‘I Swore An Oath’: Defense Secretary Nominee Defends Lobbying Background

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Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to shame Defense Secretary Nominee Mark Esper during his Senate Armed Services Committee testimony Tuesday, and he wasn’t having any of it.

Warren asked Esper several questions about Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor where he worked as a lobbyist for over six years, demanding Esper voluntarily extend the required two-year recusal period related to Raytheon matters.

Warren then asked if Esper would volunteer to abide by legislation she introduced in May to prevent former Pentagon officials from working for any defense contractor for four years after they leave.

“No senator, I will not,” Esper replied to Warren. (RELATED: Announces Patrick Shanahan Is Out As Defense Secretary)


“The American people deserve to know that you’re making decisions in our country’s best security interests, not in your own financial interests,” Warren argued.

“You can’t make those commitments to this committee. That means you should not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense,” she said, finishing remarks two-minutes beyond her allotted time.

Esper then asked to speak and said:

“At the age of 18 I went to West Point, and I swore an oath to defend this constitution, and I embraced a mottos called duty and honor and country, and I’ve lived my life in accordance with those values ever since then,” he began.

“I went to war for this country. I served overseas for this country. I’ve stepped down from jobs that paid me much more than I was making anywhere else. Each time it was to serve the public good and to serve the young men and women of our armed services so no, I disagree.”

“I think the presumption is, for some reason, that anyone who comes from the business or corporate world is corrupt,” he said.

Warren said “this is outrageous” and pushed her microphone to the side.

Republican Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan then asked Esper if he would commit to abide by all laws and ethics requirements regarding his prior employment with Raytheon, unequivocally.

“Absolutely,” Esper said.

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