Kirk issues stinging statement against Hagel:
Rumors have been swirling among beltway outlets for awhile now that U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's office has been leading a campaign against former Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, the Obama administration's pick for Secretary of Defense. They include yesterday's BuzzFeed piece that Kirk was handing out anti-Hagel literature on the Senate floor.
The day after Hagel took a beating from Republican members of a Senate confirmation panel, Kirk, in his statement rebuked Hagel for describing the Iranian government as elected and legitimate, and for his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran. Kirk noted that while he respected Hagel's military service, he could not support his nomination.
Kirk, a Highland Park Republican who spent 10 years representing the heavily Jewish 10th Congressional District, has made tough Iran sanctions a hallmark issue - something he worked on even from a hospital bed as he was recovering from a stroke last year.
Read the full statement below:
Senator Kirk Statement on Chuck Hagel Nomination for Secretary of Defense
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement regarding Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense:
“In 2009, Iranian leaders stole a presidential election from the people of Iran. When the people protested, the mullahs ordered their murders and mass arrests. We will never forget Neda and many other young Iranians whose lives were taken by brutal dictators. Today, the Iranian regime continues to deny the people of Iran the kind of basic human rights we in America take for granted. The world must not allow this illegitimate, terror-sponsoring regime to acquire a nuclear weapons breakout capability.
“During yesterday's confirmation hearing, Senator Hagel instinctively called the Iranian government both elected and legitimate. He initially offered strong support for containment of Iran, rather than President Obama's stated policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout. He could not clearly explain his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran – opposition as recent as 2008. And at no time did he state his position on whether the European Union should formally designate Iran's terror proxy, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization – a critical step to cut off the flow of funds to a group responsible for the murders of some 280 American citizens.
“I appreciate and respect Senator Hagel's record of service to our country, especially as a decorated combat veteran. However, based on Senator Hagel’s testimony yesterday, on top of my existing concerns regarding his past statements and votes, I cannot support Senator Hagel’s nomination."