Secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel has yet to respond to two formal letters sent by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) last week that requested additional information on his controversial speeches and access to video recordings currently under seal, according to a Senate source.
Graham sent Hagel a letter on Feb. 20 asking him to comment on a contemporaneous report that he made disparaging remarks about Israel during a 2010 speech. The senator sent a second letter on Feb. 22 requesting that Hagel grant access to archival video recordings of his speeches.
“You have not responded to my [Feb. 20] letter on the accuracy of a contemporaneous report of remarks you delivered at Rutgers University in April 2010,” Graham wrote in the Friday letter. “The 2010 contemporaneous report claims you said that Israel is becoming an apartheid state, that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a radical, that the Hamas terrorist organization should be brought into negotiations and that Israel stands in violation of multiple United Nations resolutions.”
“Sen. Hagel, given the threats we face in the world and the public confidence level needed to be an effective secretary of defense, I believe the airing of your views and record is critical to the confirmation process,” Graham continued. “Will you give interested parties access to the archives at the University of Nebraska and the Washington Speakers Bureau?”
The Washington Free Beacon first reported on the contemporaneous account of Hagel’s 2010 Rutgers University speech last week. Reporters have been blocked from accessing Hagel’s archive at the University of Nebraska, which includes video recordings of his speeches.
Hagel had not responded to either of Graham’s letter as of Monday morning, according to a senior Senate aide.
A spokesperson for Hagel directed reporters on Friday to a statement released by the University of Nebraska, which she said “makes clear that it controls the Archives.”
“The University of Nebraska at Omaha holds the Chuck Hagel archive,” the statement said. “Once the archive is processed and indexed, according to the standards and best practices of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), they will be open to the public. Until that time, they are not open to the public.”
Previously, the Hagel campaign indicated it would respond to formal requests from senators. An official working on Hagel’s confirmation said “[Hagel] will be responding to this latest letter, as he's done with every other he's received.”
While the Hagel camp has not replied to Graham, they have swiftly pushed back against a recent critique of his fashion choices published by ladies’ magazine Women’s Wear Daily.
The magazine gave Hagel a B-minus on style, recommending “antipuffiness cream” for his under-eye circles and contending that the “padded, sloped shoulder [of his suit jacket] makes him come across as weak.” However, the magazine praised his haircut, saying it “works for his silver fox look.”
Hagel’s confirmation team objected to the mediocre grade, according to Politico.
“WWD should really be grading on more of a curve—haven't they seen how most members of Congress dress?" a source close to Hagel told Politico. "It's like their fashion sense is stuck in the bad suit department from 1995."
A spokesperson for Hagel did not say on Monday whether the defense secretary nominee would respond to Graham’s letters.