Washington, D.C. — During the nomination hearing for Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, on April 12, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who is the only Republican senator that has publicly announced opposition to President Trump’s nomination of CIA director Mike Pompeo to become Secretary of State, told Pompeo that his nomination doesn’t appear to align with the foreign policy view that Trump outlined during his presidential campaign.
“[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 said to 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 said, noting Trump’s previous public statements that implied opposition to “another Iraq war, bombing Syria without permission.”
“So, these are the advice you will give and I guess that’s my biggest concern with your nomination is that I don’t think it reflects the millions of people who voted for President Trump who actually voted for him because they thought it’d be different. That it wouldn’t be the traditional bipartisan consensus to bomb everywhere and be everywhere around the world. So, that’s my main concern and I just want to make sure that that’s loud and clear to everyone that is my concern,” Paul repeated.
Paul also took issue with Pompeo’s belief that the President has the authority to bomb Assad’s forces or installations without congressional approval.
“Thanks for your testimony and thanks for going through this grueling enterprise and your willingness to serve the country. You discussed with Senator Kaine a little bit about whether or not the President has the authority to bomb Assad’s forces or installations in Syria and you mention historically, well we have done it in the past,” Paul said.
“I don’t think that’s a complete enough answer,” the senator added. “I mean my question would be do you think it’s constitutional? 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?” Paul asked.
“Senator, as I — I think I said this to Senator Kaine, I’m happy to repeat my view on this. 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 — I don’t think that has been disputed by Republicans or Democrats throughout an extended period of time,” Pompeo asserted.
Paul argued against Pompeo’s assertion, stating, “Actually it was disputed mostly by our founding fathers who believed they gave that authority to Congress and actually they’re uniformly opposed to the executive branch having that power. In fact, Madison wrote very specifically.”
“The executive branch is the branch most prone to war. Therefore, we have with studied care vested that authority into the legislature,” Paul added. “So, the fact that we have in the past done this doesn’t make it constitutional and I would say that I take objection to the idea that the president can go to war when he wants, where he wants.”
Paul’s continued his questioning of Pompeo by asking, “With regard to Afghanistan, some have argued that it’s time to get out of Afghanistan. What do you think?”