Fireworks erupted during a Tuesday hearing over America's Ukraine response before the House Armed Services Committee, where US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sought to defend the Biden administration's response.
Things were fairly low-key until it was Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz's turn to question Austin. Gaetz went through a litany of Pentagon failures and "so many blown calls" - including inaccurately assessing Russian military capability. Austin shot back: "Has it occurred to you that Russia has not overrun Ukraine because of what we’ve done? And our allies have done? Have you ever even thought about that?" Watch the fiery exchange unfold:
Heated exchange between @RepMattGaetz and @SecDef Austin.— CSPAN (@cspan) April 5, 2022
Secretary Austin: "This is the most capable, the most capable combat critical force in the world...the fact that you are embarrassed by your country--"
Rep. Matt Gaetz: "No. I am embarrassed by your leadership!" pic.twitter.com/U3H1S99GTv
"You guys told us that Russia couldn't lose, you told us that the Taliban couldn't immediately win. So I guess I'm wondering: what in the $773 billion that you're requesting today is gonna help you make assessments that are accurate in the face of so many blown calls," Gaetz said.
They then clashed over hypersonics and the US "being behind" and with China gaining a major edge. At that point to two spoke over each other.
Austin argued back that robust US action in supporting its Ukrainian ally has actually thwarted Moscow's aim at a swift victory. He also charged that Gaetz is "embarrassed" by his country, to which the Republican rep said back: "No. I am embarrassed by your leadership!"
"I am not embarrassed by my country. I wish we were not losing to China," as the two tangled and spoke loudly over each other.
That's when Gaetz recalled: "You guys said that Russia would overrun Ukraine in 36 days..." He added: "You totally blew those calls."
Elsewhere in his testimony, Austin hailed that the US had provided Ukraine with one billion dollars in aid ahead of the Russian invasion...
.@SecDef: Even before Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion, we provided Ukraine with $1 billion worth of weapons and gear through presidential drawdown authority. Now, we are delivering on another $1 billion pledged by @POTUS Biden. pic.twitter.com/2IKJDQG8if— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) April 5, 2022
The Pentagon chief further said an additional billion dollars in "security assistance" is being rushed and on the way.