Now that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been selected as President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary, it looks like future palling around between Trump and moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) can be put down to something other than the two Democrats actually being future members of an incoming Republican President’s Cabinet.
Heitkamp met with Trump, something that now looks more like an effort to establish herself as Trump-voter-friendly ahead of a tough 2018 re-election race than it does a serious effort to get the gig Perry now has. Manchin was also allegedly under consideration for that job but has done his Trump administration glad-handing more in the frame of loudly sounding off with “country before party”-type quotes about things like the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney-General. See for example these Manchin quotes given to Politico on that subject:
Informed that Democrats might hold up Sessions and other nominations past Jan. 20, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia responded: “That’s just bullsh**.”
“My God, I think we should have an attorney general in place on Jan. 20. I sure do believe that,” added Manchin, one of five Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in states that overwhelmingly supported Trump.
Obviously, Manchin’s views here will resonate with a lot of conservatives and Trump supporters alike, and that’s probably a deliberate ploy on his part to show himself as kinda-sorta Republican-ish despite the “D” after his name, just like Heitkamp; he’s up for re-election in 2018, and West Virginia isn’t exactly friendly turf for the Democratic Party these days. It’s also worth noting as the “DINO” (Democrat In Name Only) that progressives love to hate the very most, Manchin probably does agree with Sessions on a good amount of things.
But there’s another reason why Manchin may be especially keen to play nice with Sessions, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who heads the committee tasked with getting Sessions confirmed. Manchin’s daughter is the CEO of Pharma giant Mylan. And for what it’s worth, some very well-placed people in both parties counting likely votes on the Sessions nomination tell the Insider this is is a primary reason why Sessions will, no matter what, get confirmed on a bipartisan vote.
If the name Mylan isn’t ringing a bell, it’s the pharmaceutical company that’s been getting the guts ripped out of it over its pricing of EpiPens, the one that directly benefits from and funds lobbying to achieve the curtailment of a drug discount program that gets poor, red-state patients EpiPens at a discount, and most importantly, the Mylan that remains the focus of a Department of Justice probe and has found itself in the crosshairs of Sen. Grassley. In other words, the Mylan whose success or failure may depend a heck of a lot on who the next Attorney-General is, and what his attitude is towards the company- oh, and whether Grassley stops poking his nose into Mylan matters.
Contrary to what Mylan has claimed, it has not settled with the DOJ (recently, it has “clarified” that it is working to finalize a settlement). In fact, the DOJ has told Grassley that it cannot testify before a hearing he convened because the Department hasn’t agreed a settlement. That means this whole Mylan-DOJ dispute could easily still be a live problem for Manchin’s daughter when President-elect Trump assumes office, and something that just maybe Manchin thinks might be more easily resolved if a guy who arguably owes him one is in the Attorney-General’s job, not to mention if another Mylan foe also owes him one for help getting that Attorney-General confirmed with a bipartisan vote.
Only Joe Manchin lives inside Joe Manchin’s head, but logic, combined with the fact that this is Washington, D.C., combined with what the vote counters are saying, suggests that a bunch of factors, including this one, likely is playing into Manchin’s positioning here on some level. Note, too, that there is some interesting interplay between the rise in Manchin’s political fortunes and his daughter’s rise up the corporate ladder, prior to this point in time. And Manchin has used his political muscle to secure favors benefiting his daughter before -in fact, that’s how she got her foot in the door at Mylan in the first place, albeit in a low-level job.
Neither Sessions or Grassley is the kind of guy likely to go light on people or companies engaged in dirty deeds, let alone because the person or company has a family connection to a US Senator. But it’s worth remembering that when Manchin eventually casts his courageous, patriotic vote for Sessions, there could be a lot more to it than meets the eye.