GOP lawmakers have criticized the operation and repeatedly questioned Holder, who has denied knowledge of Fast and Furious. Some Republicans have called for his resignation.
McCain asked Ohlson whether he learned about the circumstances surrounding Terry’s death while working as Holder’s chief of staff. The DOD nominee said he learned about it through media reports “some time” after leaving that job.
When McCain cited a weekly internal DOJ memo produced while Ohlson was still on the job that contained Fast and Furious information, Ohlson said he did not read that specific weekly memo.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP governors defend Medicaid expansion Obama issues final round of sentence commutations Trump applauds congressional allies as he kicks off inaugural festivities MORE (R-Texas) also raised concerns about what Ohlson knew — and when — about the botched gun-tracking operation.
Ohlson was not the only one facing tough questions from the panel. Mark Lippert, Obama’s nominee for assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, was questioned about reports that he had clashed in the past with James Jones, Obama’s first national security adviser.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) cited media reports that had White House officials accusing Lippert of “rank insubordination” when he was an official for the National Security Council.
Journalist and author Bob Woodward first reported in his book “Obama’s Wars” that Lippert leaked information to the media about Jones that painted the former Marine Corps general in a negative light.
Lippert denied leaking any information about Jones to the media.
“I knew Gen. Jones was the boss,” Lippert said. “It’s clear in my head that I didn’t leak to the press and there wasn’t insubordination.”
Webb also raised concerns about Lippert’s qualifications for what will be a job of increasing importance.
Lippert said he has ample experience that, collectively, has given him the “skill set” to handle the myriad issues that will arise in the Asia-Pacific realm. Specifically, he cited his time “on the ground” as a naval officer in Afghanistan, his “10 years of experience on Capitol Hill” and his time living in the region, as well as his stint with the NSC.
Webb said he and the nominee need to “have a longer conversation” about those issues before he can support the nomination.
Any senator has the power to block a nomination. It was not immediately clear whether McCain, Cornyn or Webb planned to do so.