Sen. Elizabeth Warren was criticized by her colleagues after her failed attempt to shame President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper.
The Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate effectively threw a tantrum when her time was called after she grilled the nominee and former lobbyist for Raytheon over his ties to the defense contractor, pressing him to recuse himself from related decisions for longer than what the law required.
Despite bipartisan praise of Esper’s qualifications during Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warren clashed with the current Secretary of the Army and former Army Ranger who served in combat in the Gulf War, repeatedly questioning him and often not giving him time to respond.
“Will you commit not to work for or get paid by any defense contractor for at least four years after your government service?” Warren asked, even though the restriction on Esper will expire in November.
“No, senator, I will not,” he replied.
“The American people deserve to know that you’re making decisions in our country’s best security interests, not in your own financial interests,” Warren shot back after accusing him of “taking a trip right back through the revolving door” of government service.
“You can’t make those commitments to this committee. That means you should not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.” the Democrat declared, demanding Esper respond with a yes or no answer even as he attempted to explain the Pentagon process that addresses and prevents the conflict of interest she was implying.
Warren’s confrontational questioning and interruption of Esper caused the committee chairman to rule that the nominee be allowed to respond.
And Esper did not flinch, delivering a powerful rebuttal to Warren’s accusations.
“At the age of 18 I went to West Point, and I swore an oath to defend this Constitution, and I embraced a motto called duty and honor and country. And I’ve lived my life in accordance with those values ever since then. I went to war for this country. I served overseas for this country,” he said.
“I’ve stepped down from jobs that paid me well more than what I was working anywhere else. And each time it was to serve the public good and to serve the young men and women of our armed services,” Esper told the committee.
“So, no, I disagree — I think the presumption is that anybody that comes from the business or the corporate world is corrupt,” he added, landing on one of Warren’s campaign talking points.
Mark @EsperDoD ran @Raytheon’s lobbying shop for 7 years. In fact, he’s still waiting on a million-dollar payout from them after 2022. I have serious ethical concerns about his @DeptofDefense Secretary nomination.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 15, 2019
The fiery exchange was not over, however, as Warren proceeded to have a meltdown when she was told she had gone over the allotted time.
“Okay, so I’m asking the question. No, this is not right, Mr. Chairman. He does not — I didn’t ask a question at the end,” she protested.
“I have not gone over. He has gone over. And he is not willing to make a commitment that he will not engage in conflicts of interest with that company for which he was a lobbyist,” Warren exclaimed. “This is outrageous.”
Several senators later called out Warren’s political grandstanding.
“I’m very disappointed that Sen. Warren would demonize you after you decades of service simply because you served in the private sector,” Florida Republican Rick Scott told Esper.
“There’s a lot of us who have been in the private sector and that doesn’t take anything away from our ability to do our job,” he said. “I guess she just needed a moment for her presidential campaign.”
.@SenRickScott dings @ewarren for questioning of Mark Esper: “I guess she just needed a moment for her presidential campaign.” https://t.co/QuaZ6qKtsK pic.twitter.com/jBni7PISgC
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) July 16, 2019
Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, of Oklahoma also apologized to Esper.
“It was unfair, and you handed it beautifully,” he said.
Twitter users reacted to the exchange between Warren and Esper, entertained by her tantrum at the end. Many also questioned the 2020 contender’s political theater considering Raytheon is headquartered in her home state.
The best part is definitely her tantrum at the end because he wouldn’t just allow her smears to go unanswered. https://t.co/g5BWNvI51l
— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) July 17, 2019
Oh, that is pure gold. Her getting so pissed off at the end is just priceless.
— GregoryScott (@GregoryScott111) July 16, 2019
right there is also exactly why she will never be president.
— sooth·say·er (@DeportRuffalo) July 17, 2019
That is embarrassing for Warren, especially the part where’s she’s told she’s reached her 2 minutes & complains it was not her but Esper who went over. ??♂️ I suppose he was supposed to let her monologue the whole time & not address her false implications? #ShePersisted
— Tom Kattman (@TomKattman) July 16, 2019
Grandstanders gonna grandstand. The irony of Warren, of all people, knocking others over money is epic.
— Alex Lekas (@TheAlexLekas) July 16, 2019
This is a lady who got paid $330K to “teach” one class at Harvard accusing this guy of being greedy.
— Schumpeter’s Ghost (@SSchumpeter) July 16, 2019
If Warren has concerns about Mark Esper’s connections to Raytheon, then doesn’t that mean we should also be concerned about Elizabeth Warren’s connections to Raytheon? pic.twitter.com/fRX27j1rMo
— TrekkerTeach (@trekkerteach12) July 16, 2019
Her point is lost when she does basically the same thing. Are we to assume multimillion net worth congressmembers are also whiz traders and real estate mavens in their spare time?
— Internet Denizen (@JungianThing187) July 16, 2019
She’s in a full-blown campaign mode.
— dirtytruckerhat (@dirtytruckerhat) July 16, 2019
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