Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was not very pleased with the answers given by Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan during his confirmation hearing.
“Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee,” McCain said, enunciating each word.
Shanahan was announced as the nominee months back, but his hearing has been delayed as he worked to untangle from his financial obligations.
McCain did not hold back on the nominee. He questioned Shanahan, asking if he supported providing lethal defensive aid to Ukraine, which has been fighting separatists backed by Russia.
“The provision of lethal defensive equipment as part of our already robust security assistance program is an option I plan to look at closely if I am confirmed,” Shanahan wrote. “I do not have access to classified assessments of the performance of the Ukrainian and Russian militaries in the course of the conflict, and particularly the impact of the security assistance we have provided thus far.”
Shanahan’s answer did not please the Arizona Senator.
“Inexplicably, you responded by saying you have to look at the issue,” McCain said. “That’s not satisfactory. Mr. Shanahan, would you wish to abridge or amend your statement?”
Shanahan then responded by saying that he does support giving lethal weapons to the Ukraine.
McCain responded by saying:
“I’m glad to hear you changed your opinion from what was submitted, but it’s still disturbing to me,” McCain said. “It’s still disturbing to me after all these years that you would say you have to look at the issue. Have you not been aware of the issue? Have you not been aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin? Have you missed all that in your duties at one of the major defense corporations of this country?”
Shanahan was then asked by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) how he would respond to Russia’s violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
“I think the Russians are adversarial,” he continued. “I think through the whole of government, we need to deal with their — whether we call it aggression or their disruption to our interests. I, at this point, don’t have any specific recommendations. If confirmed, I will spend a significant amount of time dealing with Russia.”
That answer did not sit well with McCain. He went on to express his displease with Shanahan.
“Mr. Shanahan, you’re not making me happy,” he said. “We expect straightforward answers and that you just ducked at basically every question that Sen. Fischer asked you.
“Now, I’m telling you, Mr. Shanahan, I believe in the Constitution of the United States, which says that the Congress of the United States shall provide advice and consent. I’m not going to sit here and watch you duck every question and expect that everything is going to go smoothly. It’s not.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 20, 2017