A Pentagon political strategy memo, revealed Tuesday morning by Politico, discusses plans to defeat a Republican defense bill supported by Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan published a response to the memo on his website:
For this administration, it’s always politics first, even at the Pentagon. This memo details with relish a plan to use a presidential veto of a defense bill as a ‘weapon.’ It’s shameless, and it threatens more than five decades of bipartisan cooperation to enact a national defense bill for our troops. The men and women who defend our country deserve better.
Politico reports the five page memo reads “like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders.”
The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reads at times like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders. It provides an unusually clear window into the tactics the Defense Department’s top officials are using in an increasingly partisan feud over their budget — particularly striking for an agency that seeks to avoid the perception of involvement in election-year politics…
“We should attack” Ryan’s plan “and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,” says the May 13 memo, which calls for applying both “public and private pressure” on lawmakers to ensure the House Republican proposal doesn’t become law. That includes appealing to “media commentators” to help make the department’s case and possibly having Carter lobby congressional Democrats at one of their caucus meetings — a step that it acknowledges “risks the appearance of partisanship.”
Speaker Ryan has been tweeting about the story this morning:
This memo details with relish a plan to use a presidential veto of a defense bill as a “weapon.”
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) September 6, 2016
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, who is mentioned in the memo, also tweeted out a statement denouncing the administration for “playing political games”:
— HASC Republicans (@HASCRepublicans) September 6, 2016
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise called referred to it as “cynical political games”:
It's shameful for the Obama administration to play cynical political games with a defense bill for our troopshttps://t.co/eSlTWivZwG
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 6, 2016
The memo revealed today also sheds some new light on the sparring match between the Benghazi Select Committee and the Pentagon a few months ago. Chairman Trey Gowdy accused the Pentagon of sending a “partisan, factually deficient” letter at the time. His take seems much more plausible in light of the partisan memo revealed today.