NewsNation | January 31, 2013
>>> following big breaking news. the tense back and forth within the last 30 minutes between senator lindsey graham and senate nominee chuck hagel . he was confronted with past remarks the former senator made that leaders on capitol hill are intimidated by the, quote, jewish lobby .
>> name one person in your opinion who's intimidated by the israeli lobby in the united states senate .
>> well, first --
>> name one.
>> i don't know.
>> well, why would you say it?
>> i didn't have in mind a specific person.
>> sir, do you agree it's provocative statement. i can't think of a more provocative thing to say about the relationship between the united states and israel and the senate or the congress than what you said. name one dumb thing we have been goaded in to do because of the pressure of the israeli or jewish lobby .
>> i have already stated that i regret the term nlg.
>> you said back then it makes us do dumb things. you can't name one senator intimidated. now give me one example of the dumb things we're pressured to do up here.
>> we were talking in that interview about the middle east . about positions. about israel .
>> now that exchange followed another faceoff earlier today with senator john mccain over the war in iraq .
>> will you please answer the question? will you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since until nam? were you correct or incorrect? yes or no?
>> my reference --
>> are you -- the question is, were you right or wrong? that's a pretty straightforward question.
>> well --
>> i would like to answer whether you're right or wrong and then you're free to elaborate.
>> well, i'm not going to give you a yes or no answer on a lot of things.
>> let the record show he refused to answer the question. please go ahead.
>> well, if you would like me to explain why --
>> i actually would like an answer. yes or no.
>> well, i'm not going to give you a yes or no.
>> i think it's far more come placated than that.
>> senator mccain said hagel 's refusal to answer the question could play a role in whether he votes to confirm his fellow vietnam war . let me bring in a member of the armed services committee against hagel 's nomination. thank you, sir, for your time, i appreciate it, mr. wicker.
>> thank you. thank you for having me on the show.
>> let me first ask you, how do you measure or what is your opinion of chuck hagel 's performance so far?
>> well, i don't think it's going very well for senator hagel . you know, there's a telling part at the beginning of the hearing where it was mentioned that senator kerry, the newly confirmed secretary of state, came out of his committee on a unanimous basis. confirmed with only dissenting votes in the senate. i think it's very, very telling that although a number of us disagree with senator kerry on a number of issues, we have confidence in him to represent capably the united states view and, frankly, a lot of us served with senator hagel . i think the fact it's going to be close, there's hardly any republican support for him from people who worked with him and in caucuses with him and on committees with him. i think it speaks volumes about the level of confidence that we don't have about this individual to head really the number one national security job in the united states .
>> i want to get to the votes in a second. some of the number that is are out there. but i want to play your exchange with chuck hagel during this hearing today. your questioning of him regarding israel . let's play it please.
>> when you talked about the jewish lobby , were you talking about apack? were you talking about norpac in were you talking about christians united for israel ? and do you still believe that their success in this town is because of intimidation?
>> i have already said i regret referencing the jewish lobby . i should have said pro- israel lobby . i think it's the only time on the record that i've ever said that. now, you all have done a lot of work with my record and, yes, it is appropriate, by the way.
>> senator, is that answer acceptable to you?
>> well, he didn't say who he was referring to. we may be able to get to that. was he talking about apac? was he talking about the various christian organizations that deeply support israel ? we didn't get an answer to that. maybe we will later on.
>> are you a no? i know you said that before.
>> yes. i'm absolutely a no and there's nothing that's gone on today to counter what we all know. that you could not pick a united states senator from the last decade that has had more anti-israeli comments, that has had more troublesome votes or more troublesome positions or statements against the nation of israel . this vulnerable democracy in the middle east than chuck hagel . it's a stunning choice by a president obama from someone who says he's supportive of the jewish state .
>> you have thad cochran to vote for confirmation for el. first read says it puts it about 56. the question is, if all of the democrats support mr. hagel , do republicans really pursue a filibuster against their former colleague and the answer is, what?
>> well, the answer is that i would consider that but it's something that i would have to think long and hard about and not made a judgment about that so i cannot tell you how i would come down because the hearing isn't over. the follow-up questions on the record aren't over. but it is a very troublesome nomination for someone like me who really, really supports the right of this little country of israel to exist in such a hostile environment. as well as all of the problems that senator hagel has with regard, really, to the global leadership of the united states . i think it's -- he could not have picked a more troublesome, out of the mainstream nominee and i'm not alone. "the washington post " in an editorial early this year begged the president not to choose senator hagel as being totally out of the mainstream.
>> senator wicker, thank you for your time. i greatly appreciate it.