Pompeo to call Russia ‘a danger to our country’ in testimony: report

Pompeo to call Russia ‘a danger to our country’ in testimony: report
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE plans to call Russia "a danger to our country" on Thursday in his Senate hearing for confirmation as secretary of State, according to a copy of his opening remarks obtained by The Associated Press.

Pompeo will tell senators that the days of soft policy by the U.S. toward Russia are "now over," according to the report. The testimony comes amid escalating tension between the U.S. and Russia over an alleged chemical attack in Syria for which President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE blamed Russian support. 

Pompeo, who Trump nominated last month after firing former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE, seeks to take over at the State Department after leading the CIA during the first year of Trump's presidency.

The intelligence chief will also tell the Senate panel he will end the "demoralizing" vacancies of top diplomats after a string of departures over the past year, according to excerpts released by the White House. Pompeo reportedly heard advice on replenishing top diplomatic staff from former secretaries of State he reached out to prior to the hearing, including Hillary Clinton.

“In a recent series of Department briefings with team members at State, they all, to a person, expressed a hope to be empowered in their roles, and to have a clear understanding of the President’s mission. That will be my first priority," he plans to say. "They also shared how demoralizing it is to have so many vacancies and, frankly, not to feel relevant. I’ll do my part to end the vacancies, but I’ll need your help."

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Pompeo's hearing comes one week after the administration approved new sanctions on seven influential Russian oligarchs with ties to the government, under a law passed by Congress to punish Russian  interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Both the U.S. and Russia have also expelled diplomats from each other's countries in recent weeks over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil, which has been blamed on Russia, a claim the Russian government disputes as a Western plot to defame their country. 

Pompeo will also say that diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and Russia "must continue" despite being "challenging," according to the report.

Updated at 9:11 p.m.