President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon is expected to field tough questions about future U.S. policy toward Russia and Iran during his Senate confirmation hearing. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon is expected to field tough questions about civilian control of the military as well as future U.S. policy toward Russia and Iran during his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. James Mattis, who retired as a four-star Marine general in 2013, is technically ineligible for the job since he has not been a civilian for at least seven years. That means Congress would need to grant him a waiver, something it has not done since 1950, but appears inclined to do now. In his opening statement, Mattis will make the case that he can lead the military as a civilian, even after a 44-year military career. "I recognize my potential civilian role differs in essence and in substance from my former role in uniform," Mattis will testify, according to prepared remarks. Mattis, 66, is believed to advocate a stronger line against Moscow than the one Trump outlined during his election campaign and has argued persuasively in private talks with Trump against the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, as an interrogation tactic. Those attributes, as well as his past remarks extolling the NATO alliance, which Trump also criticized in the campaign, are expected to help sway many Democrats and Republicans skeptical of some of Trump's campaign positions. Mattis made clear his support for strong international alliances in remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee.