Murphy announces opposition to Pompeo as secretary of State

Murphy announces opposition to Pompeo as secretary of State
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Full interview: Chris Murphy speaks out on the Trump-Putin meeting and what it means Dem senator: NATO has become 'functionally obsolete' under Trump MORE (D-Conn.) said Monday he will vote against current CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump privately frustrated over lack of progress with North Korea: report Russian diplomat calls on Pompeo to free accused Russian agent Pelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress MORE’s confirmation to become secretary of State.

“I hope my concerns will prove to be unwarranted, but they mean I cannot support Director Pompeo’s nomination,” Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

“I will vote no.”

Murphy’s opposition to Pompeo is unsurprising, but narrows the path for Pompeo's nomination to be favorably reported out of the committee.

With Republican committee member Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia Rand Paul blocks Sanders's Russia resolution, calls it 'crazy hatred' against Trump MORE (Ky.) vowing to vote against Pompeo, the nominee needs at least one Democrat to support him to be favorably reported.

Only two Democrats on the committee voted for Pompeo to become CIA director — Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineGraham would consider US-Russia military coordination in Syria Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race MORE (Va.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenErnst: Intelligence agencies should question Trump’s interpreter, not Congress Overnight Defense: More Trump drama over Russia | Appeals court rules against Trump on transgender ban | Boeing wins Air Force One contract | Military parade to reportedly cost M Top Dem lawmaker pushing committee for closed-door debrief with Trump’s interpreter MORE (N.H.). Murphy did not vote on Pompeo’s CIA confirmation.

Kaine said Sunday he will not vote for Pompeo. Shaheen has expressed concerns about Pompeo, but has not definitively said "no" yet.

In his statement, Murphy said he was impressed with Pompeo’s vows to improve State Department morale that by all accounts took a hit under fired Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Memo: Putin furor sparks new questions on Kelly’s future US steps up its game in Africa, a continent open for business Matt Drudge shares mock ‘Survivor’ cover suggesting more White House officials will leave this summer MORE.

“I was impressed by Director Pompeo’s recognition of the many failures of Rex Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department,” he said. “I choose to believe Mr. Pompeo’s promise that he will work hard to restore morale at State and work to supplement, not atrophy, the diplomatic tools at the Secretary of State’s disposal.”

But, Murphy added, he is concerned about Pompeo’s hawkish record, a characterization Pompeo pushed back on during his confirmation hearing last week.

“With John Bolton as the national security advisor and Director Pompeo as the president’s pick for secretary of State, I am deeply concerned that the president is intentionally surrounding himself with people who will narrow the foreign policy options available to him, prioritizing military solutions over diplomatic solutions,” Murphy said. “This weekend’s illegal and counterproductive strikes against the Syrian government underscore the urgent need for a secretary of State who will stand up for the Constitution and articulate to the president the danger of American military hubris.”

Murphy also pointed to Pompeo’s record on issues such as torture, Muslim rights and LGBT rights. Pompeo supported so-called enhanced interrogation as a congressman, but has since said he would not carry out an order to torture.

In a heated exchange during his confirmation hearing, Pompeo confirmed he continues to oppose gay marriage. Pompeo has also denounced American Muslims for their “silence” after terrorist attacks.

“Finally, at a time when America’s leadership in the world is collapsing, I am concerned that Mr. Pompeo’s personal beliefs on a number of issues, from torture to the rights of Muslim and LGBT Americans, place him outside mainstream American values and will compound the already disastrous moral leadership position of this administration around the globe,” Murphy said.

If Pompeo is not reported favorably out of committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress GOP to White House: End summit mystery Sunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ky.) can still bring the nominee to the floor. But only one Cabinet member has ever been confirmed after not being reportedly favorably out of committee: Henry Wallace as Commerce secretary in 1945.