Booker grills Pompeo on views about Muslims, homosexuality

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday grilled CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Pompeo slams 'unconscionable' release of 'American Taliban' 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 TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE nominated Pompeo to helm the State Department last month after abruptly ousting Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonEx-Trump campaign adviser on Tillerson remarks: Trump will 'pick a fight with anybody' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump Trump fires back at 'dumb as a rock' Tillerson on Putin MORE. Pompeo faced an at times contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.