Full Text Obama Presidency November 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Source: WH, 11-24-14 

State Dining Room

11:10 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: About a year ago, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was visiting our troops in the Republic of Korea thanking them for their service and answering their questions, and they asked about the usual topics, about our national security, the future of our military. And then one soldier, a sergeant from Ohio asked him, what was the most pertinent question of the day, which was what was your favorite college football team. To which Chuck replied, born and raised in Nebraska, I don’t have a choice; I am a strong Cornhuskers fan.

Now there was a time when an enlisted soldier might have been reluctant to ask that kind of question of the Secretary of Defense. But Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense. As the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands our men and women like few others, because he’s stood where they stood, he’s been in the dirt and he’s been in the mud, and that’s established a special bond. He sees himself in them and they see themselves in him. And their safety, their lives, have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.

When I asked Chuck to serve as Secretary of Defense we were entering a significant period of transition. The draw-down in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. Over nearly two years, Chuck has been an exemplary Defense Secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernized our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats, while still responding to immediate challenges like ISIL and Ebola. Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing, engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future.

Now last month, Chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service. Let me just say that Chuck is and has been a great friend of mine. I’ve known him, admired him and trusted him for nearly a decade since I was a green-behind-the-ears, freshman senator, and we were both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If there’s one thing I know about Chuck, it’s that he does not make this or any decision lightly, this decision does not come easily to him, but I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have had him by my side for two years. And I am grateful that Chuck has agreed to stay on until I nominate a successor and that successor is confirmed by the Senate. Which means that he’ll continue to guide our troops at this challenging time.

I’ll have more opportunity to pay tribute to Chuck’s life of service in the days ahead. For now, let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform across more than six decades. He volunteered for Vietnam and still carries the scars and shrapnel from the battles that he fought. At the VA, he fought to give our veterans, especially his fellow Vietnam veterans, the benefits they had earned. As head of the USO, he made sure America always honors our troops. As a Senator, he helped lead the fight for the post-9/11 GI Bill, which is helping so many of our newest veterans and their families realize their dreams of a college education. As Secretary, Chuck has helped transition our military and bolstered America’s leadership around the world. During his tenure, Afghan forces took the lead for security in Afghanistan. Our forces have drawn down. Our combat mission there ends next month, and we’ll partner with Afghans to preserve the gains we have made.

The NATO Alliance is as strong as it has ever been, and we have reassured our allies with our increased presence in Central and Eastern Europe. We’ve modernized our alliances in the Asia Pacific; updated our defense posture and recently agreed to improve communications between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. Chuck has been critical to all these accomplishments.

Meanwhile, Chuck has ensured that our military is ready for new missions. Today our men and women in uniform are taking the fight against ISIL in Iraq, in Syria, and Chuck helped build the international coalition to ensure that the world is meeting this threat together.

Today our forces are helping to support the civilian effort against Ebola in West Africa, a reminder, as Chuck likes to say, that America’s military is the greatest force for good in the world.

Finally, in a very difficult budgetary environment, Chuck has never lost sight of key priorities. The readiness of our force and the quality of our life of our troops and their families. He’s launched new reforms to ensure that even as our military is leaner, it remains the strongest in the world and so our troops can continue to get the pay, the housing, the healthcare, the childcare that they and their families need — reforms that we need Congress to now support.

At the same time, after the tragedies we’ve seen, Chuck has helped lead the effort to improve security at our military installations and to stamp out the scourge of sexual assault from the ranks.

Chuck, I also want to thank you on a personal level. We come from different parties, but in accepting this position you send a powerful message — especially to folks in this city — that when it comes to our national security and caring for our troops and their families, we are all Americans first. When I nominated you for this position, you said that you’d always give me your honest advice and informed counsel. You have. When it’s mattered most — behind closed doors, in the Oval Office –you’ve always given it to me straight. And for that I will always be grateful.

I recall when I was a nominee in 2008, and I traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq. Chuck Hagel accompanied me on that trip along with Jack Reed. And it’s pretty rare at a time when sometimes this town is so politicized to have a friend who was willing to accompany a nominee from another party because he understood that whoever ended up being President, what was most important was that we were unified when we confronted the challenges that we see overseas. And that’s the kind of class and integrity that Chuck Hagel has always represented.

 

Now, Chuck, you’ve said that a life is only as good as the family you have and the friends you surround yourself with. And in that, you are blessed. I want to thank Lilibet, your son Ziller and your daughter Allyn for the sacrifices that they’ve made as well. I know that as reluctant as we are to see you go, they are equally excited to getting their husband and father back. And I’m sure the Cornhuskers are also happy that a fan will be there to cheer them on more often.

Today, the United States of America can proudly claim the strongest military the world has ever known. That’s the result of investments made over many decades, the blood and treasure and sacrifices of generations. It’s the result of the character and wisdom those who lead them, as well — including a young Army sergeant in Vietnam who our rose to serve as our nation’s 24th Secretary of Defense. So on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Chuck. (Applause.)

SECRETARY HAGEL: Thank you very much.

Mr. President, thank you -– thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -– thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.

I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I’ve had to serve with each of you and the privilege it’s been in every way.

And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -– but it’s a team. It’s all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I’ve had the honor of serving in this position.

And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It’s been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve — to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.

And we’ve launched important reforms that the President noted — reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department –- the Department of Defense -– but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have done this job.

As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to –- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -– acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.

I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said –- and as the President noted –- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.

I’d also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill — my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.

I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me — in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President –- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.

And finally I’d like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.

Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that’s part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:25 A.M. EST

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Political Musings November 24, 2014: Obama forces Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign over war with ISIS

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama forces Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign over war with ISIS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned on Monday morning, Nov. 24, 2014, the New York Times was the first to break the story. President Barack Obama asked Hagel to step-down based on the way the war against ISIS, the Islamic…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Chuck Hagel sworn in as Defense Secretary & first remarks at the Pentagon

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Chuck Hagel sworn in, first remarks at the Pentagon (video)

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

Chuck Hagel was sworn in Wednesday as defense secretary — President Barack Obama’s third in just over four years — and said that one of his highest priorities will be ensuring fair treatment of troops, veterans and their families….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement from the President on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

Source: WH, 2-26-13

With the bipartisan confirmation of Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense, we will have the defense secretary our nation needs and the leader our troops deserve.  From the moment he volunteered for military service in Vietnam, Chuck has devoted his life to keeping America secure and our armed forces strong.  An American patriot who fought and bled for our country, he understands our sacred obligations to our service members, military families and veterans.

I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.  Most of all, I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people.

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary with Vote of 58-41

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Confirms Hagel as Defense Secretary

Source: WSJ, 2-26-13

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Chuck Hagel as the nation’s next defense secretary largely along party lines, after several Republicans earlier in the day ended their effort to stop a vote on the former senator….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate clears path for final vote on Chuck Hagel’s defense secretary nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate clears path for final vote on Hagel nomination

Source: WaPo, 2-26-13

Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) bid to win confirmation as the next defense secretary cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, beating back a Republican effort to block his nomination almost two weeks after GOP senators launched a filibuster. Following a 71 to 27 vote, Hagel is now poised for a final confirmation vote later Tuesday or early Wednesday over Republican objections to his views on Middle East security….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 8, 2013: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s Speech at his Farewell Ceremony — Transcript

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Panetta Calls Leading Troops Greatest Honor

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta walks away the podium after giving his remarks during an armed forces farewell tribute in his honor on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

In one of his last speeches as defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta praised service members as talented men and women, noting they have done everything the nation has asked them to do and more. “I will have no greater honor in my life than to have been able to lead them as secretary of defense,” Panetta said during a farewell ceremony in his honor on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013.

Farewell Ceremony

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson , Friday, February 08, 2013

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Mr. President, I am deeply touched by your moving words about me, about my family, and, more importantly, about the men and women who serve in the Department of Defense.  All of us all truly honored by your presence, and I thank you.

Let me also take this moment to thank Michelle and Jill Biden for the outstanding work that they’ve done in leading the Joining Forces Initiative, which has provided great support for military families who have done so much for us.

Marty Dempsey, I appreciate your kind remarks.  Marty and I have testified before Congress — this is 11th time, yesterday, that we’ve done that, and we’ve also done 10 press conferences together.  We are developing a very convincing case for collecting hazard pay in these jobs.

As we used to say when I was in the Army, there isn’t anyone I’d rather be in the foxhole with than Marty Dempsey.  I cannot tell you what a privilege it has been to work with you and to work with all of the service chiefs.  We’ve dealt with some very tough issues, and there is no way that I could have done this job without your support, without your loyalty, and without your dedication.

Members of Congress, leaders of the administration, leaders of the Department of Defense, distinguished guests, many dear friends who we’ve known over the years, Sylvia and I are very thankful to all of you for coming here today.  This is, without question, the fanciest sendoff I’ve ever gotten in Washington.

Let me remember the words of President Harry Truman, who once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”  And that’s just what I did.

And I am grateful that Bravo is here today.  Bravo was in all of the meetings when we planned the bin Laden operation, and he also sat in on many of the sensitive meetings and discussions that I had at the Pentagon.  And I want you to know that he has never told a soul what he heard.

He is definitely not a leaker, at least according to that definition of the word.

You’ve heard of the movie Zero Dark Thirty?  The producer is seriously considering a new movie about Bravo, entitled Zero Bark Thirty.

It’s been 50 years of public service, and I have always and will always cherish the deep and lasting friendships that I’ve made here in Washington.  And I’m extremely grateful that so many of those friends could be here this afternoon.

I have spent a long time in this town.  As the son of immigrants, as the president pointed out, I have truly lived the American dream.  Being an Italian-American in Congress, at senior levels in the executive branch, has been for me a very unique experience.  I have never lost my awe by the sight of the Capitol and the White House at night.  It still is a very special experience.

I can also remember when I was first elected to the House of Representatives, there was a member of that — I think the President may recall — by the name of Frank Annunzio from Chicago, who came up to me and said, “Panetta, that’s Italian.”  I said, “Yes, it is.”  He said, “Good.”  He said, “I want you to join the Italian caucus.”  Of course, I was not going to say no to an Italian from Chicago.

He said, “Great.”  He said, “We don’t do much on issues, but we eat good.”

And that was true.

Many years later, when I came to Langley as President Obama’s Director of Central Intelligence, I got a mug from my family with a big CIA, standing for “California, Italian, American.”

In all seriousness, Mr. President, I want to express my deepest thanks to you for the opportunity to serve this country again as a member of your Administration.  It has been a tremendous honor and a tremendous privilege these past four years, and especially now as the 23rd Secretary of Defense.

I hope that in some small way I have helped to fulfill the dream of my parents, the dream that they wanted and the dream that all of us want, of giving our children a better life.

It’s been for me a hell of a ride.  I will never forget the pride and exhilaration when I walked out of the White House after the president announced the success of the bin Laden operation and I could heard the chants of those people who were gathered around the White House and in Lafayette Park yelling, “USA, USA.”   Thank you, Mr. President, for your strong support in what was a very tough decision.  The memory of that operation and the team that helped put it together, both the intelligence team and the military team, will be with me forever.

I’ll remember traveling to combat theaters and bases around the world, looking into the eyes of brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day for this country.  I’ll remember the moments when we’ve honored veterans of past wars and when we’ve been inspired by servicemembers and wounded warriors returning from today’s wars.

And I’ll always remember the moments of grief, when this nation has rendered final honors to our fallen heroes and when we’ve had to comfort their families.  Writing notes of condolence to those families who have lost loved ones has been for me one of my toughest jobs.  These moments of selflessness, these moments of sacrifice, of courage, of heroism, give me a renewed sense of pride in our country, and it gives me an optimism for the future.

I’ve witnessed a new generation of Americans ask themselves what they could do for their country, and I have seen the profound difference that talented men and women with a sense of duty and sacrifice can make in the life of this nation and in the life of our world.

For more than a decade of war, our democracy has depended on the men and women of the United States military to bear the awesome burden and to preserve our freedom.  They have done everything the nation asked them to do, and more, and I will have no greater honor in my life than to have been able to lead them as Secretary of Defense.

I learned a long time ago that there’s not much you can accomplish in Washington on your own; you need a team behind you.  And at the Department of Defense, I’ve been blessed with an exceptional team, from senior civilian and military leaders, all the way down the chain of command.  And together, I’m proud of the important achievements that we’ve been able to accomplish for the nation.

We’ve developed and we have begun implementing a new defense strategy for the 21st century that protects the strongest military power in the world and meets our responsibility to fiscal discipline.  We’re bringing, as the president said, more than a decade of war to a responsible end, ending the war in Iraq, giving the Iraqi people a chance to secure and govern themselves.  And in Afghanistan, our campaign is well on track to completing that mission.  We’re committed to an enduring relationship with the Afghan people so that they, too, can govern and secure themselves in the future.

We’ve kept pressure on al-Qaeda, and we’re going after extremists wherever they may hide, and we have shown the world that nobody attacks the United States of America and gets away with it.

We are keeping faith with and caring for our returning veterans and wounded warriors.  I am particularly proud that we have expanded opportunities for everyone to serve in our military.  In our democracy, in a democracy, everybody should be given a chance to meet the qualifications needed to serve this country.  This is a basic value that we fight to protect.

Despite the progress we’ve made together, there’s no question that there remain some very significant challenges, the dangers and instability abroad, budget constraints, political gridlock here at home.  But one thing I have learned is that you cannot be involved in public service and not be optimistic about the future.

I am confident that under the leadership of the president and the leaders in the Congress, that we can and we must stay on the right path to build the military force we need for the 21st century.  Winston Churchill once wrote, “The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.”

This is a time of uncertainty, but my career in public service gives me hope that the leaders of this nation will come together to resolve the challenges facing this country and to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.  We’ve overcome wars, we’ve overcome disasters, we’ve overcome economic depressions and recessions, we’ve overcome crises of every kind throughout the history of our country.  And throughout our history, the fighting spirit of our fellow Americans has made clear that we never, never, never give up.  Our forefathers, the pioneers, the immigrant families that came here all fought together to give our children that better life.  We cannot fail to do the same.

None of us in public service could carry on that fight without the love and support of our families.  Everything I’ve been able to accomplish in my wife — in my life — wife and life together — has been because of the support of my family — my immigrant parents, my family, my sons, their families, but most of all, Sylvia.

We’ve been married 50 years.  She has endured extended absences and long hours and the demands that come with public service, but she has always been there.  And I will never be able to thank her enough for her constant love and support.  Her Valentine gift is both of us going home together.

It has been the honor of my life to have served in the position of Secretary of Defense.  And wherever I go and whatever I do, I will thank God every day for the men and women in this country who are willing to put their lives on the line for all of us.  They have responded to the call of the bugle with courage and with selfless dedication to country.

My prayer as I leave is that we all have the same courage and dedication to protecting our nation, the United States of America, the home of the free and the brave.

God bless America, God bless you, and God bless the men and women of the Department of Defense.

Political Headlines February 8, 2013: President Barack Obama Bids Farewell to Departing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Praises Panetta for Decades of Public Service

Source: DOD, 2-8-13

President Barack Obama hugs Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta during the armed forces farewell tribute to honor him on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary

DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

President Barack Obama praised retiring Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for nearly 50 years of public service and for protecting the dream his parents sought when they came to the United States from Italy. Obama spoke during an armed forces farewell ceremony for Panetta on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Feb. 8, 2013. Panetta is stepping down as the 23rd defense secretary….READ MORE

President Obama Bids Farewell to Leon Panetta

President Obama on Friday praised outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for strengthening the military and making the nation better prepared to meet future challenges.

“No one has raised their voice as firmly or as forcefully on behalf of our troops as you have,” Obama said at a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. “You’ve served with integrity and decency and grace. You’re a reminder of what public service ought to be….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 23, 2013: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Announces Pentagon to Allow Women in Combat

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Pentagon to Allow Women in Combat

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-23-13

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyde

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will lift a longstanding ban on women serving in combat, according to senior defense officials.

The services have until this May to come up with a plan to implement the change, according to a Defense Department official.  That means the changes could come into effect as early as May, though the services will have until January 2016 to complete the implementation of the changes….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 10, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Cabinet Shuffle: Who Is Leaving, Who Was Asked to Stay

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama’s Cabinet Shuffle: Who Is Leaving, Who Was Asked to Stay

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-10-13

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

With the departure of Hilda Solis at the Labor Department, we have now seen five members of the President Obama’s Cabinet announcing their intention to leave since the election: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and now, Secretary of Labor Solis.

Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood has also long suggested he would not stay for a second term.

At least three other cabinet secretaries have been asked to stay as the Obama begins his second term:

  • Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki

READ MORE

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