Kahl Wins Pentagon Post Despite GOP Complaints of ‘Mean Tweets’
(Bloomberg) -- Colin Kahl won Senate confirmation as the Defense Department’s policy chief Tuesday over objections from Republicans on his possible disclosure of classified information on social media and his role in negotiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The vote was 49-45 for Kahl, 49, who as under secretary of defense for policy will advise Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin both on broad strategy and on more immediate concerns, including completing budget plans for the coming fiscal year and planning the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Kahl’s nomination by President Joe Biden was disputed by Republicans from the beginning. At his confirmation hearing on March 4, he was assailed for the type of “mean tweets” that derailed the nomination of another Biden nominee, Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Kahl of “hyper-partisanship.” Democrats have responded that little that Kahl said matched the vitriol typical of former President Donald Trump’s Twitter posts.
The Armed Services panel’s vote on the nomination tied at 13-13, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week obtained a “discharge” vote by the full Senate that brought the nomination to the floor.
More than a dozen GOP senators wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking a probe into whether Kahl publicly disclosed classified or sensitive information on social media. Kahl, who was national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden before leaving government, has denied mishandling information and said his tweets relied on news reports.
“I have never publicly shared information I knew to be classified and take my obligations to protect classified information seriously,” Kahl wrote last month in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate committee.
By contrast to the controversy over Kahl, Austin and his top deputy Kathy Hicks sailed through the Senate.
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