By the end of the week, some of President-elect Donald Trump’s top Cabinet-level nominees will have spent dozens of hours in the hot seat. Senate Republicans are trying to confirm as many of Trump’s picks as possible by his inauguration on Jan. 20, so they’ve crowded in about a half-dozen hearings, from secretary of state to attorney general, into four days. But it won’t take you dozens of hours to find out what happened. Every day we’ll be bringing you the top quotes from each hearing. Here’s the latest.

Photo of Ben Carson

Ben Carson

Nominee to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

On the presidential campaign trail, Ben Carson often spoke of growing up poor. Now he's President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead an agency that provides benefits to the urban poor. But Carson, a brain surgeon and 2016 GOP presidential candidate with no government experience, has made clear in the past he does not approve of the many federal housing and rental-assistance policies that do just that. He sounded a somewhat different note in his nomination hearing.

“I do believe that government is extraordinarily important.” Hide context

Said by: Carson. These were strange words coming from a man who said months earlier he’d be “like a fish out of water” as a federal bureaucrat and who, an adviser said, was hesitant to run a federal agency because “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience.” When Carson was running for president, he said getting rid of “all the regulations” is the key to getting rid of poverty. He also said he didn’t support affirmative action. But in his hearing Thursday, Carson repeatedly emphasized the positive role that housing assistance can play in people’s lives and declared: “I don’t have any problem whatsoever with affirmative action.”

Photo of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)

Nominee to be director of the CIA

Elected in the tea party wave of 2010, Pompeo is one of the most reliably conservative members of Congress — and one of its most vocal. He said that the way U.S. officials responded to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is “worse in some ways” than Watergate and accused Hillary Clinton of trying to cover that up. The West Point graduate has little intelligence experience beyond a brief stint on the House Intelligence Committee but is viewed as a serious national security thinker.

“You have my commitment that every day I will not only speak truth to power, but I will demand that the men and women [in the CIA will] ... do that each and every day.” Hide context

Said by: Pompeo. This was Pompeo’s diplomatic-as-possible response to questions about how he plans to run an agency that his would-be boss has repeatedly derided. Just a day before Pompeo’s hearing, Trump dismissed as “nonsense” an intelligence report summarizing allegations that Russia may have compromising information on him. In a tweet, Trump appeared to compare the intelligence community to “Nazi Germany.” The president-elect has spent weeks questioning not only the CIA’s findings that Russia tried to meddle in U.S. elections but also investigators’ intentions. Pompeo promised senators reviewing his nomination: “I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor, no matter where the facts lead.”

Photo of Marine Gen. James Mattis (Retired)

Marine Gen. James Mattis (Retired)

Nominee to be secretary of defense

Mattis, who served 40 years in the Marine Corps and has made waves for his hawkish views on Islam, is attempting to be just the second person in 60 years to serve as head of the Department of Defense after recently retiring from the military. (Congress must pass a waiver to help him get around a law that requires at least seven years of separation between active duty and the job.)

“Features in your background make this an opportune moment to make an exception.” Hide context

Said by: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). When Kaine offered up this bipartisan praise to Mattis about three-quarters of the way through the hearing, it was a sign that Democrats might not be likely to oppose the waiver Mattis needs to serve as Trump’s secretary of defense, nor his nomination. (Procedurally, the waiver is more difficult for Mattis to acquire than his nomination because it require 60 votes in the Senate, while his nomination can clear with just 50.)

Photo of Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao

Nominee to be secretary of transportation

Chao is one of the most experienced of Trump’s nominees. She was President George W. Bush’s labor secretary for eight years and served as deputy secretary of transportation under his father, George H. W. Bush. She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“Kentucky or Louisville?” Hide context

Said by: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). This was the last question of the hearing, but we’re sharing it first because it underscores how Chao was treated with “kid gloves,” The Washington Post’s Ashley Halsey III reported: “When she responded that she needed to be briefed before she could answer a question . . . there was nary a harsh follow-up or sharp challenge.” It’s probably a reflection that Chao is one of the more experienced of Trump’s picks. She’s also the wife of literally the most powerful person in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The Kentucky resident dodged the divisive question about which of the state’s college basketball teams to support: “I’ll take a pass on that.”

Photo of Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson

Nominee to be secretary of state

Tillerson is an unconventional choice to be the nation’s top diplomat. The ExxonMobil chief executive has no government or formal diplomacy experience, and his extensive business dealings in Russia concerned even some Republicans, which created a rocky first day of his hearing.

“Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?”

“I would not use that term.”

“It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, and I find it discouraging your inability to cite that, which I think is globally accepted.” Hide context

Said by: Exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tillerson. This was part of a tellingly heated exchange between Tillerson and one of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s most hawkish Republicans, Rubio. Tillerson said the intelligence agency’s reports that concluded Russia interfered in U.S. elections was “clearly troubling” and it’s “a fair assumption” Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the hacking. (Rubio and other hawkish senators go a lot further — they say it’s a sure thing.) But what really frustrated Rubio was Tillerson’s unwillingness to confirm he’d keep sanctions on Russia. Rubio’s tough line of questions — and apparent disappointment with the answers he got — suggests there is a growing coalition of hawkish Senate Republicans who could block Tillerson’s nomination.

Photo of Gen. John F. Kelly (Retired)

Gen. John F. Kelly (Retired)

Nominee for Homeland Security Secretary

The retired Marine general is aiming to be the first non-civilian to run the Department of Homeland Security, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to coordinate counterterrorism efforts. The department also has a major role in enforcing immigration policy.

“I don’t think we should ever come close to crossing a line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques.” Hide context

Said by: Kelly. Here is one of many instances where President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for homeland secretary appeared to diverge or even disagree with him. “Torture works,” Trump has said. Trump also wants to bring back waterboarding, a CIA practice Congress banned. Kelly did not seem nearly as gung-ho on torture. He also said later he intended to let the law be his guide “on everything I do.”

Photo of Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

Nominee for attorney general

Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Donald Trump. The staunchly conservative positions Sessions has taken the past 20 years in the Senate prompted lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to ask whether he can be an impartial enforcer of U.S. law as head of the Justice Department.

“I did not harbor the kind of animosities or race-based discrimination that I was accused of.” Hide context

Said by: Sessions. Try as he might, Sessions has struggled to live down the charges raised during his last set of nomination hearings 30 years ago. In 1986, the Senate denied him a federal judgeship over allegations he made racially insensitive remarks as the U.S. attorney for Alabama. Sessions has insisted he got an unfair hearing, but losing that judgeship almost derailed his career and has haunted him since. On Tuesday, he addressed those allegations head on.

[Does Sen. Jeff Sessions have a ‘strong record’ on civil rights enforcement?]