House Committee on Foreign Affairs chair Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) said Tuesday “it is impossible” for him to see how defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is the “right pick” for that post.
“The long list of policy concerns that have arisen makes it impossible for me to see how Sen. Hagel is the right pick for one of the most important and demanding positions at this very challenging time,” Royce told the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin.
A pair of contemporary accounts of speeches given by Hagel at Rutgers University in 2007 and 2010 have drawn scrutiny in the last week.
Hagel allegedly told a Rutgers audience in 2010 that Israel is approaching an apartheid state, and described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “radical,” according to an attendee of the event, as the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.
In a contemporaneous account of Hagel’s 2007 appearance at Rutgers, Hagel is described by a supporter as saying the State Department is now an adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.
Hagel said he did not recall making the 2007 remark and disavowed it in a letter to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.).
Graham told “Fox News Sunday” that he will take Hagel at his word.