Sen. Mike Johanns says former Nebraska United States Sen. Chuck Hagel will have to explain past statements during confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense nominee.
Johanns says Hagel, a fellow Republican, has the background necessary for the job, both in the military and the Senate. Hagel served in Vietnam as part of the United States Army’s 9th Infantry Division in 1968, winning two Purple Hearts. Hagel won two terms as United States Senator in Nebraska, serving from 1997 to 2009. He has been the co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board.
Hagel teaches at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and serves on a number of corporate boards.
Hagel’s flaw, according to Johanns, could be his candor.
“But, Chuck has said a lot of controversial things and he now has an opportunity as a nominee to the cabinet, a very high post in the cabinet, to explain what he meant by those things,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview.
For Johanns and many other United States Senators, the most controversial statements Hagel has made center on Israel. Some critics claim Hagel has been too critical of Israel and too lenient on Israel’s enemies, such as Iran and the terrorist group Hamas.
Hagel doesn’t have Johanns’ vote, yet.
“I just need to hear from Chuck as to what he was thinking about. I’m anxious to hear that. That will come out in the hearing process. I look forward to that in the weeks ahead,” Johanns says.
Johanns dismisses suggestions that a dust-up during last year’s United States Senate campaign might have a carry-over effect. Johanns suggested that Hagel endorsed Democrat Bob Kerrey for Senate over Republican Deb Fischer, because Hagel was angling for a cabinet post. That statement brought a strong rebuke from Hagel, who vehemently denied it and suggested Johanns didn’t know what he was talking about [see previous story].
Johanns says the two simply had a political disagreement.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Sen. Johanns on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Sec. of Defense. [8 min.]