WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) switched his “no” vote to support for CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next secretary of State, giving President Trump’s pick just enough backers to eke out confirmation.
Paul said he had been planning to vote against Pompeo, prompting an offensive from the White House to change his mind and Trump declaring Paul had never let him down.
“I just finished speaking to President Trump, after speaking to him several times today. I also met with and spoke to Director Pompeo,” Paul said in a statement before today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote. “After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation that Director Pompeo agrees with President Trump.”
“President Trump believes that Iraq was a mistake, that regime change has destabilized the region, and that we must end our involvement with Afghanistan,” the libertarian GOP senator added. “Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the president on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next secretary of State.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Friday that he was against the nominee because Pompeo “failed to show he was going to be an advocate for strong diplomacy as our first line of defense; he failed to be forthcoming about many issues we asked him.”
Some moderate Democrats indicated, though, that they’ll be supporting Pompeo when his nomination comes to the full Senate for a vote, likely later this week.
“After meeting with Mike Pompeo, discussing his foreign policy perspectives, and considering his distinguished time as CIA Director and his career in public service, I will vote to confirm Mike Pompeo to be our next secretary of State. During this sensitive diplomatic time, it’s important our next secretary of State understands the grave threats facing our nation and can offer diplomatic solutions to avoid conflict, as soon as possible,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today. “I believe he will represent our interests well across the world and provide wise counsel to President Trump on our foreign policy.”
“Mike Pompeo will bring a unique perspective to the State Department and is the right person to lead the department to achieve our country’s foreign policy goals,” he added. “I have had a strong working relationship with him in my role on the Senate Intelligence Committee and look forward to working with him as secretary of State in the best interest of West Virginia and the United States.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor today that Pompeo would be a “chief diplomat who enjoys the total confidence of the president, and who’s uniquely qualified to reinvigorate our Foreign Service and represent our interests abroad.”
“It is hard to imagine a better nominee for this mission, at this moment, than Mike Pompeo,” he said. “I look forward to upholding the tradition of this body and voting to confirm him this week.”