Senate

Schumer says he isn’t actively urging Dems to oppose Pompeo, Haspel

Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he is not currently urging his caucus to oppose Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be secretary of State or Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA.

“At this point, I am not,” Schumer told reporters on Tuesday, while stressing both nominees will face “unanswered” and “outstanding” questions.

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Trump’s early morning tweet that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson caught most of Washington by surprise. 

Trump also announced that Pompeo, currently the director of the CIA, would take over Tillerson’s job, while Haspel, the CIA deputy director, would succeed Pompeo.

Pompeo was confirmed for his current post in a 66-32 vote last year. Fourteen Democrats, including Schumer, and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), supported him for the post.

But Democrats stressed on Tuesday that their previous support for Pompeo did not automatically mean they would support him to be secretary of State.

Schumer noted he wants to know if the former House member will be tougher on Russia if he’s confirmed to be the country’s top diplomat.

“I’m not taking a position until we hear from him, but there are lots of outstanding questions,” he said.

King, who supported Pompeo last year, separately told reporters that “they are two different jobs” and he’ll reserve judgment. Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who supported Pompeo for his CIA post, said “there are a number of us who voted for him last time who are actively reconsidering.”

Trump’s nominees only need simple majority support to be confirmed, meaning they won’t need help from Democrats if the Senate GOP caucus can remain united.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only GOP senator to oppose Pompeo for CIA director. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is fighting brain cancer and has been absent since late last year, potentially adding an extra hurdle for Republicans.

Schumer also knocked Trump for how he fired Tillerson, while also noting that he had been “very disappointed” by the secretary of State and that the country’s foreign policy is in “shambles.”

“What President Trump did and the way he did it once again indicates the chaos in this administration. The inability to have a center. The inability to have a consistent policy, and it’s creating huge problems in the world and here in America,” he said.

He added that he has “never seen a presidential administration so basically disorganized, at war with one another, creating such huge problems for the country.”

Tags Angus King Brian Schatz Charles Schumer Donald Trump John McCain Mike Pompeo Rand Paul Rex Tillerson
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