Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony Thursday from Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense. Retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis said at his confirmation hearing that Russia remains the “principal threat” faced by the United States, taking a much harder line on Russia than the president-elect.
James Mattis: “Since Yalta, we have a long list of times that we’ve tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. And I think right now the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with, with Mr. Putin, and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic Alliance, and that we take the steps, the integrated steps, diplomatic, economic, military and the alliance steps, the working with our allies, to defend ourselves where we must.”
Mattis also repeatedly called for the U.S. military to be more “lethal,” and said he supports the F-35 program and other expensive weapons programs. Following his hearing, the Senate voted to support a waiver exempting Mattis from a law requiring defense secretaries to be civilians for at least seven years. Mattis retired from the military in 2013. The full House is slated to vote on the waiver today. We’ll have more on General Mattis’s nomination for secretary of defense after headlines.