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GOP chair rips new Pentagon chief of staff, urges Austin to 'reconsider'

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) blasted new Pentagon Chief of Staff Derek Chollet as “absolutely unqualified” on Monday, urging Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to “reconsider” his pick for the No. 3 official in the department.

Austin named Chollet, currently a senior State Department adviser, as the Pentagon’s new chief of staff earlier Monday, replacing the outgoing Kelly Magsamen. 

“He is absolutely unqualified for this position,” McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement first shared with Politico.

“With the many national security threats this country is facing, we need real leadership at the Defense Department — and Derek Chollet is not that,” he continued. “I strongly urge the secretary to reconsider this move.”

The chairman cited his committee’s investigation into the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, for which Chollet testified.

“His lack of candor in my committee’s transcribed interview together with his flippant public remarks about his work at the State Department make it clear he is neither a serious person nor is he trustworthy,” McCaul said.

Chollet was previously nominated to be the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy last year, though it has been stalled for months due to GOP opposition. Since an initial hearing in September, which featured a grueling questioning by skeptical Republicans, there have been no votes to advance his nomination. 

Cabinet officials lauded Chollet’s work in announcing his Pentagon move earlier Monday.

“He is one of the most distinguished, far-sighted, and skillful national-security practitioners of his generation, and I am grateful to him for taking on this key assignment at such an important moment,” Austin said in a statement. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Chollet as providing “wise counsel and steady hand” as a leading diplomatic figure over the past nine months since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.

Source: The Hill

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