President Obama today said he had accepted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s resignation, asserting that Hagel had decided that having guided the Pentagon through a transitional period, it was time for him to depart.
Obama spoke during a an event at the White House as Hagel and Vice President Biden looked on.
Despite reports that Hagel had been forced out, the tone of the event at the White House today was warm. Obama was laudatory toward Hagel, saying he had counted him as a friend since his early days in the Senate.
“Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to his nation’s security and our men and women in uniform for more than six decades,” Obama said. He cited a long list of accomplishments Hagel had achieved at the Department of Defense “in a very difficult budgetary environment.”
Obama said called Hagel a man of “class and integrity,” adding, “On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Chuck.”
Hagel, who looked near tears while Obama spoke, nevertheless spoke firmly and thanked the president for his comments.
“I will continue to support you, Mr, President, and the men and women who defend this country every day, so unselfishly,” Hagel said.
Hagel will stay on the job until his successor is confirmed. There was no word on who that might be.