WASHINGTON — In an emotional first day in the Senate Armed Services Committee, confirmed James Mattis was confirmed by a large majority in a panel representing a broad cross-section of the U.S. military. Chairman of the panel John McCain of Arizona said he and his colleagues were moved by the testimony of U.S. military veterans in supporting the new defense secretary.
But the new chairwoman, Sen. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., sought to question Mattis about some of his past statements about military sexual assault, working to prioritize prosecuting sex crimes in the military, and concerns about whistle-blower protections within the Pentagon.
A pair of retired Army generals on Thursday weighed in strongly in support of Mattis, also testifying at the hearing.
“Mattis is someone we trust to lead our troops, to lead our military, to make sure we’re fighting hard to defeat the threats that face our country, and that’s exactly what he’s going to do,” said retired Gen. Jack Keane, who served as a deputy to President George W. Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley.
Mattis, 66, sailed through the committee, which backed him 100-3.
Military leaders on Thursday also appeared before the Senate panel to back the new defense secretary, who was nominated to replace the fired retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.
Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who was Mattis’s deputy at the Pentagon until 2016, praised the newest member of the panel, calling him “a rock star.”
McMaster, a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, told the Senate panel that he supports Mattis’s nomination.
“I know that he is the right man for this job,” he said.