Outgoing CIA director Mike Pompeo pushed back on his reputation as a "war hawk" as his confirmation hearing for the secretary of state position began Thursday.
Pompeo faced resistance before his confirmation as CIA director a year ago over past comments on the agency's use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques commonly regarded as torture.
But then, in the next sentence (!), Pompeo added this: "I'm with the President and terrible lot [and] he's never asked me to do anything that I considered remotely improper". "I stand by that", Pompeo said.
He added that "there should be no negative inferences or for that matter positive inferences ... that while these investigations continue I not speak to" any of the conversations he had with Trump.
Pompeo's remarks touch on the biggest foreign policy issues faced by the US, a reflection of how many daunting challenges the administration faces. The U.S. has also found itself at odds with China over trade and North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development. "Militarily, it continues its provocation in the South and East China seas, in cyberspace, and even in outer space", Pompeo said.
Pompeo: "Senator, I'm going to give you the same answer I just gave you previously". "I suppose it's possible we could get to the condition ... where Kim Jong Un was directly threatening and we had information about his activities".
Pompeo has historically had some choice words for Russian Federation, which continues to meddle in US politics even now. Menendez pressed. "Will you stand up to President Trump to say "no" or will you be a "yes" man?"
In the excerpts, Pompeo does not refer to Russia's apparent meddling in the 2016 US election campaign, but the issue is likely to be raised by both Democrats and Republicans, some of whom have accused Trump of failing to be tough on Moscow.
To prepare for his confirmation hearing, Pompeo sought the advice of previous secretaries of state - including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. "Even after May 12th, even after May 12th, there's still much diplomatic work to be done".
"I want to fix this deal", he added. "No Collusion, so they go insane!" the president tweeted Wednesday.
In an interview in February 2015 on a radio program of Frank Gaffney Jr., the president and founder of the far-right leaning Center for Security Policy, Pompeo said "There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways", warning of an "Islamic" conspiracy against America.
But Russia came up repeatedly.
Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo did a live fact checkon Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Pompeo responded that he thought Trump's course of action there has been the right one - that the US has the goal of leaving but can't do so until there is more stability in the country. Pompeo in closed-door meetings rebuffed criticisms he was a warmonger and assured lawmakers he would value diversity at the State Department, congressional staffers tell Foreign Policy. "I intend to make certain that the Department of State would be equally as essential to the president's procedures and also the federal safety of the US".