Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee are grilling CIA Director Mike Pompeo today as he begins his confirmation hearing for US secretary of state.
Pompeo faces an uphill battle in many respects. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, and most Democratic senators say they won’t support his confirmation. With Sen. John McCain away from Washington battling brain cancer, at least one Democrat will be needed to join Republicans for Pompeo to be approved.
Pompeo is known as a close ally of the president. Trump has requested in-person intelligence briefings from him several times a week during his time as CIA director and Pompeo often accompanies Trump to other meetings during the day after the briefings.
Democrats will want to know if Pompeo can move beyond partisan politics to become the nation’s top diplomat.
They’ve attacked him for what they call his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Pompeo is known for his Christian beliefs and willingness to speak publicly against abortion.
Pompeo will seek to distinguish himself from predecessor Rex Tillerson by convincing senators that he will strengthen the State Department and reassert its relevance as a key player in the country’s national security policies.
He will go after Russia, telling senators that the years of a softer US policy towards the country are over and calling Russia a “danger to our country” all while asserting that diplomacy with Moscow “must continue.”
Pompeo will reportedly emphasize the president’s ability to negotiate ahead of a planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. His prepared statement includes this line: “President Trump isn’t one to play games at the negotiating table and I won’t be either.”
He will veer slightly from the president when he emphasizes America’s “duty to lead” in contrast to Trump’s vows to put “America first.”
Pompeo was confirmed for his current CIA job with a 66-32 vote.