Mitchell Reports | January 31, 2013
>> you stand by that -- those comments, senator hagel ?
>> well, senator, i stand by them because i made them, and --
>> you stand by -- were you right? were you correct in your assessment?
>> well, i would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out.
>> i think the committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge?
>> i'll explain why i made those comments, and --
>> i want to fn you are right or wrong. that's a direct question . i expect a direct answer.
>> chuck hagel in a tough moment with john mccain , defending himself about comments he made about the surge in iraq. will his answers be enough to overcome his critics. claire mchaskell is one of those questioning chuck hagel this morning, and she joins me now. thank you for joining us during a break. thanks for leaving the hearing room. senator, how is your -- what is your perspective as to how it went today?
>> i think hagel is much more comfortable asking questions than answering them. that's one bad habit i think you get into when you have been in the senate is that you can dish it out, but sometimes it's a little more difficult to take it. i am reassured by some very specific questions i asked that he does believe that all options are on the table with iran, that he does believe that iran is a sanctioning terrorist organization . that he does believe that we need to maintain our nuclear capability and cannot unilaterally disarm, so a lot of these things that are being brought up to try to disqualify him, frankly, are just not accurate. i think they've taken some of his votes and some of his comments out of context.
>> do you have any concerns that he is not going to be confirmed?
>> well, it feels more partisan than typically it does in the armed services committee today. i think that's unfortunate. i think we do our best work, especially in that committee, when we are unified behind the notion that we need to defend and protect our country. i think at the end of the day if people look at the facts and don't hoist hem by a stray comment here or there that he made when he was a senator, but look at the totally of his record as an enlisted member of the armed service who's searched in combat, and as somebody who has been widely laweded by both republicans and democrats for his expertise and capability in this area. now, clearly john mccain considers the surge personal, and the fact that his dear friend didn't agree with him about the surge clearly bugs him, and he wanted to make that the sum total of his questioning of senator hagel , and i think most members of the committee can look past that at some other issues that are also very important.
>> do you think you'll be comfortable enough with his record to vote for him?
>> well, one thing i'm not going to do is say how i'm going to vote until the confirmation hearings are over, until i've had a hands to look at his answers that he is going to make on the record. i want to make sure that this is someone who will have a strong voice and can give good advice and that understands the priorities, especially some of mine, as it relates to auditing the pentagon and making sure that we stop some of the wasteful contracting that we have engaged in in iraq and afghanistan.
>> i wanted to also ask you about immigration. have you decided whether you can support the approach outlined by the senators that negotiated the bipartisan proposal the other day?
>> well, i do think we've made progress since 2007 . we are deporting record numbers of emgrants and the majority of those are prioritized because of criminal activity. we haven't stepped up enforcement against employers who knowingly violate the late, is and those are two priorities of mine. we've strengthened the border. we've doubled the amount of border protection, and i think it's time to look at whether or not we can ask people to pay a price for breaking the law and get at the bask the line, and i will take a look at the details making sure that no one is rewarded for breaking the law , but rather, there is a penalty involved.
>> senator mchaskell, again, thank you for coming out of the hearings, for giving us a flavor of what is going on. it was a really very kind thing of you to do today.
>> thank you.