tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN January 12, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PST
just minutes from now retired general mattis makes his case to become the next defense secretary of the united states. former combat marine enjoys bipartisan support but lawmakers have to grant an exception to an existing law. mattis has not been retired from the military, the mandatory seven years in toward being eligible to become defense secretary. at the top of the hour, former presidential candidate dr. ben carson also appears before a senate committee. trump's former rival is poised to lead the department of housing and urban development. he'll face questions over his lack of government experience and his own statement that he be a bad fit to lead a government agency. also at the top of the next hour the kansas congressman mike pompeo will have to navigate a potential minefield as he's questioned about becoming the next director of the central intelligence agency. he'll be confronted with recent
trump's dismissal of the agency and an agency that's already distrustful of outsiders. donald trump's attack on the intelligence community delivers a direct jones from jaime clapper. he said he personally called the president-elect to push back against his accusations that the intel agency leaked embarrassing information. claims that russia has gathered compromising information on him. while we don't know what was said during that phone conversation, clapper does release a rare statement that raises some eyebrows on its own. let's go to our senior washington correspondent who is joining us with details. update our viewers. >> reporter: an extraordinary phone call from james clapper the director of national intelligence to donald trump. donald trump pointed that out in a tweet this morning saying this. james clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated made up,
phoney facts. too bad. but, wolf, that's not how intelligence officials are describing the material. he did not say the facts were made up or phoney they are unverified. the intelligence chief's thoughts were important enough to inform president obama and president-elect trump about. now clapper released a statement late last night saying this. let's take a look. he said i emphasize this document is not a u.s. intelligence community product and i do not believe the leaks came from within the ic. the ic or intelligence community has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. however, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are proswried the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security. so, wolf, the bottom line is this. clapper is trying to diffuse a feud between trump and the intelligence agencies, which he'll, of course, head up in
eight days when he takes office. clapper's comment is the first confirmation by government official that trump's briefing documents did include information on allegations against him by those russian operatives. jeff, stand by. dana bash, a significant moment when a statement like that is released confirming that, yes, they did brief the president-elect on these allegations that were leveled by at least someone in russia, allegations that certainly have not been corroborated. >> absolutely. something we should underscore with several lines. that's what cnn reported. what cnn reported is what the director of national intelligence has now said on the record. that they briefed the president-elect on this information, not necessarily -- and gave him this information, i should say. with a clear understanding that this is something that he felt was important for the
president-elect to say and to know. it is our obligation to ensure that policymakers are provide with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security. so, all of this is extraordinary but the fact that the current dni, director of national intelligence felt the need to not just call the president-elect, which is not unusual but for him to say this publicly, kind of underscores what the reality is of this intelligence. and especially as we are about to go into the confirmation hearing for the next cia director. obviously not the same position as clapper but part of the intelligence community. and so that is going to be at 10:00 a.m. one of the more fascinating confirmation hearings because he, mike pompeo is going to be having to walk this line between people who he needs to earn the trust of, the intelligence officials and the
president who also he has to have the trust of. >> going to be a very important moment to see how he walks that fine line. mike pompeo, a member of the house intelligence community, republican from kansas, but he's been nominated to become the next director of the central intelligence agency and gloria, this is a moment where mike pompeo will have to really shine if he's going to get confirmed. i assume he'll get confirmed but he has to walk that fine line between criticism that's been pretty severe that the president-elect has leveled against the intelligence community at the same time reassuring them that he'll be a good boss. >> every tv set at langley will be turned on to this hearing because they want to know that the person who is going to be their new boss at the cia is going to have their back. and even more than ever they want to know that because this president has been, president-elect has been so critical of the intelligence agency. if i can just go back to this statement for one minute. what clapper did not say and in
reading between the lines here i think there's been some question about why present this unverified information to the president-elect and to the president. if it's not verified why do it? and i think, and evan, my colleague here might be able to answer this question better than i can, it's because they want to say, look, these guys, you may not have had the greatest confidence that the russians were hacking hillary clinton, but they were hacking hillary clinton. we know yesterday donald trump finally admitted that they were. but i think perhaps part of the motive here was to say to donald trump, you could be next. there are no bounds on who they will spy on. we have this unverified information that shows they got their eyes on you and you could be next and this is our job to protect you. >> that's right.
they are doing their jobs. look, there is a bit of a feeling of being, feeling of under siege over there right now partly because they've never been in a place where incoming, the next leader of the country is attacking the people who basically is going to be leading between are going to be his eyes and ears in u.s. foreign policy and around the world and i think that's part of the issue here, the president-elect yesterday made, sent out a tweet in which he made a reference to nazi germany and that just was not a good thing to do when you're about to take office in just over a week. >> comparing the intelligence community that he's going to lead. >> by the way, the problem here is that, you know, this isn't just beginning this week. i think we know that the president-elect has been attacking the people in law enforcement, james comey the director of fbi going back to july when he didn't like the outcome of the fbi investigation into the hillary clinton emails.
so that is a part of what -- there's a long history here and i think at some point the president-elect has to sort of let go of all of that and invite these people to be his eyes and ears because that's what they are. >> what clap certificate saying is i want to give you this information because you need know what's out there about you and don't worry we have your back. >> right. exactly. >> we have your back. >> exactly. >> did you a lot of excellent reporting with our team on this and clapper and as others have pointed out clapper has confirmed what cnn's reporting was. very precise. very nuance. very detailed. the document itself and all these allegations, it had been out there for a long time, journalists, political operatives, campaign officials, u.s. government officials. >> never reported but rumored. >> it was the worst kept secret in washington. it really was. i think one of the things was,
you know, these people would not be doing their jobs if they didn't tell the president-elect look, this is the kind of thing that's been out there. this information that's out there. the kind of thing that the russians do. and you should know that it's out there. we don't know if it's true or whether any of this could ever be proven but you should know this. >> the reason you and your team at cnn reported this when they made a decision the u.s. intelligence community's leadership to formally brief president obama and formally brief president-elect trump on this, it was only at that point that we decided to report this. >> that's exactly right. wolf, i think it's fair to say that the intelligence agency leaders certainly have been taking aback. they have been shocked at the reaction from the president-elect. this is not the way they thought this would go. again, this is what you do with leadership in this country. members of congress. if the fbi learns that there's somebody work to target them the
fbi goes and briefs them and says hey we think you should know that you're a target of this. that is standard operating procedure for the intelligence community, for the fbi to do. >> everybody stand by for a moment because there are other important developments unfolding even as we speak while these confirmation hearings are about to begin this morning. republicans are also making good on their pledge to try to scuttle obamacare, the affordable care act. senate republicans passed a budget resolution that includes the repeal of president obama's signature health care law. democrats are trying to save it. we go to capitol hill for the latest details. tell our viewers what's happened now overnight. >> reporter: well, wolf, this is in essence the first tiny nail in the coffin for obamacare because the wheels are now turning towards repeal. the senate taking overnight a small but significant procedural step by approving this budget
measure which will become the vehicle for dismantling obamacare as republicans are working to do. we saw a real flury of speeches last night, the session lasting into the we hours of the morning. many protests from democrats for what the republicans are trying to do. >> up to 30 million americans will lose their health care with many thousands dying as a result. >> 95% of children in america now have affordable comprehensive health insurance. >> imagine becoming pregnant and have your insurer drop your coverage because you no longer are economic. >> reporter: now this will now likely be taken up by the house on friday. that will continue to inch this moving forward on capitol hill. but very notably although this repeal part is moving forward it's the replacement part that's still a tbz. we still don't have one singular plan from republicans. a variety of options they have.
some pressure being ratcheted by the president-elect saying yesterday he wants the repeal and replacement to happen almost simultaneously. >> thank you for that update. meanwhile there's been some new push back over donald trump's plan and it's going forward to avoid conflicts of interest by distancing himself from his business empire. the president-elect announced he'll relinquish his leadership of the trump organization, place his holdings in a trust run by his two adult sons, but that he will not be selling any of his stake. a group of democrats call that unacceptable and introduced a bill earlier this week that would require the president and the vice president to fully divest their assets. the director of office of government ethics called the president-elect's plan wholly inadequate. listen to this. >> the plan the president has announced doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that
every president in the past four decades has met. he's going to be asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives in conflicts around the world. so, no, i don't think the divestiture is too high a price to "today" to be president of the united states of america. >> let's bring back our panel. john king you're with us as well. president-elect of the united states soon to be the president of the united states says he's gone about as far as he's going to go. no more. >> the key point as far as he's going to go. this is different for everybody. this is different for donald trump. we should give him some grace, this is his life work, his brand, his name. the trump name is in big gold letters for a reason. he says he's giving it to his sons. i think the challenge going forward number one you hear the head of office of government ethics, republicans say he's an obama appointee. this hasn't hand in four
decades. there have been politicians in the last 40 years. we're in a different world. if mr. trump has decided this is as far as he has to go he has to be aware that every day of his administration, every action he takes whether raising or opposing the minimum wage, whether it's about wages and business regulation or whether it's about he travels to some country with he owns properties he'll face this scrutiny. welcome to the new administration. >> without divevestiture he's making money off his company. maybe not now but he will. that will continue to hang over his head even though his sons are now running the company. he hasn't divested himself. i think that's what the office of government ethics is concerned about. >> the political reporter for "the washington post" has done a lot of reporting. did he go further than you anticipated. you've been following this particular part of the story for a long time. >> no i didn't have much higher
hopes than this. this is about donald trump how he wants to spend his time and political capital as president. he had a chance to get this stuff off the board. instead he wants to spend apparently time litigating, literally litigating and politically litigating the limits of his conflicts of interest by choosing in a way that will leave him enmeshed in the decision and profits of his business. >> he argues and his lawyers argue legally he doesn't have to do anything else. he's gone as far as he has -- he didn't even have to do what he's doing right now. he made the point i could continue to run my business at the same time be the president of the united states. you heard him make that point. >> two points. conflicts of interest laws don't apply to the president legally. the presidents follow them because they don't want the hassle to fight over conflicts of interest all time. trump has chosen to do that. constitution specifically bans emoluments payments by foreign
governments. trump is trying to get around that. if i sell a for again government a hotel or a rent a ballroom they are just paying me. what if the government pakistan want to pay $20,000 for one night of a hotel room. are they getting less than fair market value. he wants to litigate that. >> he said any profits his hotel, for example, make from foreign governments, renting rooms or whatever, the profits he says will go to u.s. taxpayers. >> i spent a lot of time last year about donald trump's gift to charity and promises to charity and a frequent promise trump would make set up a new business like trump university, trump water, he would give the money he made as profits to charity. i found that often he didn't comply with that. the question was often messier than it sounds. >> that's the key points when you mentioned the word hassle which sums this all up. we are all and pretty much every
reporter in this town are going to be following up on whether or not when foreign official stays a couple of blocks from here at his hotel whether that money was donated to the treasury. we don't even know because i was on a call yesterday with his, with his attorneys about how they are even going to comply with that and even whether that's going to be reported in a public way. those are answers we don't know yet. but the hassle thing is so key because as you were saying, yes, he's complying with the law. the law is different for presidents. but every single thing that he does is going to be scrutinized and he doesn't -- we saw yesterday he doesn't like to be scrutinized even though we were reporting things 100% true but he's got to get used to it. >> quickly. >> to david's point it's the history. because of his history of falling short of those promises or at least in the documented reporting, because of his style, the country might have to have this conversation to encourage more people to run for public
office so we don't have career politicians. be nice if more people from the business community with street experience came into our politics. because trump is trump and democrats are opposed to trump, that's why this is, the volume of this contentious debate higher. this just in, a transition of power alert. president-elect trump has named the former new york city mayor rudy giuliani to lend his expertise on cyber security. the transition team citing rudy giuliani's experience in law enforcement and security in the private-sector. rudy giuliani will get this role in leading the fight against cyber attacks against the united states. you are our contributor. rudy giuliani was a loyal supporter of donald trump. we know he wanted to be secretary of state. he's now going to be in charge of fighting these cyber attacks. >> this is something that rudy
giuliani actually has a little bit of history with. people have been wondering for weeks what would happen him to. had he been left out in the cold. he said he had not been. so it's important to note that trump isn't sidelining his most loyal supporters and by putting rudy giuliani in charge of this cyber security team he's putting him in charge of one of the most charged issues of his incoming presidency. this is the biggest thing that's hanging over donald trump's head. what is he going to do about this idea that many foreign governments, russia in particular, are hacking and trying to destabilize this country. he's putting his, perhaps biggest loyalist in the role of advising him on that front and i think it's pretty telling where he's going to go here. >> i'm waiting for the job for chris christie. >> the other thing, i don't know, we should check this. i don't think this requires
confirmation which was a huge hurdle for nominating him. >> we aldo speak with u.s. defense officials, intelligence officials. their nightmare scenario is an enemy of the united states, whether russia, north korea, iran, china dealing with power grids and really griernding thi country to a halt. >> i think it does. it goes back to the conflict questions we were just talking about. rudy giuliani runs a company. he runs a consulting company that's got its hands in a lot of places, legal and other places. so my question is he going to step aside from that company. i haven't seen the announcement fully yet. >> the company gives cyber security advice to corporate firms. >> right, exactly. >> very lucrative line of work right now. >> he may not have to leave the company. we'll see whether he will or not. the key thing on this conflicts
of interest question and maybe it's regarding rudy giuliani as well i was talking to somebody who has known trump for many, many years and he said, look, the way donald trump looks at this as a businessman is different from the way you people in washington look at this. we all look at this about potential conflicts of interest. he looks at it and says is it legal or is it illegal? i will not do anything illegal. it is legal for donald trump not to divest himself of his profits from his businesses because he's president of the united states. and so that is the standard that he is using and it is not the standard that is used in washington. >> everybody stand by. there's a lot more coming in opinion we have important hearings that are about to begin as well and there's a new development involving the battle over the border wall. president-elect trump says he'll force, force mexico to reimburse the united states. but mexico's president has a very different view.
we have new information. stay with us. our special coverage continues right after this. a major day up here on capitol hill. three of president-elect donald trump's nominees will appear for a round of confirmation hearings. they begin only moments from now. retired general james mattis will make his case to become the next defense secretary. special coverage next. we'll be right back.
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president-elect and the u.s. intelligence community. let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr who is standing by. set the scene for general mattis confirmation hearing that's about to begin. >> reporter: good morning. look for jim mattis to be questioned by the committee about his views when to send american forces into war. mattis has a very clear view on this. he's expressed it many times in the past. only send u.s. troops if you have a goal and a strategy to carry it out. he's very skeptical of just sending troops off into far away places to conduct combat without those goals and strategies. he's a very hard-liner on iran. he believes sirn a serious threat in the middle east. but i think what will be most interesting throughout the day is his views on russia. once again russia. mattis very skeptical of vladimir putin. he's on the record with that. look at this. he comes to the pentagon with his chairman of the joint
chiefs, a fellow marine, someone he's known for decades also skeptical about vladimir putin and russia. general dunford has called russia a threat. and dan coates the former secretary that's been director of national intelligence is skeptical on russia. so skeptical russia has banned him from coming back into their country with those sanctions in place that coates supported. what you have are three key potential members of donald trump's national security team perhaps not on the same page as the president-elect about their views on russia and vladimir putin. later this morning mike pompeo up to be cia director amongst this firestorm that we're seeing. mike pompeo will have his work cut-out for him. a very delicate line if he's confirmed. he must be able to support his rank-and-file in the intelligence community, but not go so far that donald trump doesn't keep him comfortably in
his inner circle. >> barbara starr at the pentagon. i want to bring in a special guest, jim jordan of ohio a member of the house judiciary and oversight committees and a strong supporter of donald trump. he supported him during the campaign. congressman thanks very much for joining us. >> good be with you. >> what do you anticipate, mike pompeo a friend of yours, fellow republican, member of the house intelligence committee, how will he walk that delicate line that donald trump has been very critical of the u.s. intelligence community. he wants to lead the cia. how will he be able to do that? >> i start from this premise. performance is immensely qualified for this position. here's a guy with west point grad, harvard law school, editor of the law review, on the intel committee. i had the privilege of serving with mike a couple of years on the benghazi committee. he's a guy that led the fight in the house against the iran deal, this terrible, you know, deal
that was made with this, largest state sponsor of terror. mike pompeo, i think, is totally qualified and right kind of guy to do this job. he'll do fine in the hearings. >> if he's asked by a democratic member of the committee or maybe even a republican to react to donald trump's tweet yesterday and i'll read to it you, intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to leak into the public one last shot at me. are we living in nazi germany? if he's asked to comment on that how will he finesse that? >> i'll let mike handle that but what i know is look none of this has been proven to be accurate even you guys who have reported said we don't know if this is accurate or not. we're getting a briefing tomorrow at 9:15, the house of representatives getting a briefing from the intelligence committee. i'll go to that briefing and listen to what they've say and then i can have a better sense of what may or may not have happened. what i do know and what
congressman mike pompeo knows donald trump won this election fair and square. no indication whatsoever that voting machines in ohio or michigan or wisconsin or pennsylvania, the key states that won it for donald trump, no indication of any tampering or stuffing of ballots. he won this election fair and square. what we have to focus on is to do what we were elected to do. we know what those key issues are. mike pompeo will handle himself immensely well today in the hearing. >> he's got a very good reputation in the house of representatives. a conservative. a strong conservative. but on the intelligence community even adam shift the ranking democrat on that committee has spoken very highly of him. what if he's asked a sensitive question like rex tillerson was asked by marco rubio is vladimir putin a war criminal? how do you think he should respond to that? >> i mean, again, look i don't want to get into the
hypotheticals what he might be asked and answer for mike pompeo. what i do know the strategy of engaging with russia but also being tough. i think back to reagan. when reagan was willing to engage and negotiate and work with the then soviet union but also willing to walk away like he did in iceland when it was a ridiculous thing they were trying to get an agreement. that to me seems the approach mike pompeo has more importantly that's the approach that president-elect trump will have. >> congressman jim jordan thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> john mccain chairman of the senate armed services committee has new begun this hearing. >> you'll be notified and asked the committee will immediately proceed to consideration of senate bill 84 which is to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons of secretary of defense within seven years of relief from regular duty as a regular commissioned officer of the armed forces.
it would authorize games mattis to be appointed secretary of defense. it's important we have all members presents for the consideration of that bill and there's 15 minutes left in questioning you'll be nochd and i hope people will all come back to vote on this important issue of the waiver. good morning, and i would like to first recognize two of our distinguished colleagues who are here today, former colleagues. we were all three together during the coolidge administration and very glad to see you back here again. and i don't know -- should we do the opening statements or have them?
>> so, i know that in the interest of our friends times maybe we could begin with senator nunn and senator cohen making their introductory remarks and we're honored to have you back before the committee again, two very distinguished, most distinguished members that i've had the opportunity and honor to serve with. in deference to your age, senator nunn we'll begin with you. >> here we go. can you hear me okay? thank you chairman mccain and senator reid. it's a great honor to return to the senate armed services committee with my good friend for many years as you observed mr. chairman, bill cohen. the purpose of introducing jim mattis on his nomination to be secretary of defense. before praising our distinguished nominee and i'll praise him because i think he deserve it i want to commend you
senator mccain and senator reid for your excellent work in passing significant reform legislation in the most recent congress. your continuous efforts to make our military more efficient and more effective are essential to our nation's security and we owe you our thanks. i know from experience reform snois not easy. it doesn't get the notice it deserves except for people who oppose the reform. those are the ones who notice it. congratulations on that legislation. i know there's a lot more to do. but you've made some progress. i want to commend my good friend and congratulate my good friend david perdue for becoming a member of this committee and continuing a strong georgia tradition of serving on the best committee in the senate. in september of 1950, my great uncle carl vincent as chairman of the armed services committee presented to the house of
representatives a strong case for congress to pass a waiver to allow general george marshal to assume the position of secretary of defense. so there's some history here. today i urge you to pass the same type of waiver for jim mattis. who retired from the marine corps three and a half years ago. i believe that the law requiring a secretary of defense to be out of active duty at least seven years does remain relevant today but there's also a good reason that there can be on occasion, case by case, common sense exceptions through congressional actions. the congressional research service has written an excellent paper on the legislative history of the separation from military service requirements. when the original statute was passed in 1947 the department of defense had just been created by merging the department of war and the department of navy. there were several very famous generals and admirals emerging from world war ii who were
highly publicized heroes including a few five stars and congress did not want one service overpowering the newly created department. so that, to me, is an important part of the history of this legislation. mr. chairman, senator reid and committee members i believe that exceptions to this restriction should be based on the experience, the skills and the character of the nominee and our country's need to ask them to serve in this important role. i also believe that your examination of jim mattis' credentials, character and record convince you that he like george marshal should be granted a waiver and confirmed as secretary of defense. mr. chairman i followed jim's career for a long time because when i was chairman of this committee my staff director who is here today also a marine repeatedly told me that a young officer by the name of jim mattis was demonstrating strong
leadership capabilities. mr. chairman and senator reid and chris and liz and members of the staff will understand my reluctance to ever admit that ronald was always right but in the case of jim mattis he was dead on point. jim mattis became one of our nays's most effective and respected military leaders. jim has the experience and skill to be an excellent secretary of defense. he has the deep knowledge about the many challenges we face around the world today. he understands not only the importance of civilian control of the mistletoe but he's also written the book, so to speak, on the relationship of today's voluntary force and civil society, which deserves a great deal of attention. jim's experience as combative commander demonstrated his ability to effectively work with diplomats and national leaders. mr. chairman, senator reid and members of the committee, over
the last three years jim mattis has become fully engaged in civilian life from the world of business to the ngo world to the college campus. he has quickly learned what i call the admiral crown rule that after retirement as a four star if you jump the back seat of the car you won't go anywhere until you jump in the driver's seat and turn the key. jim mattis has bean valuable corporate board member and learned lessons that will help him make the department of defense more efficient. jim has gone from the marine corps spit and polish to the business coat and tie to whatever they wear on campus these days. as a professor he has developed a rapport with young students by quickly figuring out they are not quite the same as paris island recruits. in summary, mr. chairman, jim mapt stays rare combination of thinker and doer. scholar and strategist.
he understands respects and loves the men and women in uniform and their families. he also understands the structure and the organization of the pentagon, and he knows what the building has to do to give the troops the tools they need to do their job of protecting our nation's security. jim also knows the awesome powers and responsibility of our military forces and the challenges of our complex and very dangerous world. he understands that our military cannot be our primary tool to meet every challenge. and he strongly supports the important role of diplomacy and has been outspoken in the important need of giving state department the resources they need to be fully effective. my bottom line, mr. chairman, and senator reid, members of the committee, is i believe jim mattis is exceptionally well qualified to lead the department of defense. i urge this committee and the senate to pass a statutory waiver to allow him to serve our
nation in this new role and to confirm him as secretary of defense. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator nunn. senator cohen. >> be here this morning to testify on behalf of general mattis. senator nunn, senator reid, senator inhofe, i think you may be the only three who are still here in the armed services committee when 20 years ago i came before the committee seeking your endorsement for secretary of defense. it's been 20 years and what a difference a generation makes because you were a young captain in the navy and took us on a trip, senator nunn mentioned to china where he met xi jinping and did some great work on the way back in korea.
i thank you for all of the years you devoted to this country. you remain a hero of mine. and to millions of people not only in this country but the world over. it's a real honor for me to be here with you. >> thank you. >> and with senator nunn. i served 18 years here in the senate. he served 24. i must say that the experience of working with senator nunn was one of the true highlights of my political career. so it's a pleasure of me to join with senator nunn. i want to associate myself with the remarks of the former senator from georgia, and simply submit my own written statement which is quite brief to the committee and i'll try to summarize. jim mattis i first met when i went to the pentagon, avenues young colonel. and as senator nunn has pointed out he had a reputation even then. this is somebody to watch. he's young. he's smart. he doesn't really belong behind a desk, although he may have
belonged there right now but at that time he wanted to get out into the field. he is a warrior by nature. and i want to say that he has the nickname of mad dog. it's a misnomer. it should be brave heart because what really characterizes jim mattis is his courage and mr. chairman, you've written about this in terms of why courage matters. and you quoted from churchill and said that courage is the first of human resources because it guarantees all else, all the others. so we've seen the history of jim mattis in terms of being a warrior, a brave heart on the battlefield. but that's not really why we're here. if you're only a great warrior you would say there's a lot of other warriors as well. he comes because he's a man of thought as well as action and sometimes it's said you can judge people by the friends he makes, the company he keeps, but
also by the books he reads. general mattis has some 6,000 books in his library. most of which, if not all of them, he has read, and he can refer to either alexander the great, general grant, sun su. i suspect he's probably the only one here at this table who can hear the words of -- trap and not figure out what it means. he's a scholar and a strategic thinker as well as a great warrior. these hearings are important, not only because you get a chance to listen to the views of the nominee in terms of what is his or her in this case his experience. what does he see as the world events that we're going to be confronted with. what does he bring to the table
in terms of giving you confidence that the person making that judgment and after all he's number two. he's number two in the chain of command. goes from the president through him to the commanders. that's it. that's why it's so important that you have a chance not only to assess his background experience, but also his character. that really is what you need know because no one goes to the secretary of defense or any major position and can anticipate everything that's going to come at him. they talk about the tyranny of the inbox. you have it coming at you with the heat seeking missile. who is making the decision. in that case i think you should take great confidence in this man. who understands what it means to be in battle and understands what it means not to go into
battle. he has the love for his troops, his return in a way that i've not seen before. his troops, men and women alike in all services love this man. an they love him because he loves them and what they do for our country. what they are willing to risk for our country. so you look at his character. he's a humble man with very little to be humble about. but if you were to go to his home town and see that he's a devoted son to his 94-year-old mother, lucille, in richland, washington. if you look you would see he's a member of the board of the tri-city food bank. you can see him out help distribute food to needy families. you'll also see him refuse to exempt himself from jury duty. he was called to serve on a jury involving a gross misdeamnor case. he could have been exempted. he said no i'm here to serve.
so he's one of six people in that benton county district court. beyond that what is most impressive to me is that he takes the time without any fan fare to visit the gold star families. that is something that is a heavy, heavy responsibility to go to the families, talk to the people who lost their sons and daughters, husbands, wives, in battle, under his command. and so it tells me a lot about who jim mattis is and why you should take that into account. and finally, i feel a senatorial speech coming on so i'll try to sum right now. one of my other heroes, in addition to senator mccain is oliver wendell holmes jr. he's a hero not because avenues great supreme court justice but a veteran of the civil war and you can't read any opinion of his without seeing how he reflects back upon his time in
battle. and i think it's 1894 memorial day speech you should all read but in the conclusion of the speech he says whether a man accepts from fortune a spade and look downward and dig or from aspiration her axe and cord and will scale the ice. the one and only success is thois command to his command is to bring his heart network. this man brings the job to the secretary of defense a great and brave heart and i hope you'll vote to confirm him quickly. thank you. i want to thank both senator nunn and senator cohen. i view as one of the great privileges of my time here in the united states senate was the honor of serving with both of you. and so i think it means a lot to me personally but also to
members of the committee that you would come here today on behalf of this nominee. thank you for being here. >> could i pay special recognition to senator mccain? >> no. >> i was going to add from the great state of maine. someone we used to call governor and now senator. nice to see you. >> he represents the geriatric part of this committee. >> led by -- >> i thank both senator nunn and senator cohen for being here. obviously the committee meets today to consider the nomination of general james mattis to be the secretary of defense of the united states. two years ago general mattis last time you came before this committee the idea that we would be meeting again under the present circumstances would have been hard to imagine, most of all by you. but i for one could not be
happier. all of his recognize the unique indeed historic nature of this nomination, general mattis enjoyed a long and distinguished career in uniform but current law would bar him from serving as secretary of defense for three more years. while i strongly support retaining the law, i also believe that our nation needs general mattis' service more than ever. so after this hearing the committee will meet to consider special legislation to allow general mattis to serve as secretary of defense. if confirmed general mattis would have the honor of leading a team of americans that represent everything that's noble and best in our nation, our soldiers, sailor, airmen and marines do everything we ask of them and more. they make us proud every day. our many defense civil servants also sacrifice day in and day out for our national security and rarely get the credit they deserve. i'm confident that no one appreciates our people and ovals their sacrifices more than general mattis.
yet as we meet today at a time of increasing global threat and disorder for seven decades the united states has played a unique role in the world. we've not only put america first this has required our alliances, our values, but must of all our military. it's the global striking power of america's armed forces that must deter or thwart their ambitions. too many americans, too many americans seem to have forgotten this in recent years. too many have forgotten that our world order is not self sustaining. too many have forgotten that while the threats we face may not have purely military solutions, they all have military dimensions. in short, too many have forgotten that hard power matters, having it, threatening it, leveraging it for diplomacy and at times using it, fairly or not, there is a perception around the world that america is
weak and distracted. and that has only goemboldened r adversaries to challenge the world order. the threat posed by violent islamic extremism continues to metastasize cross africa, asia, europe, the middle east, and for those who remain vigilant, our homeland. it should now be clear that we will be engaged in a global contest for the foreseeable future. believing otherwise is wishful thinking. if confirmed, general mattis, you would lead a military at war. you of all people appreciate what that means and what it demands. at the same time, our central challenge in the middle east is not isil. as grave a threat as that is. it is a breakdown of regional order in which nearly every state is a battlefield for conflict, a combatant, or both. isil is a symptom of this disorder. at the same time iran's nuclear weapons ambitions have been
postponed but not halted. and it continues to modernize its military, expand its malign influence and seek to remake the region in its image from syria to iraq to yemen. in asia, the rise of china is shifting the balance of power in ways that increasingly challenge longstanding u.s. interests. we see a new assertiveness in china to confront u.s. allies and partners, make vast territorial claims with no basis in international law, carve out spheres of influence, and revise the current order. north korea is testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles at an alarming rate. our intelligence community publicly assesses that north korea could soon develop a nuclear-capable intercontinental missile that is capable of striking the u.s. homeland. this may become a defining crisis for the next president. and then there is russia. over the past eight years under president vladimir putin, russia
has invaded ukraine, annexed crimea, intervened militarily in syria leaving a trail of death, destruction, and broken promises in his wake. russia's military has targeted syrian hospitals and first responders with precision weapons. russia supplied the weapons that shot down a commercial aircraft over ukraine. russia's war on ukraine has killed thousands of ukrainian soldiers and civilians. and in the most flagrant demonstration of putin's disdain and disrespect for our nation, russia deliberately interfered in our recent election with cyber attacks and disinformation campaign designed to weaken america and discredit western values. each of our last three presidents has had great expectations of building a partnership with the russian government. each attempt has failed. not for lack of good faith and effort on the u.s. side, but because of a stubborn fact that
we must finally recognize. putin wants to be our enemy. he needs us as his enemy. he will never be our partner, including in fighting isil. he believes that strengthening russia means weakening america. we must proceed realistically on this basis. we must build a position of significant strength vis-à-vis russia and any other adversary that seeks to undermine our national interests and challenge the world order. we must reestablish deterrence. and that is primarily the job of the department of defense. but for too long, the department of defense has planned and optimized itself for short term episodic contingencies whether against great powers or global terrorist movements. we now face a series of long term strategic competitions with clear military dimensions that often occur below the threshold of armed conflict. what makes all of this worse is that america's military
technology advantage is eroding. our competitors, especially china and russia, have gone to school on the american way of war and they are rapidly modernizing their militaries to exploit our vulnerabilities with advanced antiaccess and aerial denial capabilities. indeed, the entire model of american military power projection is increasingly being called into question on land, at sea, and in the air, and especially in space and cyber space. in light of these threats, business as usual is not just misguided. it is dangerous. all of these problems are impounded by the self-inflicted wounds of the budget control act. for five years, national defense spending has been arbitrarily capped. defense spending has often fallen in real terms. each military service has deferred modernization and shed
capacity what has damaged readiness. what we do spend is producing less combat power. in constant dollars we spend nearly exactly the same amount as we did 30 years ago. but we are fielding 35% fewer combat brigades, 53% fewer ships, and 63% future combat aircraft squadrons. all this while overhead costs that do not add to combat power have steadily increased. in short, we have done grave harm to our military as even of our joint chiefs of staff has repeatedly testified to this committee. meanwhile, our national debt has increased nearly $4 trillion over the life of the budget control act. the president-elect says he wants to, quote, fully eliminate the defense sequester and, quote, rebuild our military. if so, he will find many allies on this committee. the budget control acting is harming us in ways that our enemies can only dream. we must repeal this legislation
and increase the defense top line. this will not be cheap. but it pales in comparison to losing a war. for all these reasons and more, i believe the nation needs general mattis. we need to stop deterring ourselves and aligning our ends, ways, and means to address global threats. we need to resize and more importantly, reshape our military, giving our war fighters the most advanced capabilities so they never find themselves in a fair fight. we must continue to reform the department of defense so more of its limited dollars are spent on increasing the lethality of our military, not adding to its bureaucracy. that especially means improving defense acquisition which still takes too long and costs too much to deliver too little. i would like to conclude by saying a few words about trust and accountability and about the relationship between this committee and the department of
defense. one of the few benefits of my advanced age is the sense of perspective it affords. in recent years i have witnessed the steady loss of trust and deterioration of relations between congress and the department. it is felt on both sides and there is plenty of blame to go around. department leaders have too often treated members of congress to be notified, not partners to be meaningfully consulted. and congress has too often sought to bend the department to its will, trying to manage it from afar rather than oversee it. we cannot afford to go on like this. the challenges are too grave. the wide margin for error we once enjoyed in the world is gone. we need to take more risks if we are to maintain our strategic and technological advantage. we cannot let fear of failure slow us or stop us from innovating. these are challenges that the department of defense and the congress, especially this
committee, must manage together. the only way to restore this trust is to start trusting each other. if confirmed, you would have to trust us to be your partners in major decisionmaking and in sharing the greater risks that are necessary to win in a more competitive world. in return, if you will be accountable to us, and you will be, we must trust you to determine how best to get the results we demand with fewer statutory and regulatory impediments. in short, let's make it our common mission to restore accountability. if we can do that, the threats we face may be grave, but i am confident we can succeed. senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me join you in welcoming general mattis to this morning's hearing. i thank him for his many decades of distinguished service to the country and to the marine corps. and i appreciate his willingness to return to public service this time in a civilian capacity.
in addition let me also recognize and thank senator sam nunn and senator and secretary of defense bill cohen for their distinguished service and eloquent words this morning, thank you, gentlemen. january mattis began his long career as a sect lieutenant at central washington university. he has served the highest echelons of the marine corps and capped his service in the united states central command. general mattis, if firmed you will lead the time when the united states faces challenges that do not offer quick or easy solutions. some of these challenges are about traditional tensions while others cross international boundaries. you would help oversee national security policy for a president that lacks foreign policy and defense experience and whose temperament is far different from prior presidents. i think many americans, in this body and both sides