President Obama's nominee to lead the Homeland Security Department is a "political hack," the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Tuesday.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) criticized Jeh Johnson, Obama's pick to lead the agency, and said outgoing New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis would have been better choices.
Johnson's nomination is "a signal to me from the administration that they’re not taking Homeland Security seriously. They’re not taking national security seriously,” McCaul said.
Johnson served as general counsel for the Defense Department during the president’s first term. He would succeed Janet Napolitano, who resigned as Homeland Security chief earlier this year. His confirmation hearing in the Senate is scheduled for Wednesday.
“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt,” McCaul said. “He does have good experience from the Department of Defense. He has good counterterrorism experience from the bin Laden raid. He has cybersecurity experience.”
All of those skills are important, McCaul said, but he warned he does not want a yes man for Obama as the department's leader. "I want somebody to jump in from day one and really lead this organization that is crying out for leadership,” he said.
McCaul said he spoke to Johnson on Monday after the nominee called to talk about McCaul's op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about vacancies in the department's senior leadership.
A number of current and former defense and national security officials have written letters in the last few weeks backing Johnson's nomination.
They include former Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general under President George W. Bush; Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to Bush; and retired four-star Gen. John Allen, among others.