Booker grills Pompeo on views about Muslims, homosexuality

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHarris adds another to her list of endorsements in South Carolina The Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran, say they'd put US back in nuclear deal MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday grilled CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMore money at the gas pump may be the price of pressuring Iran The Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics Kim to meet with Putin as tensions with US rise 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 TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE nominated Pompeo to helm the State Department last month after abruptly ousting Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonJuan Williams: The high price of working for Trump Graham jokes to Pompeo: You're the 'longest-serving member of the cabinet, right?' Trump moves to install loyalists MORE. Pompeo faced an at times contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.