Booker grills Pompeo on views about Muslims, homosexuality

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care Kamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Pompeo faces pivotal vote MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday grilled CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRand's reversal advances Pompeo Overnight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp MORE during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of State on his views about Muslim Americans and homosexuality.

In a tense exchange, Booker pressed Pompeo on whether he believes that people worshipping “other gods” in America is a negative thing. Pompeo insisted that his record demonstrates he has treated people of “each and every faith with the dignity they deserve.” 

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Referencing his past statements, Booker also asked Pompeo whether he believes that Muslims who fail to speak out against extremist violence are complicit in that violence. Pompeo answered that every individual has a “special obligation” to push back against such attacks. But he also suggested that Muslims are “better positioned” to speak out because of their religious views.

“For certain places, for certain forms of violence, there are some who are better positioned — folks who are more credible, more trustworthy, have a more shared experience — and so when it comes to making sure that we don’t have a terrorist brewing in places where Muslims congregate, there’s a special place — they have an opportunity. It’s more than a duty, it’s an opportunity,” Pompeo said. 

“So you think that Muslims in America who are in positions of leadership have a different category of obligation because of their religion?” Booker asked. 

“It’s not an obligation, it's an opportunity,” Pompeo answered.

Booker used his final moments to press Pompeo on his views about homosexuality and gay marriage. He referenced a speech Pompeo made as a Kansas congressman during which he cited a sermon that said, in part, “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” 

Booker asked Pompeo whether he believes that being gay is a “perversion.”

“When I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry,” Pompeo answered. “I stand by that.”

Booker later repeated his question, to which Pompeo answered, “I’m going to give you the same answer I gave you previously. My respect for every individual regardless of their sexual orientation is the same.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRand's reversal advances Pompeo New allegations could threaten Trump VA pick: reports President Trump puts on the pageantry for Macron’s visit MORE nominated Pompeo to helm the State Department last month after abruptly ousting Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonRand's reversal advances Pompeo Frequent Trump critics NY Daily News, USA Today editorial boards back Pompeo Sarah Sanders: Dems have to decide if they love the US more than they hate Trump MORE. Pompeo faced an at times contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.