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President-elect Trump’s affinity for Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, is likely to be a top issue raised by senators during the confirmation hearing this month for retired Gen. James Mattis, who has been tapped to serve as the next defense secretary.

But experts cautioned that lawmakers, many of whom have never served in uniform, must be politically sensitive to take on Trump’s proposals without criticizing a former four-star general who is broadly loved in the military.

“You can’t be dismissive of Mattis outright, even if you want to be dismissive of Trump,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.

Mattis’ confirmation, and the accompanying waiver allowing him to serve, are likely to be on the top of the 115th Congress’ to-do list, since Trump has expressed a desire to have the retired general at the Pentagon shortly after Inauguration Day Jan. 20.

One key issue on which Mattis will face questions is Trump’s dismissal of Russia, even as current military leaders rank it as one of the top two threats facing America. Eaglen said Trump has an inverted view from the current staff in the Pentagon and many on Capitol Hill. While the Pentagon currently ranks threats facing the U.S. with China and Russia at the top and terrorism near the bottom, Trump has appeared to not take seriously threats from either Russia or China, Eaglen said.

“They’re going to want to really pin Mattis down in the hopes of boxing in Mr. Trump or educating him on their strong beliefs and give him an expectation of what they hope to see in the [fiscal 2018] budget,” she said.

Tom Spoehr, an expert with the Heritage Foundation, also said Mattis’ stance on Russia will be the “number one question” he’ll have to field at the hearing, but said he would expect the former general to face a range of questions including U.S. military alliances such as NATO, the Iran nuclear deal and plans for defeating the Islamic State.

“Senators will be looking for reassurances and confirmation from Gen. Mattis about some of these key topics, especially Russia and alliances,” Spoehr said.

Trump also has made it clear he is planning to take on cost overruns in the Pentagon’s acquisition system and already has called out two programs for out-of-control costs: Boeing’s Air Force One and Lockheed Martin’s F-35. Leaders from both companies have given him their personal promises to control costs.

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Eaglen said to look for lawmakers to “exert their own authority up front” in those programs, since Congress has the last word on spending. Senators are also likely to ask questions about the littoral combat ship, since the number the country is buying has been at the center of a public spat between the Defense Department and Navy leadership, and nuclear modernization, especially Trump’s previous comments that seemed to suggest he wasn’t familiar with the nuclear triad.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that confirmation hearings are often more “political theater” and less about the qualifications of the nominee and said Democrats likely will force Mattis to answer for Trump’s controversial remarks to try to “put him in an awkward position.”

“If I were advising the Democrats, I would suggest they dig up every extreme quote Trump has made and ask Mattis what do you think about this? And what do you think about this?” he said.

Mattis has had some clear differences with his future boss. Most recently, the former Marine seemed to have talked Trump out of bringing back torture techniques such as waterboarding by telling the president-elect that they simply don’t work.

Eaglen said she expected Mattis to handle contradictions between the two men by acknowledging any disagreements and promising to continue providing his advice to the president.

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“I think he’s going to go with the honesty-is-the-best-policy angle,” Eaglen said. “This is what Trump said, this is what I said, this is what I told him. He seems to be open to hearing my arguments and I’ll keep making them.”

Mattis’ selection as Trump’s defense secretary has overwhelmingly received praise on Capitol Hill. The only detractors, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have been supportive of Mattis, but not supportive of the nomination because Mattis has not been out of uniform long enough to serve as a civilian under current law, though Congress is taking steps to pass a waiver of that law.

Several experts said they expected senators to question Mattis about how he plans to differentiate between his military background and his new role as a civilian. But Ben Friedman, a defense research fellow at the Cato Institute, said he expected civilian control of the military to be “less of a topic than one might expect” and all said they expect Mattis to face a cordial, easy confirmation process.

While the confirmation hearing is for Mattis, Eaglen said she expected lawmakers to subtly put their opinion on the record with regard to other nominees as well. Senators are likely to ask questions about the overseas contingency operations account, a source of funding not affected by Budget Control Act caps that has been criticized as a slush fund, including by Trump’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

“You’re going to see [Senate Armed Services Committee] Republicans very wary of the Mulvaney pick, but they won’t say that. They’ll talk about OCO to get at their nervousness,” she said.

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