White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to discuss the positions of former Sen. Chuck Hagel on Israel and Iran when pressed on Hagel’s potential nomination as Secretary of Defense at a Thursday press briefing:
JESSICA YELLIN: As Senator, President Obama repeatedly traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan with then-Sen. Chuck Hagel. He has said flattering things about him, appointed him to his intelligence advisory board, and obviously he thinks very highly of him. But what would the president say to pro-Israel advocates who are concerned—or voiced strong concerns about his positions on sanctions, Iran, and Israel?
CARNEY: You are asking me, I can tell, to engage in conversation about personnel decisions the president is making and will make, and I have no opinions to offer.
YELLIN: Well, we know Sen. Hagel has met with the president and the vice president.
CARNEY: The president thinks very highly of Sen. Hagel. I think a lot of people in Washington and around the country, and especially in Sen. Hagel’s home state, think very highly of him, but I have no news to make for you on that process.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday on Hagel’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which is being investigated for allegations it violated U.S. sanctions on Iran:
The revelation could complicate the possible nomination of Hagel, who has come under sharp criticism for what critics describe as his troubling foreign policy views, which include calling for direct unconditional talks with Iran. Hagel reportedly met with President Barack Obama on Dec. 4 to discuss the Secretary of Defense position, according to Bloomberg News, and haspassed the White House counsel’s vetting process.
Hagel was appointed in 2009 to Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board. The paid position placed him in close contact with the bank’s senior leadership.
Germany’s Deutsche Bank is reportedly being probed by U.S. authorities forviolating a trade embargo on Iran’s oil and energy sector, which is believed to play a key role in Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program.
Deutsche Bank denies these allegations.