After the comments caught the public’s attention, several senior retired military officers dropped their support for Mr. Tata. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the former head of the Central Command; Gen. Tony Thomas, the former head of the Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, a former top Air Force general, all asked in June that their names be removed from a letter backing Mr. Tata’s nomination sent by 36 current and former leaders to the Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Tata was meant to succeed John C. Rood, who resigned in February at Mr. Trump’s request. Mr. Rood had pushed back on efforts to withhold military aid to Ukraine, a central issue in Mr. Trump’s impeachment hearings.
One Republican on the armed services panel, Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, had publicly indicated that he was prepared to block the nomination over an unrelated Pentagon policy on adding names to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Other Republican lawmakers were privately unsettled by Mr. Tata’s inflammatory remarks, and taking a vote on the nomination would have put four Republicans on the panel, who are facing difficult re-election battles, in a particularly unsavory position: Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa, Martha McSally of Arizona, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and David Perdue of Georgia.
Democratic lawmakers on the panel were united in opposing Mr. Tata, making the threat of Mr. Cramer’s opposition potentially fatal to moving the nomination out of the committee. That was enough for Mr. Inhofe to cancel the hearing.
The night before canceling the hearing, Mr. Inhofe was overheard discussing the matter in a phone call with Mr. Trump. The call was overheard because Mr. Inhofe put it on speakerphone to hear better as he sat in the Trattoria Alberto restaurant in Washington. During the conversation, Mr. Trump suggested he might give Mr. Tata a different appointment.
On Monday, Mr. Inhofe indicated he would not try to stand in the way of Mr. Trump’s latest move. “While I have always stressed the need to have Senate-confirmed leadership in top Pentagon positions, I believe it is within the president’s authority to appoint D.O.D. officials when and as appropriate,” Mr. Inhofe said in an emailed response to a request for comment. “These are clearly critical positions within the department where a full bench is needed.”
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/politics/tata-pentagon.html