President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon told Congress the U.S. must be ready to confront Russian behavior in areas where the two countries cannot cooperate. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon told Congress on Thursday the United States must be ready to confront Russian behaviour in areas where the two countries cannot cooperate, even as he backed Trump's bid to engage with Moscow. The remarks by retired Marine General James Mattis in written responses to questions from Congress appeared set to endear him to Russia-wary Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is expected to back his nomination. "We engaged with Russia even during the darkest days of the Cold War, and I support the President-elect's desire to engage with Russia now," Mattis wrote. "At the same time, when we identify other areas where we cannot cooperate, we must confront Russia's behaviour, and defend ourselves if Russia chooses to act contrary to our interests." Due to enter the White House in eight days, Trump on Wednesday acknowledged that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and emails of top Democrats during the 2016 presidential election campaign, a conclusion reached by U.S. spy agencies. Mattis cited Russian involvement in hacking and information warfare among the challenges posed by Moscow. Others include treaty violations, using tactics short of open war to destabilise other countries and "alarming messages from Moscow regarding the use of nuclear weapons," he wrote. Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the committee, said he "could not be happier" about Mattis' nomination. He warned sternly against optimism about engaging with Russian President Vladimir Putin.