Sen. Rand Paul has joined Democrats in opposing Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. His possible “no” vote on Pompeo puts the former CIA director’s confirmation in jeopardy.
So why is Paul against the nominated secretary of state?
Paul says it is because the former congressman has defended enhanced interrogation techniques and supported the war in Iraq.
“People complain sometimes about the filibuster; they complain about trying to obstruct. I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” Paul said in March in opposing the candidacy of Pompeo and CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. “I’m going to do everything I can to block them.”
“I’m perplexed by the nomination of people who love the Iraq War so much that they would advocate for a war with Iran next.”
Pompeo has explained that he no longer supports enhanced interrogation techniques. In January, during confirmation proceedings for the CIA director position, Pompeo pledged not to restart the enhanced interrogation program that became infamous during the presidency of George W. Bush.
When asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein whether he would restart the enhanced interrogation program, Pompeo replied:
“Senator, absolutely not,” adding that he voted for reform of the program as a member of Congress. “There’s no doubt in my mind about the limitations in place,” Pompeo added.
As for Paul’s second reason for not supporting Pompeo as secretary of state, it appears he didn’t have that concern about Democrat John Kerry. Kerry supported the war in Iraq too, yet Paul voted to confirm him as President Obama’s secretary of state.
“I voted for John Kerry and I agree with nothing he represents,” Paul said at the time, “but I voted for him because I thought there was a level of at least basic human decency and honesty that exists there … and that the president has the prerogative to determine political appointees.”
Groups like Code Pink, Win Without War, MoveOn, and others are rallying behind Paul and encouraging him to stand by his “NO” pledge.
— CODEPINK (@codepink) April 12, 2018
Constituent of @SenatorIsakson @RandPaul @SenJeffMerkley @senrobportman @SenBooker? They're on the committee holding Pompeo's confirmation hearing TOMORROW. Tweet now & urge them to #StopPompeo & block #TrumpWarCabinet!
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) April 12, 2018
Pompeo's Senate hearing is Thursday, 4/12—tomorrow. So we have to show TODAY that Dems are going to put up a fight. Rand Paul is publicly against. McCain is unlikely to vote. So a united D caucus could defeat him. Block Pompeo & you stop Haspel as well.
When we fight, we win.
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) April 11, 2018
Paul had an opportunity to schedule a private meeting with Pompeo prior to his confirmation hearings (which started Thursday morning) to ask him about his positions on Iraq and enhanced interrogation. However, Sen. Paul reportedly did not hold a face-to-face meeting.
It’s unclear whether Paul can be persuaded to join Republicans. His public statements this week suggest that it will be an uphill battle.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 11, 2018
Just asked Rand Paul if there’s anything that could get him to vote for Pompeo, he shrugged his shoulders and walked into the chamber
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 12, 2018