Former US Rep Pete Hoekstra said Thursday he would accept the position of CIA director if offered to him by the incoming Trump administration, while also taking positions on waterboarding and Russia likely to inflame critics in a potential confirmation battle.
Hoekstra — a former representative from Michigan who chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2004-2007 — said told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” that he’d “take the job if Mr. Trump decided that someone with my kind of background experience is what he wanted in the job.”
Asked whether he supported the use of waterboarding — which Congress banned along with other interrogation torture techniques in 2009 — Hoekstra hedged, at first saying that “Congress has spoken on that.”
“If there was a decision to move in another direction and to perhaps do that, that would be a process that you would have to work through with Congress,” he added.
“Are you personally comfortable with using waterboarding as a tactic?” Camerota followed up.
“Well, you have to take a look at specifically what is going on and what the circumstances are at any given situation as to where you would use it,” Hoekstra said. “I think that this will be a clear discussion between this administration and Congress to develop a long-term strategy in terms of how do we get the information that a president and Congress needs to make the right decision to keep America safe?”
Hoekstra was then asked how the Trump administration should respond to Russia’s role in cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the US presidential election.
“We shouldn’t tell the Russians that we are going to retaliate. One of these days, maybe the Russians will wake up and they will be taking a look at something and they’ll say, ‘wow, I wonder what happened here. How did this happen?’ And they’ll be left wondering whether it was the United States or some hacking group, or whether it was something else that caused a problem within Russia,” he said.
“You don’t send signals as to what you are going to do. There may be direct discussions between the president and Mr. Putin. There are a number of options, but what you don’t do is you don’t telegraph to the Russians and to others exactly what you may or may not do,” Hoekstra added.
Hoekstra also said that he’s not a member of Trump’s transition team, explaining that “at this point in time, I’m an informal adviser, and we’re kind of working through the details as to what role I may play in the transition team.”
Trump’s transition team announced Wednesday night anyone being vetted for a high post in the administration must provide a termination of lobbying form if they are a registered lobbyist. Hoesktra last registered as a lobbyist on October 15.