Sources: Obama will nominate Hagel as defense secretary

US Senator Chuck Hagel waits for Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at the premier's official residence on October 16, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Democratic sources in the defense community and in Congress tell CBS News that President Obama will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be the next secretary of defense.

The sources tell CBS they were alerted of the nomination by Obama administration officials. Two sources said the announcement could come as early as Monday.

White House officials insist President Obama has not decided on a new defense secretary or offered anyone a job.

Even so, White House officials conceded the ask-and-answer part of that dynamic is formulaic and carries with it zero suspense.

The White House has made clear it considers the attacks on Hagel -- regarding his previous comments that could be considered anti-Israel or anti-gay-rights -- as marginally important politically and something Mr. Obama can and will surmount.

Mr. Obama is also under public pressure not to buckle under to outside criticism of nominees under serious consideration but not yet picked.

The president accepted U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's withdrawal from consideration as secretary of state when criticism over her description of the motivations for the terrorist raid on the U.S. consular office in Benghazi, Libya proved insurmountable.

Hagel has tattered relations with Senate Republicans and Mr. Obama's selection is unlikely to curry favor with the GOP.

  • Major Garrett

Comments