Yesterday, Glenn learned Senator Rand Paul was one of four Republicans to vote in favor of the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as America’s new Secretary of Defense. Hagel has a very controversial history, once referring to the United States as the “biggest bully” on the planet and holds a concerning record on Israel and Iran. Needless to say, Glenn doesn’t believe this is the man who should be advising the president on national security issues, and wanted to ask the Senator about his decision.
This morning, Rand Paul joined the radio program to explain his decision to vote in favor of Hagel’s nomination, where he stands on the nomination of John Brennan as the CIA director, and what’s going to happen with the sequester.
“We beg you, help us understand your decision to vote for Hagel,” Glenn said to Rand.
“I hope I can,” the Senator responded. “You know, a lot of people have been confused by this. I’ll try the best I can to try to explain it to you.
First of all I was the deciding vote to filibuster him. The only way to defeat him was filibuster. The only way to delay him was through filibuster. The only way to get information on him was through filibuster. So we had 41 votes. I was called and lobbied hard from the other side to change the 41. I was the 41st vote to keep the filibuster going.
Within three days many Republicans announced they weren’t going to filibuster anymore, yet we didn’t get any information, which is why we have filibustering. We never had 51 votes to defeat him, but we had 41 for a while.
We come back the next week and I vote again to filibuster him — i was one of 27, but that’s when the game was over. There was no stopping him when 27 voted. 14 people bailed on us, and that’s when Hagel was nominated.
On the final passage I did vote to allow him to go through, mainly because I said all along that the way I treat political appointees is that for the most part I give deference to the President. I will fight tooth and nail to get information and to get information in advance. But, in this case, I decided that no information came forward that would have eventually disqualified him.”
“I can respect that. You’re an advise and consent kind of guy,” Glenn responded.
But Glenn still seemed skeptical. Before letting Paul transition into the bigger battle approaching with Brennan, Glenn had a few more on his Hagel decision.
“But why do you vote to support him?” Glenn asked. “Why wouldn’t you vote ‘present’ or ‘no’? I mean, you’re fine with him? you’re fine with Hagel?”
“Well, no. It one of these things where i don’t treat it the same as an issue. I treat it as a presidential nomination to a political office,” he answered. “I think the president does have the right to form his cabinet. I voted for John Kerry and I got some grief for that,” he continued, “I agree with nothing that Kerry represents … I just have made the decision that on these type of appointees, unless I can find information that they’ve taken money from a foreign government or given us information that was not accurate, then I go ahead and let the president make his political appointees.”
The senator went on to explain that he also had bigger goals in mind. He explained that he wants the Republicans to stick together and help him get information on Brennan and that his role, in being a part of the filibuster team, will now allow him to get help with the Brennan nomination.
Brennan, currently nominated for the position of CIA Director, has made concerning statements about limitations on drones strikes — basically that he doesn’t have any. This is something both Glenn and the Senator find disturbing.
But, if Rand Paul is trying to be consistent on his votes, will he vote for Brennan if he makes it through the hearing? That’s what Glenn wanted to know.
“I’m going to do everything I can to stop him until there’s a public pronouncement from the White House saying that they won’t kill Americans on American soil without judicial review,” Senator Paul said.
“I think the leverage of the filibuster with this is what I’m using to try to get the White House to admit publicly – and if they do admit publicly that they will not and do not claim the authority to do drone strikes in America – basically I will have created a precedent,” Sen. Paul explained.
Senator Paul went on to add, “Even though it’s not a law, it’ll have been a president admitting that he doesn’t have authority. And no president (Republican or Democratic) likes to ever admit that they don’t have the authority.”
Glenn had one final question for the Senator. And this time he got a answer he really liked.
“Please tell me the sequester stands,” Glenn said.
“I think it does,” Paul responded.
He added that he has a bill the shows you can do the sequester with zero layoffs. It proves to the President that there are places where spending cuts can occur without job loses — his plan cuts $85billion in one year through not hiring new workers for federal jobs when people retire, cutting foreign aid, and decreasing federal salaries to match the private sector.
“The sequester is just a slow down in the rate of growth,” the Senator said. “It’s not even really significant cuts over 10 years. The president is parading a bunch of police and firemen who aren’t even paid for by the federal government. He’s being dishonest with us.”