From FNC’s Mike Emanuel:
I’ve obtained Senator Chuck Hagel’s letter sent Saturday to Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte about his March 2007 speech at Rutgers University. The University told me on Friday it did not have any video, audio, or transcript of his remarks, but apparently Hagel did. The letter reveals that Hagel sent the Senators a copy of that speech.
Hagel told the Senators that in that 2007 speech he “expressed support for the Bush administration’s ongoing diplomatic efforts in the Middle East at the time.”
He also spends much of the letter trying to reassure Graham and Ayotte that he’s given “many speeches, interviews, and made countless remarks affirming the vital importance of the United States’ special relationship with Israel – one that is based upon our shared values and security interests.”
Hagel concludes the letter: “If confirmed as Secretary of Defense, as I have said many times, continuing to ensure Israel’s security will be one of my top priorities.”
Below is what Graham said about the speech and Hagel’s response on FNS:
GRAHAM: Well, on the day of the vote, there was a blog
posting about a speech I think in 2007 or 2008 that Chuck Hagel
made at Rutgers University, and the blogger was a supporter of
Senator Hagel. He was thinking about running for president and
he put on his blog the next day six points of the speech,
question-and-answer session. And point six was allegedly
Senator Hagel said that the U.S. State Department was an adjunct
of the Israeli foreign minister’s office, which I think would be
breathtaking if he said that, had such a view.
I got a letter back from Senator Hagel, in response to my
question, did you say that and do you believe that? And, the
letter says he did not recall saying that. He disavowed that
WALLACE: Is that enough for you?
GRAHAM: Well, if in fact that’s true, that would end that
matter because he previously said in a book that the Jewish
lobby intimidates members of Congress, particularly the U.S.
Senate and makes us — pushes us to make very bad decisions. If
the second statement were true, he said, the secretary of
state’s office is under the control of the Israeli foreign
ministers, those two together, would show edge our view of the
Israeli-U.S. relationship way out of mainstream.
So, I’ll just take him at his word unless something new
TEXT OF THE HAGEL LETTER BELOW:
February 16, 2013
The Honorable Lindsey O. Graham
United States Senate
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Kelly Ayotte
United States Senate
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Graham and Ayotte,
Enclosed is a copy of a speech I delivered at Rutgers University on U.S.-Iran relations six years ago in early 2007. As you know, at that time the political and security situation in Israel, Iran, Egypt, Syria and the entire Middle East was very different than it is today. In that speech, I endorsed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s views and expressed support for the Bush Administration’s on-going diplomatic efforts in the Middle East at that time.
Addressing your questions regarding “notes posted on the internet” by a person who attended by Rutgers speech, which were reported by the Washington Free Beacon on February 14, 2013, I do not recall making any such statement, or ever making any similar statement. I completely disavow the content of the alleged statement attributed to me. The remark being attributed to me comes from a blog entry written after the speech, and the blogger recently stated on the timing of my alleged quote that, “I think that was during the Q&A.”
Over the course of my career, both in and out of government, I have given many speeches and interviews and made countless remarks affirming the vital importance of the United States’ special relationship with Israel- one that is based upon our shared values and security interests. I have visited Israel numerous times in both my public and private life, and each experience underscores for me the importance of standing side-by-side with our Israeli friends to ensure their security. If confirmed as Secretary of Defense, as I have said many times, continuing to ensure Israel’s security will be one of my top priorities.
cc: Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member James Inhofe