Complaining about Senate Republicans being dissatisfied with former senator Chuck Hagel's refusal to turn over information related to speeches he delivered that were financed by foreign sources, MSNBC's Tamron Hall this afternoon took a conservative blogger out of context to suggest that even conservatives were frustrated with how the Senate GOP -- which, by the way, is the minority party in the Senate and lacks the votes to thwart a Hagel confirmation -- was handling the confirmation process.
In a February 8 NewsNation segment entitled "Hagel Holdup," Hall lamented that Republican "senators are also demanding that Hagel give them copies of every speech he's made in the past five years. It's a process Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin says, quote, 'could be the most inept and disorganized confirmation effort in recent memory.'" While Rubin did write that Friday morning, the Post blogger was referring to the Obama administration and Mr. Hagel, not Republicans. From "A critical weekend for the Hagel nomination" (video follows page break; MP3 audio here):
Chuck Hagel wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, saying that he couldn’t possibly respond to senators’ requests for information on speeches, investments and donors to his groups. The Republican committee members are especially concerned with foreign countries and donors from whom Hagel might have received remuneration. Hagel said that he has some fiduciary duty to keep that information from the hands of those he expects to confirm him for a top post. (Or something.) But now, never mind. He’ll go looking for documents.
Hagel’s could be the most inept and disorganized confirmation effort in recent memory. Hagel showed up either unprepped or revealed he is unpreppable. Then he won’t give over documents — and then he will, he says. One of several things is going on.
It might be that there is a battle between the White House, which wants to prep Hagel and disclose whatever needs to be disclosed, and the nominee, who thinks he’s entitled to the job no matter how awful his hearing performance is or how little information he provides. It could be, however, that there is embarrassing material that the White House and Hagel thought they could keep from the committee, a silly and dangerous assumption. Or it might be that Levin, with or without encouragement from the White House, is letting this nominee hang out there for maybe just one more shoe to drop, thus ridding everyone (especially our troops) of Hagel’s stewardship of the military at a particularly challenging time.
Certainly, the stalling on documents is angering Republican senators. On Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted his decision: “After disappointing hearing, unanswered questions, failure to comply with transparency requirements I cannot support Hagel.” If Hagel doesn’t pick up more support than the two already committed Republicans, there will be 43 potential “no” votes from Republican senators. And if Hagel continues to snub the committee (one can imagine him coming back with only a fraction of the requested documents), there would be a real risk of filibuster.
The White House insists that everything is on track. But really? Aside from the fact that the same team promised that Hagel would satisfy all concerns and wow everyone in the hearing, the White House isn’t acting like it has a handle on the process. Hagel and his handlers were clearly surprised by the intensity of the hearing questions, and now they are surprised again that the Republicans are pushing for data on Hagel’s foreign connections.
It does seem the weekend is critical. We will see how vigorously (or not) the White House defends Hagel on the Sunday shows; whether any more Republicans publicly announce their opposition or any Democrats show weakness; and, finally, what documents, if any, Hagel coughs up. The weekend also gives the White House, if so inclined, to come up with a Plan B — a qualified, competent nominee who won’t scare the living daylights out of the Senate.