Mitchell Reports | January 25, 2013
>>> the president has a new chief of staff today, and he has nominated a new foreign policy team. take a closer look at the changing of the guard for the second term. joining me now jonathan kapart and msnbc contributor and chris with national journal , and olivia bowe miller with the "new york times". it's been a long week. get me through this, you guys. jonathan , first to you. we see today dennis mcdonough, the new chief of staff. we've seen john kerry 's confirmation hearing next friday. we're going to have on january 31st we'll have chuck hagel 's confirmation hearing at the armed services committee . hillary clinton 's long farewell. how is it shaping up? what can we read into the big decisions that the president has made?
>> well, clearly the president especially with the announcements today, is filling out his team. the team that's going to carry him through to the second term, and it's also -- the first term was all about the folks that were close to the president personally, folks who worked with him in chicago, folks that worked with him in his senate office, on the presidential campaign trail, and this go-round it appears that the president is appointing people who are close to him philosophically, idealogically, from a policy point of view, and so that's why you see someone like senator kerry who, as you've reported many times, has undertaken many missions on behalf of the president. some public. some not so public.
>> think senator hagel will get the nod.
>> you've been following this very closely. elizabeth, in covering the pentagon, what is the mood at the pentagon about chuck hagel coming in?
>> well, to some degree you know, the --
>> they salute.
>> they don't have a lot of opinion they share with us. they also say it doesn't make that much difference to them who is defense secretary . it will make a difference as the troops come out of afghanistan. that will be the president's policy for that drawdown schedule. you can be sure that what we know about senator hagel that he is -- he is very much in sync with the president about wanting troops out more quickly than perhaps some of the commanders would like.
>> and there's some pretty big decisions, including how don't ask don't tell gets implemented, whether benefits are available to couples and especially to married couples in advance of a supreme court decision on doma, as well as the decisions on how quickly get integrated into combat forces. that's all going to be on hagel 's plate.
>> that's all on hagel 's plate. you see a lot of republicans who are uneasy about giving chuck hagel the raines on that. you had jim the ranking member on armed services say he won't be able to vote for him, but i think when you have chuck schumer , has kind of cleared the way for a lot of --
>> kirsten gillibrand leaning on it.
>> he has been able to neutralize the jewish and israel problems that he has had with chuck schumer . i'm not sure he is going to be able to quiet all the republicans that are nervous about him, but, again, this is the president's choice. he is a republican. i think it will be tough for republicans to oppose him in block.
>> barring some unusual circumstance that we don't know about coming up at the hearing, jonathan , presidents do get the cabinets that they want most often, but we've also seen that the republican opposition has really struck by watching the republican questioning of both hillary clinton and john kerry . hillary clinton questioned about benghazi, clearly a setback, and a major crisis revealing that the state department was not prepared for the kind of security and threat warnings that they should have been on top of, but the questioning of hillary clinton by senator johnson and some of the others was, let's just say, less than effective.
>> less than effective, and, you know, i would say as i wrote yesterday, rude, disrespectful. i think what we're seeing here is senator johnson is a first term member of the senate. he is someone who is a darling of the tea party , and as we have seen, especially since the 2010 midterm elections, the folks associated with the tea party are different brand of legislator, different brand of republican. they don't like washington . they certainly don't like the obama administration, and they've come to washington to change the way things are done, and what we saw in the rhetorical fight between secretary clinton and senator johnson was a clash of sort of two systems, one the tea party system that, you know, flies in the face of decorum in washington , but then it went up against secretary clinton and old washington hand who has been under the national spotlight and global spotlight for 20 years sitting in front of that -- in front of that committee and other committees for many, many years, so she knew how to handle them, thou.
>> she knew how to handle them, and john kerry took them to school yesterday when johnson said to kerry , well, we don't know what happened in benghazi yet, and kerry said, well, did you sit with us for hours when we on the committee watched those tapes, the videotapes? we know exactly what happened. we had intelligence experts taking us through it. well, no, i wasn't there. weren't you there? it was available to all of us. i mean, they're not doing their homework. briefly, chris, on guns, the end of a very of a difficult and emotional week on all sides. joe biden moving much more rapidly than people expected, the white house moves. still up against a lot of opposition.
>> a lot of opposition. we saw that yesterday with senator dianne feinstein 's press conference. she had victims of gun tragedies on the hits and reporters tearing up. that's kind of unusual and i think that even with that kind of emotion an assault weapons ban is very tough. we saw joe biden moderate that by saying i care about how many bullets are in a clip than a certain kind of gun. i think house republicans are trying to figure out where can they go on this? waiting for the senate as we talked about on this show before they are forced in to it. i think we get background checks and limited ammunition clips.
>> thank you very much. elizabeth, hagel confirmed?
>> looks like the white house expecting that 60 votes at least.
>> thank you very much. jonathan , as always, thank you.
>> thank you.