The longest-serving member of President Donald Trump’s national security cabinet, Mike Pompeo, is also his strongest defender – a tactic that has helped keep him in power for nearly four years. now, even as that loyalty sometimes leaves him alone on a battlefield.
Pompeo played that role again on Thursday as the Secretary of State danced around defending Trump’s tweet about the election day march in November because “Universal Mail -In Voting “threatens to make it” the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history, ”the President argued.
During Senate testimony, Pompeo warned that a “full email voting program” presented a “level of risk.”;
“I saw this in my home state of Kansas,” he continued. “When you change the voting rules to approach the election, it’s a difficult task.”
Pressed later by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., On Trump proposing to change the election from Nov. 3, Pompeo said he “will not enter a legal judgment on that flight this morning” – instead does not defer to a Department of Justice and others to “make that legal determination.”
“This has to happen legally,” Pompeo added.
But Kaine fired back: There is no way for a president to change Election Day legally because it is set by Congress, with a statute from 1845 still in place.
“I don’t think it’s a tough issue or one that should lead to an equivocation by someone who is fourth in line of succession to be president of the United States,” added the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, who pointed out that Pompeo was the best graduate of Harvard Law School.
Pompey tried to jump, but Kaine went on to another subject.
For the secretary and other GOP leaders, it was a common defense of the president, who manages to avoid alienation or distract the boss while not necessarily endorsing his idea.
What hurts is that almost no other Republican did the same thing on Thursday.
The top Republicans in the House and Senate both rejected the idea. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Said, “We have to move forward,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said, “Never in the country’s history, through wars, depressions and Civil War. War, we never had a federally scheduled election in time, and we’ll find a way to do it again this November 3rd. ”
Pompeo has been so strict with Trump, rarely if he ever breaks up with him even when he personally disagrees on an issue, such as Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria or not retaliate against Iran for stopping an American drone.
That strategy kept him around much longer than former colleagues like Defense Secretaries James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan, National Security Advisers HR McMaster and John Bolton, and of course, his predecessor, Rex Tillerson.
But critics such as Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have also touted that proximity as a political strategy for Pompey’s personal aspirations, accusing him of passing the foreign policy of Pompey. the United States for domestic political purposes.
While Pompeo was rumored by some to be considering a run for the Senate in Kansas, he failed to join the race, with the June 1 filing deadline now passed. But he was more open about his presidential ambitions, telling business leaders from the Economic Club last year, “There’s nothing I don’t consider doing for America.”
But walking with that tight rope has put Pompeo in a tight position many times, instead of trying to suppress it through accusations of hypocrisy or questions about confusing changes in politics.
It took weeks of the administration’s push for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea,” to face only questions about the agreement of Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un which did not reach its agreement. he dismissed them as “insulting and ridiculous and frankly ridiculous.”
The most hardliner on Iran, Pompeo has repeatedly listed several changes by the Iranian government before every meeting between Trump and Iranian leaders. But ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York last September, he said “there were no preconditions” about a possible meeting with President Hassan Rouhani – only to Trump tweet days later that he does not meet. -No Conditions. ”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, he deposited U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization on March 31 as the key to “protecting Americans and keeping them safe,” but a few weeks later, he and Trump began blaming WHO as disastrous and eventually announced that the United States would withdraw from the UN agency.
That maneuver was again exposed for Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Trump leads “the toughest administration ever done on Russia,” and pointed to several policies designed to put pressure on the Kremlin. But when asked about Trump’s comments Tuesday that he never raised the issue of Russia offering sums to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, Pompeo danced again.
“I always leave it to the president what he wants to say to other leaders,” he said.
Pompeo hailed the withdrawal of Trump’s troops from Germany as a “threat” to Moscow. When pressed on the Kremlin speaker who welcomed him earlier that day, he did not respond, and Senate Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., passed.
Kaine used the same tactic to stop Pompeo from responding on Election Day by turning former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, before was fired.
After failing to offer any praise to the veteran ambassador, Pompeo rose up with Kaine during Giuliani’s campaign against her. As the secretary smiled and sometimes laughed, Kaine accused him of treating the matter as “just a big joke. I mean, hey, look at you, smile and laugh and call it silly.”
This time, Pompeo made one last word: “I don’t think it’s silly that the U.S. State Department understands that every ambassador, every political appointee knows that if the president of the The United States finds that they do not trust you, the president has the right to end them. It’s easy. That includes me. “