Senator Barrasso Offers Support of Secretary of State Nominee

Lawmakers to Hear From Pompeo, Mattis in Midst of Syria Crisis

President Donald Trump's nominee to be the secretary of state faced a gaggle of protesters Thursday morning at the beginning of his first confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I've articulated my own personal views on this", Pompeo told the committee.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., asked Pompeo whether he agreed with a number of hawkish statements toward North Korea, Cuba, and Iraq by John Bolton, Trump's new national security adviser.

But then, in the next sentence (!), Pompeo added this: "I'm with the President and bad lot [and] he's never asked me to do anything that I considered remotely improper". "I would prefer achieving the President's foreign policy goals with unrelenting diplomacy".

At the same time, he noted that he would promote a tougher policy against Russian Federation, saying that there were years of "soft policy" towards that nation.

According to separate reports, Pompeo was later among several senior administration officials asked by Trump to contact media on his behalf to defend his image.

"Should I be confirmed as Secretary of State, I will execute diligent and firm diplomacy, working alongside the world's finest diplomatic service, to help our President confront the challenges and seize the opportunities of our time", Pompeo said.

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo leaves a meeting with Sen.

"Senators, if confirmed, I would raise my hand and swear an oath to defend our Constitution for the seventh time in my life - the first time as an 18-year-old West Point cadet", Pompeo vowed in opening remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

'Netanyahu, Trump clash over Syria early withdrawal plan'
The further concern is the threat to other Trump administration goals, such as blunting Iran's influence in the region. Trump's sudden embrace of a pullout was itself a reversal of a strategy for Syria he endorsed just a few months ago.

Pompeo faced resistance before his confirmation as CIA director previous year over past comments on the agency's use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques commonly regarded as torture.

Mr. Pompeo caught Mr. Trump's attention with his broadsides on Hillary Clinton during 2015 congressional hearings about the attacks on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four people, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, dead. It's unclear at this time if Pompeo even has the votes to clear the 21-member panel since Paul, as a member of the committee, is a "no".

Asked whether, for the moment, Iran remains in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran deal's implementation mechanism, Pompeo said: "I've seen no evidence that they are not in compliance today".

Pompeo is preparing to use the hearing to modify his hawkish reputation, and recast his relationship with senators anxious about steps he might take in dealing with a number of consequential choices and crises, including North Korea and Iran.

"We expect Director Pompeo to be able to explain exactly what financial entanglement he had with the Chinese government and why he failed to disclose it", Juan Pachon, the committee's communications director, told MClatchy.

Pompeo has always been a hawk on Russia, but since joining the Trump administration he has taken a nuanced position on Russian interference in the 2016 American elections.

But he followed up this sober analysis by complaining about how China is dependent upon poaching American technology: "If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff, or make sure they can defeat it", he said. Pompeo was nominated for the position of Secretary of State by President Trump after the President fired Rex Tillerson.

"His reputation is not that strong on standing up to the president", Sen.

Pompeo also intends to stress the obligation of the United States to be a leader.

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