Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,Samantha Power took on a wide range of questions from senators on topics from war authorization to nuclear proliferation.
Sen. Robert Menendez,D-N.J.,the committee chair,said no one could question Power’s credentials or service.
“And,certainly,” he said,“no one can question your willingness to speak your mind.”
That willingness to speak her mind,however,is exactly what many Republicans on the committee took issue with.
Power first made national headlines in 2008 – while she worked as a foreign policy adviser for Obama during his primary campaign against Hillary Clinton – when Power called the former first lady a “monster.”
But Power’s statements at the hearing were much vaguer – at times she avoided the subjects of the questions altogether.
One of the more interesting exchanges came during questioning from Sen. Marco Rubio,R-Fla.,when he asked Power about a piece she wrote in 2003 for the “New Republic,” in which she said the United States needed “a historical reckoning with crimes committed,sponsored,or permitted by the United States.”
“I believe the United States is the greatest country on earth. I really do,” Power said,adding that she would “never apologize for America.”
Rubio pressed her further on the point.
“But which crimes were you referring to?” Rubio said.
“Again,sir,I think this is the greatest country on earth.”
The senator seemed nonplussed at her response.
“So your answer to whether we committed or sponsored crimes is that the United States is the greatest country on earth,” he said.
Power had more pointed questioning from Sen. Rand Paul,R-Ky.
“When we intervene in countries,who gets to make that decision,the president or the Congress?” he asked.
Power began a rambling response.
“Well,let me just say,” she said,“I hope the last few weeks,that the past is prologue in a way. If I am confirmed,I would benefit enormously if I could maintain the relationships that I’ve begun to forge here in these last weeks and continue these conversations. So,consultation is indispensable. I cannot do this job,even if confirmed …”
Paul broke in,asking again,“Congress or the president decides whether or not we go to war?”
“…without you,” she said. “As you know,there’s a longstanding debate between the executive and the legislature that’s crossed Republican and Democratic administrations about authorizations for the use of force. And all I can say is that I promise to consult with you extensively at all times.”
“Sounds like a non-response response,” Paul said.
The committee is expected to vote on Power’s nomination Tuesday.
Reach reporter Memet Walker at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFwire.