Dems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting

Senate Democrats are providing tepid praise to CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Pompeo: US ready to 'immediately' resume talks with North Korea READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV MORE’s once-secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying they are happy the Trump administration is preparing for the upcoming historic summit between Kim and President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE.

But several also offered criticism at the same time, questioning the CIA's role instead of the State Department. Pompeo has been nominated as secretary of State, but has yet to be confirmed.

“I don’t know why the CIA is doing the pre-work for a diplomatic meeting,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches Situation in Yemen should lead us to return to a constitutional foreign policy Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I don’t hate the idea that there’s some preparation being done for a potential summit," he added. "I was really worried that there’d be no preparatory meetings, and both leaders would be operating from the seat of their pants, and that would be disastrous. So, yeah, it’s a good thing, not a bad thing that both sides are talking.”

On Tuesday night, news outlets began reporting that Pompeo secretly traveled to Pyongyang over Easter weekend and met with Kim in advance of a summit Trump has agreed to hold with Kim.

On Wednesday, Trump confirmed the meeting took place, saying it went “very smoothly.”

“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week,” Trump tweeted. “Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”

Later on Wednesday, Trump offered praise for Pompeo's work in brief remarks from Florida, and predicted he would be a great secretary of State.

The meeting between Pompeo and Kim is the highest-level known U.S.-North Korea talks since then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, in 2000.

If Trump follows through with meeting Kim, it will be the first time sitting leaders of the two countries have held talks.

When the meeting was first announced in March, several Democrats and some Republicans expressed concern that the meeting was agreed to without lower level talks first to lay the groundwork.

But on Wednesday, Democrats, who have largely been opposed to Pompeo’s secretary of State nomination, were pleased that talks are taking place in advance.

“I think it’s positive that they are beginning to do some of the underlying work before negotiations begin,” said Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-N.H.), who added that it won’t change her “no” vote for Pompeo as secretary of State.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KainePoll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser Corey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report MORE (D-Va.), another key committee member voting against Pompeo, said the meeting was “good news,” but that it wouldn’t change his vote.

Committee member Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment More Dems come out in public opposition to Kavanaugh MORE (D-Md.) said he’s “not surprised” at the meeting.

“I would hope that there is being preparations done for a meeting between the president and Kim Jong Un,” he said.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden says foreign hackers targeted personal accounts of senators, staffers Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless MORE (D-Ore.) said the meeting is indicative of the trust Trump places in Pompeo.

“I would always rather have more preparation with this administration rather than less because so often they just show up and kind of wing it,” Wyden said. “I still remain extraordinarily troubled about how hard it is to get straight answer out of Mr. Pompeo on key matters.”

The harshest criticism of the meeting appears to have come from Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap MORE (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez cited the fact that Pompeo did not disclose the meeting as one of the reasons he will vote against him as secretary of State.

“I can tell you, even in his private conversations with me, he didn’t tell me about his visit to North Korea,” Menendez said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Now I don’t expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open, but I do expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks with the committee leadership, and when he was asked specific questions about North Korea, to share some insights about such a visit.”

But committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips Corker GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Grassley willing to send staff to California to speak with Kavanaugh accuser Corker blasts Trump's 'ready, fire, aim' trade policy MORE (R-Tenn.) said he thinks Pompeo only needed to disclose the meeting to the committee if a member specifically asked about it and that he does not think that happened.

“We have intelligence officials that are meeting people all over the world all the time, and most of us don’t know that’s occurring,” Corker said.

Corker added he would hope every senator is supportive of the administration preparing for the summit.

“I hope there will be a number of professionals who will be meeting with leaders in North Korea prior to the meeting, people from Energy, Defense and other places,” Corker said.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Steady Kavanaugh proves to be a tough target for Democrats MORE (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the meeting shows Pompeo is “getting a running start” on the secretary of State job.

“I think it’s great,” Inhofe said. “He could be involved in the greatest breakthrough in modern history, and so I think he’s capable of doing that, and I’m glad he’s doing that.”