He said Hagel’s perceived lukewarm commitment to Israel’s security will probably be the nominee’s chief vulnerability.
Inhofe and five other Republican lawmakers opened a new line of inquiry this week, asking Hagel in a letter to answer detailed questions about his ties to several companies that together paid him more than $1 million last year.
M.I.C. Industries, a Reston firm, paid Hagel $120,000 last year. Since 2008, the company has received more than $50 million in Defense Department contracts, according to federal contracting records.
Hagel received $116,000 last year from Chevron, which has billed the Defense Department more than $1.5 billion since 2008.
It is not uncommon for high-profile former lawmakers to land lucrative consulting fees and posts on company boards. Following protocol, Hagel has agreed to divest his stocks in Chevron and the McCarthy Group, a financial firm he ran after leaving the Senate in 2008, and sever ties with other organizations, including Georgetown University, where he has taught since 2009.
Hagel became a star professor at the university’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, where his geopolitics class routinely had a waiting list. Michael Podberezin, 27, who took the class last fall, said students admired Hagel’s informed, nuanced views on current events.
Podberezin, an Israeli citizen who served in his country’s armed forces, said he debated with Hagel on policy issues, including whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear program and the United States’ response to Syria’s civil war.
The student said that he was more hawkish than Hagel on both but that the former senator was never dismissive of his views.
“He is very open to hearing other people’s opinions,” Podberezin said. “But he’s very upfront about what he believes, and he doesn’t sugarcoat it.”
Julie Tate contributed to this report.