Mike Pompeo confirmed as US secy of state after rocky hearing
India had been watching the process closely as the confirmation will determine the timing for the first 2+2 dialogue between India and US’s foreign and defence ministers.Updated: Apr 26, 2018 23:17 IST
Mike Pompeo was on Thursday confirmed as the US secretary of state, with the Senate voting 57-42 in his favour. He succeeded Rex Tillerson, who had had a tumultuous tenure marked by clashes with President Donald Trump.
The confirmation was a foregone conclusion in the Republican-dominated Senate after one Democratic senator pledged support for Pompeo earlier in the week, with two theirs also voting for him on Thursday.
India had been watching the process closely as the confirmation will determine the timing for the first 2+2 dialogue between India and US’s foreign and defence ministers. The meet was supposed to take place in April but was postponed.
However, the nomination had a rocky passage. Pompeo was questioned at length about remarks made by a blogger — and promoted by his campaign — about an Indian-origin political opponent.
The blog in question had referred to Democrat Raj Goyle as “evil” and “just another turban-topper” during Pompeo’s first run for the US House of Representatives in 2010. Goyle later said Pompeo had personally called him to apologise.
However, Bob Menendez, the senior-most Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, pressed him on the incident, asking which Pompeo would advise Trump on sensitive international issues. “Would it be the Pompeo who once called a political opponent a ‘turban-topper’?” he said.
Menendez pressed on: “How will he explain this kind of rhetoric to people of myriad different faiths who wear turbans – whether millions of Sikhs, Punjabis or Muslims in India, a critically important ally?”
He was also grilled about his remarks and position on the LGBTQ community — he opposes same-sex marriage — and on Muslims.
Pompeo defended by saying that as director of CIA, he had never discriminated against anyone for reasons of colour, creed or sexual orientation. But Democrats were looking for more.
Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said: “I also asked him if he’d be willing to recant what he’d said about Muslims and Indian Americans, LGBTQ Americans, and women’s rights, now that he was in line to be our secretary of state and had to deal with countries that might be affected by his remarks.”
“So, with a clear conscience,” he added, “I will be voting against Mr Pompeo’s nomination.”
First Published: Apr 26, 2018 23:17 IST