Photo: Courtesy Of CSPAN
It’s been a rough morning for former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing as President Obama’s next defence Secretary. So far, Hagel has struggled in sparring with his former Republican colleagues, stumbling over answers defending his controversial past statements on Israel, Iran, and the U.S. nuclear program.
But the most uncomfortable moment was definitely when Sen. Lindsey Graham grilled Hagel over a 2006 interview in which he said that the “pro-Israel lobby intimidates a lot of people” in Congress.
“Name one person here who’s been intimidated by the Jewish lobby,” Graham demanded. “Name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing due to pressure by the Israeli or Jewish lobby.”
“I don’t know,” Hagel replied. “I didn’t have a specific person in mind.”
“So you agree that it was a dumb thing to say?”
“Yes,” Hagel admitted. “I’ve already said that.”
Here’s the video, via the Washington Free Beacon:
Hagel’s confirmation to the Senate remains uncertain, particularly in light of his rocky performance at Thursday’s hearing.
Pro-Israel groups and Republican defence hawks have leveled harsh criticism against Hagel in recent week. In addition to the “Israel lobby” comment, their grievances include Hagel’s past opposition to multilateral sanctions on Iran and his support for open negotiations with Hamas.
While most Senate Democrats have indicated they will vote to confirm Hagel, despite these reservations, it is not clear if he will get enough Republican support to avoid a filibuster.
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