After Close Vote, Panel Sends Pompeo Nomination to Senate - NBC Bay Area
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After Close Vote, Panel Sends Pompeo Nomination to Senate

Pompeo's bid to become the nation's top diplomat was in the hands of a few senators, but received a boost Monday when two Democrats announced their support

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pompeo Nomination Face Wall of Opposition From Democrats

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo's nomination for secretary of state is seeing a wall of opposition from Democratic senators as Republican lawmakers warn their colleagues not to reject Trump's pick. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, also declined to support Pompeo's nomination. (Published Friday, April 20, 2018)

    What to Know

    • With opposition from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Democrats, Mike Pompeo won't get a key Senate recommendation for secretary of state

    • The CIA director's nomination can still be considered by the full Senate, but the vote will be tight

    • The last presidential appointee not to be approved by a Senate committee was John Bolton, picked for U.N. ambassador by George W. Bush

    Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, avoided a rare rebuke Monday as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly recommended him, but the vote served as a warning shot to the White House as nominees to lead the CIA and Veterans Affairs are hitting stiff resistance.

    Pompeo, who's now CIA director, received the panel's approval only after Trump's last-minute overtures to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Pompeo's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where votes are tallying in his favor and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he looks forward to voting to confirm him later this week.

    Trump has been quick to fire his top cabinet secretaries, but Senate Democrats are not so fast to confirm replacements. A grilling is expected Wednesday of Ronny Jackson, the White House physician nominated to head the VA, and Pompeo's potential replacement at the CIA, Gina Haspel, is also facing scrutiny.

    It's also a reminder of how tough it could be to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump has publicly mused about firing Rosenstein, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Trump: CIA Chief Secretly Met With Kim Jong Un

    [NATL] Trump: CIA Chief Secretly Met With Kim Jong Un

    CIA Chief and Secretary of State candidate Mike Pompeo recently met with Kim Jong Un in a secret trip to North Korea, according to confirmation tweeted by President Donald Trump. The United States and North Korea are readying to meet in a possible summit to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

    (Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

    "Hard to believe," Trump tweeted Monday about what he called "obstruction." ''The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people... They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!"

    Republicans hold just a slim Senate majority, 50-49, with the prolonged absence of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    Pompeo's bid to become the nation's top diplomat was in the hands of a few senators, but received a boost Monday when two Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, announced their support.

    Pressure is mounting on senators from all sides. White House allies are unloading ad campaigns against Democrats from Trump-won states, but progressive groups are pounding senators' offices in opposition. As soon as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced her support for Pompeo, one group called on her to switch.

    Ahead of the Foreign Relations Committee's vote, chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said of the full Senate, "It does appear Mike Pompeo has the votes to be secretary of state."

    Supporters point to Pompeo's resume as a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate who has the president's confidence, particularly on North Korea. Opponents are focusing on his hawkish foreign policy views and negative comments about gay marriage and Muslims.

    Booker Questions Pompeo on Gay Marriage Stance

    [NATL] Booker Questions Pompeo on Gay Marriage Stance

    Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., criticized CIA Director Mike Pompeo's public stance against gay marriage during Pompeo's confirmation hearing for Secretary of State.

    (Published Monday, April 16, 2018)

    Paul's earlier objections to Pompeo, along with overwhelming opposition from Democrats, had set the secretary of state nominee on track to be the first since 1925, when the committee started keeping records, not to receive a favorable recommendation.

    But Trump and Paul talked repeatedly, including a chat just moments before the vote.

    "I have changed my mind," Paul said, explaining he received reassurances that Pompeo agrees with the president that the Iraq war was a "mistake" and that it is time for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan. Paul's office said he "got a win" — the promise that Pompeo sides with Trump on those issues — out of the situation, but declined to provide details.

    "I want Trump to be Trump," Paul said.

    Asked about Paul's change of heart, Trump said, "He's a good man."

    Senators are anxious to have Pompeo in place before international meetings scheduled for later this week and ahead of North Korea talks.

    Trump Responds to Putin Summit Criticism

    [NATL] Trump Responds to Putin Summit Criticism

    President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he misspoke during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Trump said he does "accept" the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Trump also said he needed to clarify that he didn't see a reason why the meddling "wouldn't be Russia." Trump had said the opposite a day earlier, prompting bipartisan backlash.

    (Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018)

    Republicans blamed partisan politics for opposition, saying Pompeo is just as qualified as past secretaries of state nominees Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, both of whom received overwhelming support.

    "A majority of Democrats continue their pointless obstruction to score cheap political points with their base as a willful attempt to undermine American diplomacy," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    But Democrats resisted easy confirmation of the nation's top diplomat, and support peeled.

    Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who had been among more than a dozen Democrats who supported Pompeo for CIA director, announced her no vote Monday.

    "I am concerned that Mr. Pompeo has not demonstrated an understanding that the Secretary of State has an obligation to the American people to stand up for our core values," she said.

    Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who was among the last Democrats on the foreign relations panel to announce his no vote, said he is concerned that Pompeo "will embolden, rather than moderate or restrain" Trump's "most belligerent and dangerous instincts."

    Obama Delivers Rebuke on Trump Policies at Mandela Celebration

    [NATL] Obama Delivers Rebuke on Trump Policies at Mandela Celebration

    Former President Barack Obama condemned the current state of American politics while not mentioning President Donald Trump by name during a speech to honor the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

    (Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018)

    In a late setback Monday, the panel was short one Republican vote needed for a favorable recommendation because Sen. Johnny Isakson was delivering a eulogy in his home state of Georgia. Rather than postpone voting until his return very late Monday, Coons agreed to allowed his vote to be recorded as "present" so the committee could finish its work.