Mike Pompeo, the longest-serving member of President Donald Trump’s national security cabinet, is also his fiercest defender, a tactic that has helped keep him in power for nearly four years, even if that allegiance sometimes leaves him alone on the battlefield.
Pompeo played the role again on Thursday when the Secretary of State danced around defending Trump’s tweet to postpone Election Day this November, as the “General Mail Vote” threatens to make it “the FASTEST and CORRECT election in history,” the president said.
During his Senate testimony, Pompeo warned that the “full mail voting program” posed a “level of risk.”;
“I saw it in my home state of Kansas,” he continued. “When you change the voting rules as you approach the election, it’s a difficult task.”
Later pressured by Sen. Tim Kane, Washington, that Trump had proposed changing the election from Nov. 3, Pompeo said he was “not going to make a legal decision in the woods today,” but instead postponing the Department of Justice and others to “accept such is the legal definition “.
“It must happen legally,” Pompeo added.
But Kane refused: there was no way for the president to legitimately change election day, as it was established by Congress, with the current 1845 statute in force.
“I don’t think it’s such a difficult issue or an issue that should challenge those who are fourth in a row to be president of the United States,” the former Democratic vice presidential candidate added, noting that Pompeo was a senior graduate of Harvard Law School.
Pompeo tried to jump in, but Cain moved on to another topic.
For the secretary and other GOP leaders, this was a general defense of the president, aimed at avoiding the alienation or frustration of the chief, without necessarily endorsing his idea.
What is striking is that almost no other Republican did the same on Thursday.
Top Republicans in the House and Senate rejected both ideas. Chamber of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Calif., Said, “We must move forward,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., said, “Never in the country’s history, because of war, depression and civil war, has it we didn’t have a timely federal election, and we’ll find a way to do it again this November. ”
Pompeo is so closely attached to Trump, rarely if he ever broke up with him, even when he personally disagrees with a problem such as Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria or not avenge Iran for dropping a US drone .
This strategy held him far longer than former colleagues such as defense secretaries James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan, national security advisers McMaster and John Bolton, and of course his predecessor, Rex Tillerson.
But critics such as Senator Bob Menendez, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also see the proximity as a political strategy for Pompeo’s personal aspirations, accusing him of backing US foreign policy for domestic purposes.
While Pompeo was rumored to be considering running for the Senate in Kansas, he refused to join the race, and now the June 1 application deadline has passed. But he was more open about his presidential ambitions, telling the Economic Club’s executives last year, “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for America.”
But walking on that rope has repeatedly put Pompeo in a tight position, instead trying to face accusations of hypocrisy or questions about confusing policy changes.
He spent weeks supporting the administration’s desire for a “complete, proven, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea,” only to face questions about an agreement between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that did not meet that goal; he dismissed them as “offensive and ridiculous and downright ridiculous.”
Iran’s tough lines Pompeo has repeatedly listed several changes from the Iranian government before any Trump meeting with Iranian leaders. But on the eve of the UN General Assembly in New York in September last September, he said that “there are no preconditions” for a possible meeting with President Hassan Rouhani – just for Trump to twitter days later, he will not fulfill “Unconditional” .
Against the backdrop of the March 31 coronavirus pandemic, he declared U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization as key to “protecting Americans and keeping us safe,” but only a few weeks later he and Trump began the WHO blast as devastating and eventually announced that The United States will leave the UN agency.
The maneuver was again shown on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Trump was heading “the toughest administration ever in Russia,” pointing to several politicians who aimed to put pressure on the Kremlin. But when asked about Trump’s comments on Tuesday that he never raised the issue of Russia offering the Taliban generosity to kill American troops, Pompeo danced again.
“I always leave to the president what he wants to say to other leaders,” he said.
Pompeo considered Trump’s withdrawal from Germany “threatening” for Moscow. When he was pressured by a Kremlin spokesman who greeted him earlier that day, he did not respond, and Senator Zhanna Shahin, Ph.D., went on.
Kane used the same tactic to prevent Pompeo from retaliating on election day by addressing former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovich, who was humiliated by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani before he was released.
Refusing to offer any praise to the veteran ambassador, Pompeo quarreled with Cain over Giuliani’s campaign against her. When the secretary smiled and sometimes smiled, Cain accused him of treating the matter as “just a big joke. I mean, hey, look at you, smiling and laughing and calling it stupid.”
This time, Pompeo got the last word: “I don’t think it’s foolish for the US State Department to understand that every ambassador, every political appointee knows that if the US president finds that they lack confidence in you, the president has the right to cancel them. It’s that simple. “It includes me.”