"Based on today's hearing and my review of the record, I believe General Harding has adequately addressed my concerns regarding his former firm's contract with the Defense Department," Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in a statement after one of the hearings on the nomination. A spokeswoman for the chairman of the committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), said that he "was satisfied with the General's responses to multiple questions about the contract that were posed to him at today's hearing."
The fresh questions about Harding's decision to identify sleep apnea as a service disability were simply an extension of what congressional aides thought was a reasonable, even swift, review of Obama's pick.
"The senate was making a good faith effort to review the background of the nominee," one congressional aide said, speaking on the condition he not be named.
Over the weekend, a senior White House official defended the vetting of Harding, saying the counsel's office has nearly a dozen lawyers working with the Justice Department and the FBI to scrub the backgrounds of nominees who need senate confirmation.
No matter how much work is done to unearth every detail about a nominee, "the process is still subject to the vagaries of memory and available documentation, especially if the issue is years' old," one senior administration official said. "No amount of resources can fully address that."
But the White House has said little about the $100 million contract that led Harding to withdraw. And Harding has not volunteered any answer.
His public statement, released by the White House, offered no details: "I feel that the distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this administration nor for the Department of Homeland Security," it said.