Warren questions defense secretary nominee over ethics concerns

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., voiced her opposition to Mike Esper due to ethics concerns, even accusing him of "corruption."
6:17 | 07/16/19

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Transcript for Warren questions defense secretary nominee over ethics concerns
Thank you mr. chairman and secretary Caspar prior to becoming army secretary you would be top lobbyist for Raytheon. Which of course is they nation's third largest defense contractor. Now under current ethics rules your prohibited from participating in any decisions involving Raytheon. For two years after your appointment as army secretary. But because you have already banning government for twenty months that refusal period is set to expire in November. Which means you'll soon be able to participate personally and substantially. And matters involving her former employer. That's a conflict of interests given that Raytheon does billions of dollars worth of business every year with the Defense Department. So secretary asked for your predecessor. Acting secretary Shanahan committed to extending his refusal. From all matters involving his former employer Boeing for the duration. Of his government service. If you're confirmed it will you do the same and commit to extending your recusal. From any and all matters involving Raytheon for you for the duration of York tenure as secretary of defense. No sent to re add this discussion in office yes we had this discussion a couple of years ago. You know on the advice of art my ethics the folks at dependent on the the career professionals. No the recommendation is not to the belief is that. The screening process I hadn't place. All the rules and regulations and what and law that lets just cut are not going to do what secretary nation acting secretary Shanahan agreed to do. And that is agree not to be involved in decisions involving her former employer where you're at lobbyists. For the duration of your time as secretary of defense sent strike I can't explain why he made Beckman we obviously come to them. He was it's like you're not willingly take the same commitment to you that Wright was fulfilling a different role and I am and he obvious you are unwilling to make that same commitment is that right doctorate as a different professional background I'll take that as a gesture unwilling to make that commitment. That is not only ethics problem with your nomination. Part of the deal you got from Raytheon when you laughed as their top lobbyist was at least a million dollars in deferred compensation. After 20/20 two. Now the law prohibits you from participating in matters that would affect Raytheon ability or willingness. To hand you this massive pay. But there's catch and a recent memo detailed an exception to your ethics obligations. I writing that you can get a waiver to participated matters that directly and predictably. Affect Raytheon its financial interests if it's quote so important that it cannot be referred to another official in quiet. This smacks of corruption plain and simple so here's my question will you commit. That during your time as Defense Secretary that you will not seek any waiver. That will allow you to participate in matters that affect Raytheon its financial interests. Such a let me correct director with a group which he said. At any time in the past twenty some months to include last through weeks deny requests or seek. Or receiver be granted any waiver. I thought I appreciate doctor as for that you have not in the past ask and want it but you have you can my finance adequate who has. By saying that you can seek a waiver in the future and so I'm asking if your confirmed. Will you agree not to seek such a way for I think it's fair question if you never know. I have other ethics issues I'd like to know and I would like to I think this is a good debate and I don't I'm not trying to have a debate nine I want I don't know where you have Michael agreeing not to seek such a waiver so and let me just read you this is a letter from the direct isn't that a yes it's Oregon office. I'll take as thin as you know you will not agree not to seek such a brave astronaut to I have the for the the merger question to ask about ethics I think I'm entitled athletes and much money has been. I can't actually have to yes or no. You know zero here I think that doctor history as the opportunity should have the opportunity to answer the questions that you're asking. You guys broke questions he's trying to answer question we'd like to recognize him to answer that question I I would assume mr. chairman I'll get extra time. Yet you have extra time. Did. Districts. I would just like this but just for the record it's a statement from the director of the standards of conduct officer I won't read the whole thing in the interest of time but says quote. At no time while serving as secretary of the army and acting sector defense. Did you he's writing to me requests seek or receive a waiver authorization relate your ethics agreement and ethics obligations on. Okay Stuart Urquhart. So I stipulated earlier that I understand you have not asked in the past so I'll ask my question I can't. Will you agree not to ask for a waiver during the time you serve as secretary of defense. I know senator won't because I'm going to continue to abide by the rules and regulations and I'm gonna make me. And I ever could third and well Allison with my aunt experts note to ensure that we stay and ethical midfield. I recently introduced legislation to block the revolving door between the Pentagon a giant defense contractors like Raytheon. By prohibiting big defense contractors from hiring former senior DOD officials for four years after they leave government. It or the law you couldn't go back to work at Raytheon or any other defense contractor immediately and other words it would help close the revolving door. If confirmed will you commit not to work for or get paid by any defense contractor. For at least four years after your government service medicine trauma all right so let me get this straight. You're still didn't get at least a million dollar payout from when you lobbied for Raytheon. You want to match recuse yourself from Raytheon its decision. You insist on being free to seek a waiver that would like you make decisions affecting Raytheon is bottom line and you are remaining financial interest. And you won't rule out taking a trip right back through the revolving door. On your way out of government service or even just delaying that trip for four years after you leave government. Secretary Caspar the American people deserve to know that you're making decisions in our countries. Best security interests not in your own financial interests.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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