Jan. 6 - U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as his defense secretary. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as his Defense Secretary. Sources tell Reuters the annoucement could come as soon as Monday. The choice will likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether Vietnam veteran is a strong enough supporter of Israel and over his past calls for military cuts. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on NBC's Meet the Press. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL SAYING: "I think there will be a lot of tough questions for Senator Hagel, but he will be treated fairly by Republicans in the Senate." (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL SAYING: "His views with regard to Israel, for example, and Iran and all the other positions that he's taken over the years, you know, I think that they're a matter of discussion during the confirmation process." Hagel has also been critical of the size of the military, telling the Financial Times in 2011 that the Defense Department was "bloated" and needed "to be pared down."