POLITICS

WH: ‘Uniquely qualified’ Hagel doesn’t need to answer questions about speeches

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Senate Democrats postponed the vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Defense Secretary after he refused to provide information about any payments for speeches he received from “foreign sources,” but President Obama believes Hagel has answered enough questions.

“Senator Hagel has provided extensive information about his activities,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. “We continue to urge the Senate to move quickly.  This is a uniquely qualified nominee for the position of Secretary of Defense, A.  And B, the position of Secretary of Defense needs to be filled.”

A group of senators asked Hagel for information about paid speeches for foreign companies, but he declined to answer them saying that he has “a fiduciary duty that includes the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of non-public corporate information.”

The lawmakers were not satisfied with that response. “Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request [for more information] suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’s responsibility to advice and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other senators wrote in a letter, as The Washington Free Beacon reported.

“This Committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly for foreign sources,” they also said.

Carney avoided the financial issue when discussing Hagel today. “I think there’s been a question about past speeches,” he said during the gaggle.  “And as you know, Senator Hagel has conducted an exhaustive search for all of his speaking engagements over the past five years, as the committee requested.  He has provided all available prepared texts and transcripts from those speeches to the committee.  There are some speeches that Senator Hagel gave for which there were no prepared remarks and no transcripts.  A list of those speeches has also been provided to the committee.”

 

 

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