WASHINGTON—Donald Trump’s picks for top national security posts diverged from the president-elect’s positions on key issues during confirmation hearings a week before the inauguration, increasing uncertainty about what policies the incoming administration would pursue, even on matters almost entirely under White House control.

Retired Gen. James Mattis, the secretary of defense nominee; Rex Tillerson, named to be secretary of state; and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), the Central Intelligence Agency director nominee, all made statements at Senate hearings this week that differed from views Mr. Trump has expressed, staking out positions that might help them win approval from the Senate but could set them on a collision course with the incoming White House over critical issues, ranging from Russia to Iran.

The break with Mr. Trump was on display perhaps most prominently this week during the three-hour confirmation hearing Thursday for Gen. Mattis. The defense secretary nominee classified Russia as the principal threat to the U.S. and expressed little hope that Washington would develop a substantive partnership with Moscow, as Mr. Trump has suggested.

As opposed to praising Vladimir Putin, Gen. Mattis accused the Russian president of “trying to break the North Atlantic alliance.”

 

 

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Featured image courtesy of Bloomberg News.