At a confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., berated the deputy defense secretary nominee, Patrick Shanahan, for a wishy-washy answer to whether, in his position, he would advocate for providing lethal defensive aid to Ukraine.
McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, even threatened to block Shanahan’s nomination.
“Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning,” McCain cautioned at one point. “Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee. Am I perfectly clear?”
Shanahan, a Boeing executive, provided a prewritten answer on the subject of arming Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists in its east. He said he would have to look into the issue more before taking a stance. McCain, who supports giving more military aid to Ukraine, called that response “inexplicable.”
“It’s not satisfactory, Mr. Shanahan,” McCain said in an even but stern tone. “Would you wish to abridge or amend your statement?”
“I support equipping the Ukrainians,” Shanahan responded.
Later in the exchange, McCain contended that Shanahan’s position at Boeing should beget more knowledge on the issue and unloaded on the nominee.
“Your response to that question was, frankly, very disappointing to me,” he began. “You have been associated for the last I don’t know how many years with one of the five corporations that provide 90 percent of the defensive weaponry to defend this nation. And your answer was, ‘Well, I’d have to look at the issue.’ It’s not good enough, Mr. Shanahan.
“I’m glad to hear you have changed your opinion from what was submitted, but it’s still disturbing to me,” he said. “It’s still disturbing to me after all these years that you would say that you have to look at the issue.”
He continued: “Have you not been aware of the issue? Have you not been aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by Vladimir Putin? Have you missed all that in your duties at one of the major defense corporations in this country?”
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