April 26, 2018

Senator Warren Delivers Floor Speech Opposing Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State

Warren: "Mike Pompeo's confirmation would degrade American diplomacy and erode our moral standing on the world stage."

Video (YouTube) 

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor opposing the nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State. In her remarks, Senator Warren highlighted Mr. Pompeo's troubling stance on torture, his hawkish views on Iran, his attacks on the LGBTQ community, and his preference for war over diplomatic solutions.  The Senator also criticized Pompeo's offensive and false claims that Muslim American leaders were potentially complicit in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, and called on her colleagues to reject his confirmation.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
April 26, 2018

I rise today to express my strong opposition to President Trump's nomination of Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State. There are many reasons to oppose this nomination but the main reason for me is pretty straightforward: Mike Pompeo is completely unfit to serve as America's chief diplomat.

During his time as a public servant, Mike Pompeo has embraced a variety of views that betray America's values. Whether it's his support for interrogation techniques that amount to torture, his preference for war over diplomatic solutions or his hateful, blatantly discriminatory views about Muslim and LGBTQ Americans, Mike Pompeo's confirmation would degrade American diplomacy and erode our moral standing on the world stage.

Let's start with his evolving position on torture. In 2014, then-Congressman Pompeo praised the interrogators who used torture as quote "patriots" and quote "heroes." But when seeking confirmation to become CIA Director, Mr. Pompeo suddenly said he would "always comply with the law" prohibiting torture.

When asked if he would comply with a request from the President to use torture, he said he couldn't "imagine" being asked to do so. Never mind that as a candidate Donald Trump boasted about his desire to bring back waterboarding and "a hell of a lot worse." And in his later written answers, Mr. Pompeo suggested that he could support bringing back waterboarding and other torture techniques if he thought they were necessary.  

So first, Mike Pompeo was for torture, but when he wanted to become CIA Director, he miraculously changed his position. Now, he thinks the United States should reserve the right to torture people in the future. This position undermines our core values as Americans - and that alone should disqualify him from being America's Secretary of State.

But there's more. Mike Pompeo's hawkish views could quite literally lead us into another war. Just look at his views on Iran. The Iranian government is a bad actor-no doubt about it. That's why the Iran nuclear deal was so important.  It is easier to counter Iran's bad behavior if it has no nuclear weapon than it would be to keep Iran in check if it could threaten the region and threaten the world with a nuclear bomb.  

The deal with Iran imposed strong limits and intrusive inspections on Iran's nuclear program so that it cannot develop a nuclear weapon - and our Intelligence Community tells us it is working. That's very important to the security of our allies and the security of the whole world.

The Iran nuclear deal is a negotiated solution designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons-and it was accomplished without resorting to military action. The deal is the product of putting diplomacy first. That's good for the security of the United States, good for our allies, and good for the world. 

Mike Pompeo doesn't seem to understand that. He has called the Iran nuclear deal a quote "surrender," and he has said that the United States should walk away.  Pompeo has even publicly contemplated regime change.

How can we expect countries to trust America's word when our chief diplomat believes that we have the right to break our word and violate international agreements at any moment?

And think for a minute about what it would mean for negotiating any deal with North Korea about their nuclear weapons if Mr. Pompeo is in charge. He said we can tear up our agreement with Iran, even though they have followed through on their part, just because Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo have decided they don't like it. 

Who would negotiate with a United States that has so little respect for standing by its promises?  I cannot in good faith vote in favor of Mr. Pompeo for the reasons I have outlined. But there is another reason I cannot vote for him, on that is deeply personal to me.  

Shortly after the Boston Marathon attack, then-Congressman Pompeo accused Muslim leaders of being silent about the bombings, and even said that they were potentially complicit in the attack.

After the Marathon bombings, all of Boston grieved together - including our Muslim leaders. Our Muslim communities helped Massachusetts emerge stronger and more united. To suggest otherwise is insulting to the Boston Marathon bombing victims and to our Muslim American brothers and sisters.  And when he was shown to be wrong, Mike Pompeo refused to apologize.  His comments were ignorant, offensive, and just plain wrong. They certainly aren't the words of someone who is fit to be America's chief diplomat.

But there's more.  Mike Pompeo's longstanding attacks on the LGBTQ community also make him unfit to serve as Secretary of State.  He supported legislation in Congress to allow states not to recognize equal marriage, and he relied on financial contributions from hateful groups like Family Research Council.  His public record paints a deeply disturbing world view.

The risk posed by this nomination is magnified because Mike Pompeo would be teaming up with John Bolton, President Trump's new National Security Advisor. John Bolton has never met a war he didn't like, and Mike Pompeo supported Bolton's disastrous Iraq War. Together, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton will fan the flames of war in President Trump's foreign policy, because they both embrace military solutions first.

I hope that, if confirmed, Mr. Pompeo will take real steps to prioritize diplomacy, to improve morale at the State Department, and to fill key diplomatic positions that have been vacant for far too long. But at a time when we're facing enormous global challenges, the State Department needs a leader who will put diplomacy first to solve problems and to protect our national security. Mike Pompeo is not that leader. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against his nomination.