HBO host Bill Maher said Friday the Israelis control the U.S. government based on the statements of Republican politicians while discussing the embattled nomination of Chuck Hagel.
"Based on every statement I've heard out of any Republican over the past two years," Maher said on his Friday show, "the Israelis are controlling our government."
In a contemporaneous account of that event, Hagel is described as saying the State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister's office.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) wrote a letter of inquiry to Hagel Friday about the alleged comment.
"Given the importance of U.S. policy towards the Middle East and the Secretary of Defense’s direct role in implementing this policy, it is critical that we have a better understanding of your remarks before we vote on your nomination," they wrote.
"Did you, in fact make this statement at the Rutgers event or have you ever made similar comments? If you made these comments or similar comments, please explain what you meant. Finally, does such a statement in any way reflect your views on the U.S.-Israeli relationship?"
Hagel has since responded to the senators, and said he does not recall making the statement.
Graham, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," said he will "take him at his word, until someone else comes along."
Maher has a history of controversial statements, which entered the political realm in 2012, after Maher donated $1 million to the Obama-affiliated Super PAC, Priorities USA.