Sen. Rand Paul: Pompeo has reassured me

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) explains why he will support the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, a last minute reversal that avoids a historic rebuke of the President's pick to be the country's top diplomat.

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 1:42 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 1:44 PM

Donald Trump won.

That's the only possible analysis of the past 24 hours when it comes to the confirmation of Mike Pompeo for secretary of state.

On Monday morning, the storyline went like this: Pompeo, the current CIA director, was very likely to be unfavorably reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, joining a united front of Democrats to vote against him. In the full Senate, just one Democrat -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp -- had said she would vote for Pompeo, raising questions of whether he could weather another GOP defection.

By Monday night, Paul had flip-flopped to vote for Pompeo in committee and two more Democrats -- Indiana's Joe Donnelly and West Virginia's Joe Manchin -- had pledged to back his nomination on the Senate floor, making it a virtual certainty that the one-time Kansas congressman would be the next top US diplomat.

That's quite a turnaround! And, it's a rare recent tale of success for Trump when it comes to his Cabinet, which, from EPA's Scott Pruitt to Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson, has been mired in controversy after controversy.

Trump deserves considerable credit for making this all happen.

First, after months of rumors, he jettisoned Rex Tillerson as secretary of state last month. No matter whose side you take in that debate, it was clear to everyone involved that the relationship between the two men has disintegrated badly. Because of that very public split, Tillerson wasn't seen as having Trump's confidence -- making it very, very difficult for Tillerson to do his job.

Then Trump chose Pompeo, a close ally who had already been confirmed by the Senate as CIA director last year.

And, rather than simply attack Paul when the Kentucky Republican voiced his concerns about the hawkishness of Pompeo on national security and foreign policy matters, Trump praised Paul publicly and worked to convince him privately.

"I will say this about Rand Paul: He's never let me down," Trump said last week at Mar-a-Lago. "Rand Paul is a very special guy as far as I'm concerned. He's never let me down."

Trump also pushed Paul to meet with Pompeo to talk through his concerns. While that meeting didn't seem to change things, Trump kept at it with Paul -- understanding, rightly, that an unfavorable report out of the Foreign Relations committee could endanger Pompeo's chances at confirmation by the full Senate.

And, then, on the verge of what looked like a mini-disaster in committee, Paul flipped.

"I just finished speaking to @realDonaldTrump, after speaking to him several times today," he tweeted. "I also met with and spoke to Director Pompeo. After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump's belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation the Director Pompeo agrees with @realDonaldTrump."

With that -- and the announcements earlier Tuesday by Manchin and Donnelly -- the storyline pivoted. It went from "Potential disaster looms for Pompeo, Trump" to "Pompeo confirmation appears to be on a glide path."

By the end of the week, Pompeo will almost certainly be confirmed as secretary of state. Based on how this week began, that's a massive win for Trump. And a badly needed one.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 96305

Reported Deaths: 3596
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17619517
Cuyahoga13011487
Hamilton9297249
Lucas5114320
Montgomery411485
Summit3399218
Marion290145
Butler277861
Mahoning2470253
Pickaway237442
Stark1756137
Warren168935
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Wood97358
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Medina86935
Miami78837
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Allen68242
Greene64411
Belmont59126
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Ross4314
Huron3835
Ottawa36525
Sandusky35416
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Darke34827
Hancock3443
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Auglaize2335
Union2281
Jefferson2122
Muskingum2071
Scioto2041
Putnam19817
Washington19822
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Preble1752
Crawford1685
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Morrow1632
Hardin15812
Clinton1546
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Defiance1334
Williams1293
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