Politics Rand Paul to oppose Pompeo, Haspel
Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo
<p>President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.</p>Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday he would oppose President Trump's nominations of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of State and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency.
Paul said that he will oppose the nominations and "do everything I can to block" them.
"My announcement today is that I will oppose both Pompeo's nomination and Haspel's nomination," Paul said.
Paul was the only Republican to vote against Pompeo for CIA director. And his decision on Wednesday complicates, but doesn't unilaterally sink, Pompeo's path to leading the State Department.
What to Know About Gina Haspel, the New Director of the CIA
With her promotion to director of the CIA, Gina Haspel becomes the first woman to hold that job. It’s a high profile position, but Haspel has been a pretty low profile person up until this point. So who will be running the government’s spy agency?Haspel, who replaces new secretary of state Mike Pompeo, has been with the agency since 1985, spending much of her career undercover. She has received several awards, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism and the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award in the federal civil service.
Republicans have an 11-10 advantage on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, making Paul a key vote.
If Paul votes no during the panel's deliberations and every Democrat opposes him, committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) will be forced to decide if he'll move Pompeo's nomination to the floor anyway.
It would be an unusual move, but Corker said last year that ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would also get a vote before the full Senate even if his panel split. At the time, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was viewed as a potential swing vote.
Paul's defection could also force Republicans to rely on Vice President Pence, or Democrats, to get Pompeo through the full Senate.
Assuming every Republican senator but Paul supports Pompeo, as they did for his current CIA post, and every Democrat opposes, Senate would split 50-50.
Trump's pick to lead CIA to face questions about torture
President Donald Trump's pick to be the next director of the CIA is a career spymaster who oversaw torture at a secret prison during one of the darkest chapters in the agency's history.If confirmed, 61-year-old Gina Haspel would become the first female head of the CIA.She's described by colleagues as a seasoned veteran with 30-plus years of intelligence experience who would lead the agency with integrity. But it's the few years she spent supervising a secret black site that will be closely scrutinized at her confirmation hearing.
The absence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer and hasn't voted in months, could further complicate Pompeo's nomination.
If McCain doesn't return and Paul votes no, that would leave Republicans short, at a 49-50 vote, forcing them to win over Democratic support.
Pompeo could win over Democratic votes, though he'll likely face a tighter vote than he did last year when he was confirmed to lead the CIA.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that he was not actively urging his caucus to oppose Pompeo or Haspel but said the two picks will face "unanswered" and "outstanding" questions.
Fourteen Democrats, including Schumer, and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) supported Pompeo to lead the CIA.
This breaking news report will be updated.
Fight Over Trump’s CIA Nominee Who Helped Oversee Torture May Hinge On Democrats .
Democrats find themselves in a conspicuous position on the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. For once, they may have the power and the moral high ground to derail one of President Donald Trump’s high-level appointments. Load Error The question is whether they can stick together long enough to do so.Trump last week nominated Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo, who the president in turn tapped to be his next secretary of state. Haspel, a 30-year CIA veteran widely respected by her colleagues as deputy director, would be the first woman to lead the agency if the Senate confirms her.
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