WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday came out swinging against Democrats who are actively opposing President Trump’s secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo, whose confirmation will be debated on Monday, faces a wealth of opposition from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Look, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president,” Sanders said during an early morning appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends”.
Democrats are not alone in their quest to block Pompeo’s approval.
In addition to the 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who say they will vote against Pompeo’s confirmation, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he, too, will oppose Pompeo.
During a Senate confirmation hearing on April 12, the 21 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Paul, had the opportunity to question Pompeo.
During Paul’s questioning of Pompeo, issues involving President Trump’s interventionist policies in the Middle East were a topic of near-constant scrutiny.
“[Trump] says the Iraq war was the single worst decision ever made. So, once again, I’m concerned that you won’t be supporting the president,” Paul told Pompeo. “That you will be influencing him in a way that I think his inclinations are actually better than many of his advisors. That the Iraq war was a mistake that we need to come home from Afghanistan.”
“He was against being involved in Syria at many times in his career,” Paul continued, referencing Trump’s past statements which suggest he opposes “another Iraq war, bombing Syria without permission.”
Paul went on to grill the secretary of state nominee over an exchange between Pompeo and another member of the committee, Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), in which Paul noted that as the two discussed whether or not Trump has the authority to bomb President Bashar al Assad’s forces or installations in Syria, Pompeo had replied that America has done so in the past.
“My question would be do you think it’s constitutional?,” Paul demanded. “Does the President have the constitutional authority to bomb Assad’s forces? Does he have the authority absent congressional action to bomb Assad’s forces or installations?”
“Senator, … I think I said this to Senator Kaine, I’m happy to repeat my view on this,” Pompeo replied. “Those decisions are weighted. Every place we can, we should work alongside Congress to get that but yes I believe the President has the domestic authority to do that…. I don’t think that has been disputed by Republicans or Democrats throughout an extended period of time.”
While not mentioning Paul directly, Sanders said that anyone who votes against Pompeo’s confirmation would be doing a disservice to the country.
“[Pompeo] has been one of the leading people when it comes to the negotiations and the conversations with North Korea,” Sanders said. “To stop that would be incredibly dangerous and damaging for our country and the world.”