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Cotton Speaks in Support of Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo

April 26, 2018

Contact: Caroline Tabler or James Arnold (202) 224-2353

The office of Secretary of State has always held a place of special prominence in the President's Cabinet. The conduct of foreign policy is the highest craft of statesmanship. In the Secretary's hands rest matters of the most sensitive, delicate, and consequential nature, affairs of war and-we always hope-peace. President Kennedy put it simply when he said, "Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us." That's why presidents across the ages have filled the office of Secretary of State with some of the most distinguished statesmen in our history, names like Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Clay, Webster, Marshall, Kissinger.

And now we will add the name of Mike Pompeo. Very soon, the Senate will confirm Mike to be our seventieth Secretary of State. I strongly support his nomination, as I've made widely known in recent days. Before we vote, I want to emphasize what a truly impressive nominee he is-a man of noble character whose name future generations, I suspect, will include on the roster of those great statesmen.

Mike has succeeded at every stage of life. He graduated first in his class at West Point, and then joined the 2nd Cavalry on the front line of freedom in West Germany. After his military service, he excelled at Harvard Law School. He later started one business and served as president of another. He became a respected community leader in his adopted home of Wichita, where his fellow Kansans elected him in repeated landslides to serve them in the House of Representatives. Wichita is also where he had his biggest victory of all, winning the hand of his bride, Susan. And, of course, he's served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for the past fifteen months, after being confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 66 to 32. Since then, I've watched Mike lead the CIA, boost its morale, and put the right people in the right places, driving them to succeed and holding them accountable. None of this surprises me, because I've known Mike for as long as I've been in public life. When I was an unknown candidate for the House, he called me out of the blue to encourage me and offer support. He was one of my best friends in the House, and one of my strongest supporters and smartest advisors in my Senate campaign. As members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, we traveled the world together to learn, conduct oversight, and engage with foreign leaders.

Mike and I have collaborated on several occasions to highlight gathering threats to our nation. In 2013, we wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling on our party to support a strike against Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons. It was a lonely place for Republicans to be, but we were right then, we're right now, and I only wish more Republicans and President Obama had heeded our call. In 2015, we traveled to Vienna, where we discovered and revealed Iran's secret side deals with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 2016, after a trip to Norway and Sweden, we wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal drawing attention to Europe's growing challenges with mass migration, and what it means for our own country.

Mike has gone from one success to another because he's a consummate professional, a man who treats everyone with respect, but he doesn't pull a punch or shade a view to please his audience. Democrats don't deny his professionalism. The senior senator from Montana has said he's led an "exemplary career in public service." The junior senator from Delaware has said he'd be a "good advocate for the career professionals at the State Department and USAID." Even former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright have expressed their hope that he'd reinvigorate the State Department.

And nonpartisan experts agree: Mike Pompeo's integrity and record of accomplishment cannot be denied. As Admiral James Stavridis has said Mike is "a solid, thoughtful and accomplished leader." It's why thirty national-security professionals, including former NSA Director Keith Alexander, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, submitted a letter endorsing Mike's nomination.

Unfortunately, many Democratic senators are opposing Mike's nomination, and they've given their reasons. But I have to say, those reasons don't hold up very well under scrutiny. Some say Mike is averse to diplomacy. In fact, he simply knows that diplomacy is most effective when it's backed with a credible military threat As Frederick the Great said, diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments. But he also knows that some situations may not be susceptible to diplomatic solutions, no matter how much one might wish it so. That's a fact of life; it's not a reason to oppose Mike's nomination. And I would add that he recently demonstrated his commitment to diplomacy by meeting with Kim Jong-un to lay the groundwork for the President's upcoming summit. It's hard to think of a regime worse than North Korea. But Mike was willing to sit down with Kim to try to find a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. That should show us all, definitively, that he's committed to diplomacy.

Others say they're opposing Mike because they disagree with him on social issues. Here, I would simply note that most Republicans surely disagreed with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry's views on these issues, yet they still voted to confirm them. And for that matter, Hillary Clinton opposed same-sex marriage when the Democrats voted to confirm her back in 2009. So it hardly seems fair to hold Mike Pompeo to a different standard. Still others oppose Mike's nomination because he refused to say he would resign if President Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller. I have to say, that's quite a stretch for a Secretary of State nomination. This isn't the Department of Justice. And on the merits, I would ask, do they think it would've been a good idea for Henry Kissinger and James Schlesinger to resign in 1973 or 1974? Would it help or hurt America to have our top diplomat suddenly leave the world stage at a time of domestic turmoil? And if that is to be the standard, have those Democrats asked Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that question? I bet they haven't.

Finally, there are those who worry that he won't be a check on the President. But since when is a Cabinet member supposed to do that? Regular elections and the separation of powers-and all it entails-are the checks on the executive branch under our Constitution. The President's Cabinet owes him candid advice, especially when he doesn't want to hear it. But they aren't supposed to undermine him. And the State Department in particular is the last place for open conflict between the President and a Cabinet member. If the world doesn't believe that the Secretary has the President's confidence and conducts foreign policy on his behalf, he's of little use to the President or to the country.

In fact, I would say it's the President's confidence in Mike that cinches his readiness for the job. When Mike Pompeo speaks, the world will know the Secretary of State speaks for the President. He's well respected by the President's national-security team, and he's well respected by the world. I know Mike Pompeo will excel as our Secretary of State, and I regret some senators will oppose him for short-sighted, political reasons. But since they all profess grave concerns about the lack of personnel at the State Department, I look forward to them all confirming Secretary Pompeo's sub-cabinet nominees promptly once he submits them.

But even better is to put politics aside and do the right thing for our country. Mike Pompeo has served his country with distinction, he's eminently qualified to be Secretary of State, and we need him on the job now. So I call on every senator to vote for confirmation and to send to the State Department a strong leader, a wise counselor, and a good man: Mike Pompeo.