Mitchell Reports | February 18, 2013
>> me now for our daily fix, washington post columnist ruth marcus , and nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker. welcome both. first to you, ruth. you've talked -- you've written a lot about hagel and about the ted cruz fell nonnon, and all of the piling on. we now hear in the weekend interviews that there's going to be an interview and they expect it to go through, john mccain and others are going to vote against. we had the votes in terms of the cloture vote on friday, on wednesday, rather, in terms of having 58 votes, but now what is this whole issue of the rutgers speech?
>> i think it's all about sort of desperate search to find something. usually when you are asking questions about a nominee, and i'm a really big dlooefr believer in oversight and the advisory process, but usually you have a reason to think there's someone there. this is just scouring the kitchen cabinets and seeing if you can find any little dust balls any place, and i think they are just -- you and i have seen it so many times. if you can run out the clock enough, maybe something will come up, and this is just sort of playing for that end of the football game moment of something turning up. he will be confirmed, and i have to say i don't think he performed well at all, to put it mildly, in the hearings. i also think especially this last stretch makes republicans look terrible also.
>> let's look at lindsey graham yesterday talking about the rutgers speech and what more could come up.
>> allegedly senator hagel said that the u.s. state department was an adjunct of the israeli foreign ministers office, which i think would be breathtaking if he said that to have such a view. i got a letter back from senator hagel in response to my question, did you say that and do you believe that, and the letter said he did not recall saying that, he disavows that statement.
>> it's not enough for you?
>> well, if, in fact, that's true, that would end that matter because he has previously inside a book that the jewish lobby influences the u.s. senate and makes us -- pushes us to make very bad decision. if the second statement were true, he said that the secretary of state's office is under the control of the israeli foreign ministers . those two together would show an edge and a view of the israeli u.s. relationship way out of the mainstream, so i'll just take him at his word medicals something new comes along.
>> kristen welker, what does the white house have to say about this? they seem to be confident that he is going to get through next week.
>> they continue to be confident, andrea . i can tell you that they believe these questions that are being raised by republicans are pure politics. they have confidence of this confirmation moving forward. i can also tell you according to my sources, that administration officials will be working on this, will be in contact with folks on the hill in the coming days to make sure that there aren't any more bumps in the road. of course, every day that this goes on, it's not great for hagel . not great for president obama . they want to see this get resolved as quickly as possible. at this point in time they're still confident. as you know last week, they were holding that cloture vote. vice president biden was reaching tout members on the hill at this point in time. i don't have any education that he is making phone calls this week, but, again, senior administration officials will be engaged in this process in the coming days to make sure that there are no more bumps, andrea .
>> and kristen , i know you are still in florida where the president has another day of golf today, although the wind looks like it won't be a great golf day. want to ask you about that in a moment. first, let's look at what john mccain had to say about benghazi . chuck hagel was, of course, not in office during benghazi , but that has been a big issue. this is mccain and david gregory on "meet the press" over benghazi .
>> we have had a massive coverup on the part of --
>> a massive coverup of what? i mean, susan -- wait a minute. susan rice said there was a lot of confusion. i'm asking you --
>> do you care, david? do you care? i'm asking you. i'm asking you, do you care whether four americans died?
>> i just asked you a coverup of what?
>> of the information concerning the deaths of four brave americans. the information has not been forthcoming. you can obviously believe that it has. i know that it hasn't.
>> of course, benghazi is another issue they're holding against hagel because it gives them leverage.
>> right. look, that is a common tactic in washington. we saw it with the brennan nomination actually from the democratic side getting leverage to get some of the information about the legal analysis for drone strikes. so fair game . the thing you have to question here is how much is this about? there's a massive coverup of benghazi and how much is it about? we're going to look for anything for hagel . the question that i guess i would have asked senator mccain is if it's such a massive coverup and you are so exercised about it, where -- why weren't you demand this stuff and holding up john kerry 's nomination because, all of all, he is going ahead the department he is heading the department that dealt with benghazi .
>> good point. he only had three negative votes. one of them ted cruz , the aforever mentioned ted cruise. kristen , you are in florida where we're told the president is golfing on a private course and with, of all people tiger woods over the weekend. 27 holes. no coverage by the white house press corps . in past presidencies there has been at least a photo opportunity at the first tee or later on. that's how we all know about bill clinton 's golfing attire and some of the other interesting presidential golf partners. what's going on there because i saw a protest from the white house correspondents association against the fact that they would completely shut down and that the travel pool, the group which you know better than anyone, goes with the president and gets that moment or two, a quick picture, has had no visible sighting of the president for the last two and a half days.
>> right. well, what happened yesterday, andrea , is that a reporter with golf digest was the first person to tweet out the president was, in fact, golfing with tiger woods . the number two golfer in the world. of course, white house reporters pounced, wanted to be able to confirm that. we didn't get confirmation from the white house until several hours later. as you point out, the republ with the president, the "pool reporters" weren't given access to any pictures or any footage of that game, so the white house press corps association did say that they would ultimately like more access. we did get a reaction from the white house , which said that they handled it in the same manner that they always do, which is to release the president's golf partners towards the end of the day , which to be fair is generally what the bhous does.
>> kristen , do you generally --
>> as you point out, andrea --
>> i was going to ask, does the pool generally get at least a picture of the president sometime during the match?
>> well, it depends. on an average sunday, not necessarily. we have gotten a picture, you'll remember, when president obama played with house speaker john boehner . we it get a picture. in this instance, i think that there was a lot of interest in having a picture because, of course, it was an historic moment. this was the first time that the president played with tiger woods , and we are told, again, according to a golf reporter, that the president said to tiger that he was glad that he was playing better, so there was a lot of interest in what was happening and, of course, of seeing visual representation and at this point having gotten that. andrea .
>> of course. questions occur. did they not permit a picture because it's tiger woods and because some people might object to tiger woods and the controversy of the past? is it because they didn't want to see the president -- show the president vacationing and he is intigs entitled to a vacation on a weekend we're facing the sequester and the congress is also vacationing? is it because it's his second term, and he is feeling more relaxed about doing things that he really always wanted to do? it's just raising some issues.
>> those are certainly some of the -- those are certainly some of the questions that are being raise and that have been raised. as you point out, tiger woods got a lot of negative headlines in recent years, but, of course, the white house pressing back against those types of allegations and making the point that, look, this is a private vacation. the president is at the florian, which is a private golf course , and enjoying his vacation, but, of course, he is in his second term now taking a quick vacation before he heads back to deal with issues like the sequester and immigration, so certainly keeping that image of him playing golf, having a vacation, under wraps at least for now. an trae.
>> well, nobody begrudges ruth marcus -- nobody begrudges the president some vacation time.
>> the president should golf as much as he wants really. i think it's really important for presidents to get downtime. i was just -- and that's just really important. at the same time my response to the white house press office is -- as kristen pointed out, when he is having a golf game that they want publicity about, for example, his famous golf foursome with the speaker of the house , they are very quick to put out a photo of it. this one has lots of reasons that you and kristen mentioned that they might want want a photo out or any other coverage of it, and that's why, and so -- i just think it's unfair to the reporters who were there.
>> ruth marcus , kristen welker, come on home, kristen . looks like you had a very cold weekend, by the way. you were bundled up all weekend. i was watching you.
>> i was.
>> this is not that easy a duty. thanks, kristen .
>> there was a cold snap