President Joe Biden’s nominee for top Pentagon policy advisor was met with sharp criticism from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday over his fiery tweets attacking former President Donald Trump and Republicans.
Colin Kahl, who served as national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, also faced questions on his previous support for the Iran nuclear deal and how he would approach that issue now.
A number of GOP senators said they were troubled by tweets Kohl posted during Donald Trump’s presidency and they would oppose his nomination. It wasn’t clear whether there was enough opposition to derail his confirmation.
“We know that there is a new administration and that we will have policy disagreements that we will all try to work through,” the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, said.
“But how will you rectify the fact that many Americans, including those who work at the Department of Defense, know you only through your very partisan comments? How can we be confident that you will be a model of nonpartisan policy analysis — which is what the job requires — if you are confirmed?”
Kahl said he worked on a bipartisan basis in his previous jobs in the Obama administration, which included a stint as deputy defense secretary for Middle East issues from 2009-11.
He told the panel, “This is not a political job, it’s a policy job … I have a long track record of putting politics aside and working on policy.”
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others read a number of Kahl’s tweets that condemned Republicans and the Trump administration.
In one, Kahl said Republicans who supported Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in 2019 “debase themselves at the [altar] of Trump — they are the party of ethnic cleansing.”
The GOP used to pride itself as a party that put values front and center in US foreign policy.
Now—as they debase themselves at the alter of Trump—they are the party of ethnic cleansing. https://t.co/FNssbkxPQd
— Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl) October 24, 2019
Cotton said the “volatile” tweets would hurt his ability to work with Congress, adding “your judgment around war and peace are almost always wrong.”
“Dr. Kahl, I think a lot of us are trying to figure out a critical issue,” Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said.
“Are you a balanced, measured national security professional who can help lead the Pentagon? Or, to be a little bit more frank, are you a political hack who has a history of going off on Twitter by attacking those who don’t share your politics?”
In response, Kahl offered an apology, saying there were times he got carried away on social media.
“There were a number of positions that President Trump took that I strongly opposed,” he said. “I think the language that I used in opposing those was sometimes disrespectful, and for that, I apologize.”
Kahl isn’t the first Biden nominee whose history on Twitter has raised red flags in the Senate.
Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, withdrew from consideration after her own vitriolic tweets targeting Republican leaders drew strong opposition to her confirmation.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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