Colin Kahl, a former Obama administration official who is up for undersecretary of defense for policy, previously called the GOP “a clown show” in 2017, and scrutinized the party after former President Donald Trump stated the decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria in October 2019.
“The GOP used to pride itself as a party that put values front and center in US foreign policy," he wrote. "Now—as they debase themselves at the altar [sic] of Trump—they are the party of ethnic cleansing."
Kahl also alleged that legislators who opposed the nuclear deal with Iran have been stirring for war “for decades,” in another tweet from 2019.
"Hawks in Congress, think tanks, & the NSC push Trump to shred the last vestiges of the Iran deal (waivers on civilian nuclear projects to implement the accord),” he wrote. “Shorter version: they won't be satisfied until they get the war they've pushed for decades."
One of Biden’s previous nominees for a Senate-confirmed post, Neera Tanden, was removed after her comments about Republicans came under denunciation.
Republican lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee also pressed Kahl to address his position on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and his public disapproval of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy actions.
Kahl currently works at Stanford University, and he previously served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Though Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, have each announced they do not support the nomination, it was not obvious Republicans had the key elements they would need to thwart the nomination in the equally split Senate: GOP unity and withdrawals from Democratic lawmakers.
The panel’s prominent top Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, displayed disappointment that a positive characterization of his private call with Kahl last week had leaked to the press, and the senator said Kahl’s “hyper-partisanship” didn’t fit the job’s requirement for “a leader with judicious temperament and sound judgment.”
But Inhofe stood short of announcing he would oppose Kahl. “On our call, I told you I would have a hard time supporting your nomination because of your previous policy positions unless you’ve learned from some of the mistakes that you’ve made. I also told you that I can work with people with whom I disagree,” Inhofe said.
Complicating Kahl’s hearing, Cotton cited several of Kahl’s tweets showing an “intemperate manner.”