U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty Weighs in on Blinken’s Lack of Leadership, Freedom to Vote Act, and Reconciliation


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) to the newsmaker line to discuss Tuesday’s hearing with Secretary of State Blinken, the Democrats’ intentions o the Freedom to Vote Act, and how the Senate parliamentarian may rule on an ominous spending package through reconciliation.

Leahy: We are joined on a newsmaker line by Senator Bill Hagerty. Good morning, Senator Hagerty.

Hagerty: Good morning. Great to be back with you.

Leahy: You had in testimony yesterday, a committee hearing, a Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified. Did he testify in person or did he do it via Zoom?

Hagerty: He testified in person with the U.S. Senate. He did Zoom with the House, but he came in person to meet with the United States Senate. Regretfully, Secretary Lloyd Austin did not show up.

Leahy: Wow.

Hagerty: So Blinken could take the questions on his own.

Leahy: Why did Austin not show up?

Hagerty: He didn’t give an answer for that, except to say, I’m speculating here now, but it’s much easier for Blinken to say, I don’t know. You need to ask the Department of Defense. It makes it easier to deflect when both parties aren’t there.

And that, of course, happened. We saw a lot of spinning and deflection that took place yesterday. But it’s just part and parcel of the overall Biden approach to everything. It’s run by press releases and spin.

They don’t want to accept accountability for the damage that’s been done. And I tell you, the damage here has been significant.

Leahy: You asked a very pressing question of Secretary of State Blinken. Tell us what you asked. Tell us what his response was and your reaction to that response.

Hagerty: My business background and my leadership background basically say if you’ve created a problem, you need to own it and you need to address it head-on. What has not happened here is we’ve had zero accountability.

And so I simply asked the secretary of state, who is the chief diplomat, the person that’s responsible for our presence in Afghanistan, and whether he had submitted his resignation over this.

I would have thought that several people would have offered to resign in the wake of the travesty that’s taking place here. The answer I got was no.

And my response was there’s just been a complete lack of accountability up and down the line here with the Biden administration. In fact, the only person that has been fired over this is a military officer who suggested there should be accountability.

Leahy: Speaking of military officers, this wasn’t in your hearing yesterday, but I’m sure you saw the report in the book by Bob Woodward. His sources, by the way, are anonymous.

I suppose you’d have to call him in to testify and provide his evidence for this. But he claimed that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley called his counterpart in China and said, hey, I don’t really trust President Trump.

And I’m paraphrasing here. I will call you if we’re going to attack you. Then he said, apparently, on January 6, after the riot at the Capitol, called all the subordinates in and said, don’t obey the president. Obey me. President Trump said, if true, that’s treasonous. What are your thoughts on that?

Hagerty: I agree with the president if true. Again, I hate to respond to anonymous sources in a book compiled by a D.C. journalist. That’s a recipe for disaster. But I was shocked to hear the claim.

It absolutely would violate the chain of command. That is not the role of the military since going all the way back to George Washington. Civilian control of the military has been our norm, our rule.

And Mark Milley is not the person in charge of the military, nor should he be. And that again, if it’s true, I want to caveat this because again, I got a healthy concern about any type of statements like this coming from anonymous sources.

But if it’s true, I think it’s a matter of huge concern because it would be a dereliction of duty, a violation of the chain of command, and well beyond his permit.

Leahy: As the United States Senator, will you ask the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to either confirm or deny that report?

Hagerty: Yes. I was talking with Tom Cotton, who is actually going to have him in front of his committee I think in the next couple of days, and that is definitely the plan.

I’ve talked about it, and that question will be asked. I’m not on that committee where the hearing will take place but if I were, I certainly would.

Leahy: That sounds good. Tell me what you take on this guy who testified before you yesterday. Apparently, our Secretary of State has been confirmed by the Senate, Antony Blinken?

I call him the beta male secretary of state. Probably one of the worst secretary of state we’ve ever had. What’s your take about him as a leader?

Hagerty: That’s where I closed in my statement with Secretary Blinken. I called him in to lead. I said this has been an abject failure of leadership here. Leadership requires that when a mistake is made, then one steps up and owns it.

And they’ve done everything they can but own it. They’ve tried blaming President Trump. They blamed the Afghans. They blamed the military and intelligence. Again, they weren’t at the table yesterday, so it’s easy to deflect.

But this has been nothing but an exercise and shifting blame. That’s the absolute opposite of leadership. And I’ve been extraordinarily disappointed at the spin that’s coming down the pipe.

I also have a reasonable view of this that Blinken has worked for Joe Biden for years. He was his staff director when Biden was a Senator and staff director of the Foreign Relations Committee when Joe Biden chaired it.

So my sense is that Lincoln may well be protecting Joe Biden. He did say this. When I asked Blinken, who had the ultimate responsibility, I wanted him to articulate that, he said it was President Biden.

And President Biden has done anything but accept responsibility for this. I think that Blinken has been certainly put in that position because of his close relationship to President Biden.

What he’s doing right now is protecting him and covering for him. He has not been stepping up to the role that I would have expected. Certainly, the disaster in Afghanistan is proof positive of that. So it’s been quite a disappointment.

Leahy: Let me shift gears to some other business in the Senate. I don’t know if you follow this because it was a very busy day yesterday, and some of this may be new to you, but let me just kind of throw this out there.

Many things are happening, so many proposals are being put forward. Senator Amy Klobuchar and a number of Democrats, including Joe Manchin, by the way of West Virginia, have introduced a bill called the Freedom to Vote Act.

And in essence, they’re trying for the third time to nationalize elections. Of course, the Constitution says it’s the state legislatures that determine the rules and the conduct of elections in their states.

One of the elements of that is they would require every state to have a certain number of drop boxes for the deposit of absentee ballots. Only 13 state legislatures have authorized that. Here in Tennessee, we don’t have drop boxes.

What do you make of that particular proposal? I know you may not have had time to read the 594-page bill that was introduced yesterday, but that’s a key element of it. Do you have any initial reaction to that?

Hagerty: Yes. My initial reaction to it is they are going to try every angle they can to take control of our elections and do it in a way that gives an advantage to the Democrats. They’re trying to put themselves in a position to have permanent control of this nation.

And it’s very telling that what they go to again, the very first piece of legislation that they introduced, HR1 in the House S1 in the Senate.

Their top priority legislation for this Congress has been to change and to federalize the voting rolls in a way that gives them an advantage.

And drop boxes go right along with mail out ballots. They go right along with ballot harvesting. These are all part and parcel of the same strategy. And you and I’ve talked about this before. There was a bipartisan commission shared by both former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, and the two things that they identified as most ripe for fraud were ballot harvesting and mail-in voting.

And this component that you described the dropbox is just a part of that whole scheme, that whole strategy. They’re going to try every angle that they can to make our elections less secure.

And clearly, they believe that if the elections are less secure, that puts them in a better position to win. That means that they’re going to be in proprieties in the process. And I think it’s shameful.

Leahy: They’re trying to put also through this $3.5 trillion spending bill together. It’s got spending, but it’s got a lot of other things in it beyond that are very damaging.

I guess they want to make illegals legal in this bill and a lot of other things. What’s going to happen with that bill?

Hagerty: It’s under intense negotiation amongst the Democrats right now. They’re not talking with Republicans. They’re not working with Republicans. They’re trying to get their folks in line because all they need is a 50 person vote.

They need every single one of the Democrats on board. They don’t need a single Republican to do what they call reconciliation, which is a parliamentary gimmick that was originally designed to clean up technical problems in a budget bill.

And what they’re using it for now is to shove through the biggest tax spending program that we have ever seen. It’s going to be cradle to grave dependency on the government.

It’s going to be the most massive tax hikes that will put our nation into the least competitive posture across all major economies. And it’s going to essentially destroy the fossil fuel industry in America.

This notion of amnesty and bringing all these illegal aliens that have come across the border into some sort of legal status, I would be shocked if that survives the parliamentarian’s tests. But they’re going to put it in there anyway. And if nothing else as a messaging opportunity to their base.

Leahy: Senator Hagerty we have one more brief question for you. Crom Carmichael is in studio and has a question for you.

Carmichael: Senator, what’s the name of the parliamentarian and the parliamentarian as appointed by Schumer, what hope do you have that the parliamentarian will keep the rules the way they have historically been?

Hagerty: Her name is Elizabeth MacDonough. She was appointed actually by Harry Reid. But the same party as Schumer. And this is something that we’re going to have to watch very closely.

She’s certainly going to have a tremendous amount of pressure and a tremendous amount of pressure problem has already been put on her. But she stepped back.

Schumer had a desire to be able to do multiple reconciliations. She stopped that. She has in the past taken actions that again, we’re taking things out that we’re not in any way related to the reconciliation package.

For example, the $15 an hour minimum wage, which is what they tried to put into the COVID pandemic relief package and the $1.9 trillion special they did back in March that was only generously speaking 10 percent having anything to do with the COVID pandemic relief.

Everything else was to bail out blue states and more government spending. Again, one of the things that have initiated this massive inflation we’re experiencing right now. But I think we’re going to watch it very carefully.

The rules are there to be interpreted. I think she’s going to have a hard time interpreting it in a way that would accommodate something like they’re requesting here on amnesty.

Leahy: Senator Hagerty, we’ve gone long here, but we really appreciate all the time you spend with us. Thanks for joining us. Please come back again.

Hagerty: Great to be here. Thank you.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















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One Thought to “U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty Weighs in on Blinken’s Lack of Leadership, Freedom to Vote Act, and Reconciliation”

  1. William Delzell

    My differences with Blinken are his blind support for Israel, not his defense of Biden’s decision to pull out of Afganistan, where we did not belong in the first place. If Haggerty and Blackburn want to keep the U.S. fighting in Afganistan, then they should go over themselves to risk their own lives, not the lives of any other American!