elect refused during the campaign to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing federal audit of his taxes, which would not have prevented him from disclosing the documents.