Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he hopes some Democrats will come forward in opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination after a report surfaced that the Defense secretary hopeful called the State Department an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister’s office.
Hagel supporter George Ajjan summarized the Rutgers speech in a 2007 blog post, including the “bold statement” about the U.S. being controlled by Israel. “Hagel mentioned this theme several times – comprehensive, he said, in the sense that all tools should be used to achieve American foreign policy objectives (diplomatic, political, economic, and military), but also comprehensive in the James Baker sense of addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict holistically as both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have proved too lazy and too incompetent to do,” Ajjan wrote.
On Fox last night, Graham called Hagel’s words a “breathtaking statement.”
“Senator Hagel said that he doesn’t recall making that statement and would disavow it. This latest report, I’m trying to absorb it,” the senator said. “But the bottom line for me, if he, in fact, said something like that, that the State Department was controlled by the Israeli foreign minister’s office, I think that would undermine his ability to serve as secretary of defense, and I hope some Democrats would come forward in light of all the other things he said.”
“If he says that the State Department’s under the thumb of the Israeli foreign minister’s office, that would show an edge about Israel and a view of the Israel-U.S. relationship that’s so far out of the mainstream, I don’t think he could effectively serve,” Graham added.
He said the “sum total of all the things he said and all the votes he’s taken” should make Hagel an “unacceptable” candidate.
Republicans blocked Hagel’s nomination in a cloture vote before the Presidents Day recess, but have indicated to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that a vote on the floor may be allowed after the break.
“If there is some evidence that he said at any time something akin to the State Department being controlled by the Israeli foreign minister’s office, in light of the other statements, the Jewish lobby statement, and the votes he’s taken and the attitude he’s exhibited toward Iran and Israel, that would be it for me,” Graham said. “And I hope some Democrats at that point would come forward and ask the president to nominate somebody new.”