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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 MurphyOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan Dems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting MORE (D-Conn.) said Monday he will vote against current CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday Shows Preview: Emmanuel Macron talks ahead of state dinner Hope and skepticism as America readies summit with North Korea Supreme Court to consider Trump’s travel ban 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 PaulPompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes Overnight Defense: House to begin work on defense policy bill | Panel to vote Monday on Pompeo | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump appeals decision blocking suspected combatant's transfer 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 KaineHannity snaps back at 'Crybaby' Todd: 'Only conservatives have to disclose relationships?' Chuck Todd lashes out at Fox, defends wife in radio interview Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (Va.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination Menendez rips characterization of Pompeo as 'nation's top diplomat' 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 TillersonBy sending spy to North Korea, America raises the stakes high Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State 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 McConnellPompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Trump has not invited Democrats, media to state dinner: report 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.