The longest-serving member of President Donald Trump’s national security cabinet, Mike Pompeo, is also his toughest defender – a tactic that has helped keep him in power for nearly four years now, even after loyalty sometimes leaving him alone on the battlefield.
Pompeo played that role again Thursday as the Secretary of State danced around a Trump Tweet defense for the election Day move this November because “Universal Mail Voting” threatens to make it the “Most Inaccurate & Deceptive Election in History,” the president claimed.
During his testimony in the Senate, Pompeo announced a “full postal voting program”; presented a “level of risk.”
“I saw this in my state in Kansas,” he continued. “When you change the voting rules near an election, it is a difficult task.”
Pressed later by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Regarding Trump proposing the November 3 election change, Pompeo said he “would not enter into a legal trial over it on the flight this morning” – instead of referring to the Department of Justice and others for “making that legal determination”.
“It has to happen legally,” Pompeo added.
But Kaine paused again: There is no way a president can legally change Election Day because it has been decided by Congress, with a statute from 1845 still in force.
“I do not think it is a difficult question or one that should lead to an equation by someone who is the fourth in line to be president of the United States,” the former Democratic nominee added. that Pompeo was a senior graduate of the Harvard Law School.
Pompeo tried to jump in, but Kaine switched to another topic.
For the secretary and other GOP executives, it was a common defense of the president, seeking to avoid alienating or annoying the boss, while not necessarily supporting his idea.
What stands out is that almost no other Republican did the same on Thursday.
Senior Republicans in the House and Senate both rejected the idea. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Said, “We must move forward,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said: “Never in the history of the country, through wars, “Depression and Civil War, have we never had timely federal elections, and will we find a way to do it again this November 3?”
Pompeo has stitched himself up so tightly with Trump that he rarely breaks up with him even when he personally disagrees on an issue, such as Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria or not retaliate against Iran for dropping a drone. US.
This strategy has kept him 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 like Sen. Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have also dismissed that closeness as a political strategy for Pompeo’s personal aspirations, accusing him of pursuing U.S. foreign policy for the purposes of domestic politics.
While Pompeo was rumored by some to be considering running for the Senate in Kansas, he declined to join the race, with the June 1 submission deadline now. But he has been more open about his presidential ambitions, telling business leaders from the Economic Club last year, “There is nothing I would not consider doing for America.”
But walking on that tightrope has put Pompeo in a tight position several times, instead trying to bully with accusations of hypocrisy or questions about the confusions of policy changes.
He spent weeks tightening the administration’s pressure for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea”, only to face questions about the deal between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un who did not agreed to agree to that purpose; he dismissed them as “offensive and ridiculous and frankly ridiculous”.
A hardliner for Iran, Pompeo consistently listed some changes by the Iranian government before each meeting between Trump and Iranian leaders. But before the UN General Assembly in New York last September, he said there were “no preconditions” for a possible meeting with President Hassan Rouhani – only for Trump to tweet days later he would not meet “” Unconditionally “.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, he backed US contributions to the World Health Organization on March 31 as key to “protecting Americans and keeping us safe,” but just weeks later, he and Trump began to explode WHO as catastrophic and eventually announced that the US would withdraw from the UN agency.
The maneuver resurfaced Thursday in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Trump leads “the toughest administration ever on Russia”, pointing to some policies aimed at putting pressure on the Kremlin. But when asked about Trump’s comments Tuesday that he never raised the issue of Russia by offering gifts to the Taliban to kill American troops, Pompeo jumped again.
“I always leave to the president what he wants to say to other leaders,” he said.
Pompeo dismissed the withdrawal of Trump troops from Germany as “threatening” to Moscow. When he pressed the Kremlin spokesman to greet him earlier that day, he did not respond, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., continued.
Kaine used the same tactic to stop Pompeo from reacting on election day by addressing former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was devalued by Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, before being fired.
After refusing to offer any praise to the veteran ambassador, Pompeo told with Cain about 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, smiling and laughing and calling it nonsense.”
This time, Pompeo took the last word: “I do not think it is foolish for the United States Department of State to understand that every ambassador, every political appointee knows that if the president of the United States finds out that they lack confidence “The President has the right to interrupt them. It’s so easy. He includes me.”