Menendez Enraged By State Dept Official at Hearing: ‘I’m Not Asking Russia… I’m Asking You!’
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tore into a State Department official during a hearing this week after she brushed off a question about a nuclear arms treaty.
“If New START expires, could Russia target the United States with hundreds or perhaps thousands of new nuclear warheads?” Menendez asked Andrea Thompson, an undersecretary for the State Department during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday.
Thompson responded “that’s a good question for Russia.”
“No, that’s a good question for you,” Menendez shot back, angered. “The disdain the State Department has when they come here, I don’t appreciate it.”
“I’m not asking Russia about our national defense, I’m asking you,” Menendez said.
When he asked the question again, Thompson refused to entertain an answer, calling the question a “hypothetical.”
Menendez’s question concerned the New START treaty, which Reuters reported President Donald Trump criticized in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his first call as president with the Russian leader.
Fire from Bob Menendez when he asks Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson about Russian nuclear plans without New START.
Thompson: “It’s a good question for Russia, senator.”
Menendez: “I’m not asking Russia about our national defense. I’m asking you.” pic.twitter.com/v3i0VXMhIr
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 15, 2019
New START had given both countries until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades.
The 10-year treaty went into effect in 2011, but a Russian diplomatic official said earlier this year that the Trump administration has so far refused to negotiate an extension to the treaty.
Thompson previously told reporters that the treaty expires in 2021, and “it is a relatively simple treaty to extend, so we have time with that.”
The webpage explaining the treaty on the current State Department website has been taken down. A webpage explaining the treaty under the Barack Obama administration’s State Department is archived online.
(Watch above, video via Senate Committee on Foreign Relations)
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