Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as the 70th secretary of state of the United States. He was Donald Trump’s No. 1 pick to replace Rex Tillerson as the nation’s top diplomat.
The New York Times describes Pompeo as “an outspoken foreign policy hawk,” and reports that he was confirmed with a 57-42 vote that “lacked the drama of other nail-biting confirmation votes in the Trump era.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) caved to pressure from the White House on Monday and changed his position on Pompeo, announcing that after speaking with both Pompeo and Trump, he supported Pompeo for the position. That gave Pompeo a pass through the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and smoothed the road to confirmation.
In addition to the full Republican contingent, five Democratic senators who are up for re-election in states that Trump won in the 2016—Doug Jones of Alabama, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Donnelly of Indiana—all voted to confirm Pompeo. Angus King, an independent senator representing Maine, also voted to confirm.
Pompeo is a West Point graduate and former tank commander who graduated from Harvard Law School. He spent the last year as CIA director and forged a good relationship with Trump.
After being immediately sworn in, Pompeo was scheduled to fly to Brussels for a meeting of NATO to make his first appearance as secretary of state.
He then has fast-approaching deadlines dealing with Russia, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.
He inherits a State Department that was dismantled by his predecessor, and as the new kid on the block, he will have to build relationships with national security adviser John Bolton, White House chief of staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Of course, this administration moves around faster than a turnstile in a New York City subway station, so time will tell if Pompeo lasts longer in the State Department than Anthony Scaramucci’s 10 days in the White House as communications director.