What do we know about CIA Director Mike Pompeo? He’s the one U.S. intelligence agency head who has largely been willing to go along with Donald Trump’s false claim that Russia didn’t meaningfully interfere in the 2016 election. He recently met with sanctioned Russian intel officials. He’s reportedly not trusted by good people within his own agency. So naturally he’s Donald Trump’s new nominee for Secretary of State. Because Trump either doesn’t consider or doesn’t understand these things, this nomination is about to backfire on him spectacularly.
Although Mike Pompeo already went through Senate confirmation hearings early last year to become CIA Director, he’ll have to go through them again to become Secretary of State. Quite a bit has changed since that time. Trump-Russia has gone from a burgeoning scandal to a massive criminal investigation. Pompeo himself is widely viewed as a suspicious key figure in the Trump-Russia coverup, if not necessarily in the original scandal.
The Republicans have 51 votes, and if they unanimously vote for Pompeo, he’ll be approved. But even if the Democrats can’t stop Pompeo’s confirmation, they can use their allotted time during the hearings to hit Pompeo with biting Trump-Russia questions on live national television. As a reminder of how high the stakes can be, even though Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Trump’s Attorney General, he had to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia scandal because he was caught lying about the scandal during his confirmation hearings. That recusal helped pave the way for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
If Donald Trump’s goal with his recent moves is to prevent the Trump-Russia scandal from getting even worse for him, then Mike Pompeo is the wrong nominee at the wrong time. He’s choosing Pompeo because he wants someone personally loyal as his Secretary of State. But he’s not considering that confirmation hearings will scandalize and cripple Pompeo out of the gate, and make the scandal an even bigger specter for Trump himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report