Trump’s secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo just got exposed in bombshell scandal

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President Trump’s choice of foreign policy hawk John Bolton as National Security Adviser doesn’t have to be approved by the U.S. Senate but another controversial pick for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, does require such approval and, beginning with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings tomorrow, that may be a problem.

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The latest black eye for the current director of the CIA is that while president of Sentry International, a Kansas company that imported oilfield equipment, Pompeo did business with a firm owned by the Chinese government and then failed to report it on his Senate confirmation questionnaire, reports McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau. 

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In fact, Pompeo also failed to report it in 2017 when he was confirmed to head the CIA.

His spokesman shrugs it off, saying that the company where he worked from 2006 to 2010 did business in a lot of countries and Pompeo could not be expected to know every detail.

However, McClatchy points out this particular detail was an issue in Pompeo’s successful run for the House of Representatives from Witchita, Kansas in 2010, when his opponent, Raj Goyle, “criticized Pompeo’s ownership of a company that acted as an agent for a Chinese oilfield equipment manufacturer.”

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In an article in the Witchita Eagle in October 2010, Pompeo described the Chinese firm as a supplier to his company.

Goyle pointed out Sentry took $400,000 in government subsidies to create 120 jobs in Oklahoma and Texas (although on the campaign trail he said he opposed government incentives like that).

“In a desperate attempt — that’s failing — to hide his extensive outsourcing, he wants to claim credit for putting Oklahomans and Texans to work,” Goyle said in 2010. “What’s clear is he does not have a plan to put Kansans back to work.”

Harrell Kirstein, spokesman for the Trump War Room at American Bridge’s 21st Century, told McClatchy that now his former Chinese business partners “are spending more than $30,000 a month lobbying the Trump administration and probably drooling over the idea of installing their pal as secretary of state.”

His blatant omission of doing business with a Chinese government-owned company will be only one of many subjects about which Pompeo can expect to be questioned by the Senate.

Unlike in 2017 when he was approved by the Senate for the CIA with 14 Democratic votes, this time there is significant Democratic opposition to his appointment to replace Rex Tillerson at Trump’s decimated State Department. 

With Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) out on sick leave and Republican-Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky already vowing to vote against Pompeo, he will need at least some Democratic votes to make it through committee and probably to win approval by the full Senate.

“Democratic activists around the country have become energized by the nomination of Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state,” reports The Intercept, “kicking off a bout of organizing around foreign policy that has little precedent outside the lead-up to an imminent invasion.”

“Pompeo,” adds The Intercept, “a committed Islamophobe and war hawk, has galvanized opposition particularly for his hostility to the Iran nuclear deal, which Democrats see as a signature piece of the legacy of former President Barack Obama.”

Pompeo’s nomination by itself is controversial but the fact it came at the same time as Bolton and Gina Haspel, deputy director of the CIA, “has frightened people into action,” said Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War.

“When Donald Trump hired John Bolton,” said Miles, “the fight over Pompeo went from being about just another terrible Trump nominee to potentially the difference between going to war or not.”

“What we’re hearing from our activists and our partners,” added Miles, “are that people are fired up.”

One of those who voted to approve Pompeo for the CIA was Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for which she was criticized in her home state.

Now with California Democrats more than two to one against Pompeo as Secretary of State, according to a recent poll, and Feinstein facing a tough primary challenge, she may well vote against his confirmation.

“This should be a no-brainer,” said Karthik Ganapathy of MoveOn. “Not only is it good policy for Sen. Feinstein to oppose a warmongering extremist as the next leader of our nation’s diplomats, it’s also smart politics.”

Elizabeth Beavers of the umbrella group Indivisible, founded after the 2016 election to resist the Trump agenda, said: “We can’t block John Bolton, we can’t force Trump to stay in the (Iran) deal, but we can block Pompeo, who would enable Trump in shredding the deal up.”

It isn’t just Sen. Feinstein who is feeling the pressure. 

Beavers said at least 178 activist groups from across the country have signed four different letters of opposition to Pompeo, and they have made over 4,000 calls to Senators.

Meanwhile, Pompeo has been on a charm offensive of his own, calling current and former Democratic Senators and government officials to seek their counsel, if not support.

That includes Secretary Hillary Clinton, who acknowledged she spoke to Pompeo, even though as a Congressman he was one of her lead tormentors over what happened in Benghazi in 2012.

He also called former Secretary of State John Kerry who, as a Congressman, he branded a “traitor.”

In the real world, Pompeo has been a friend, advocate, and protector of President Trump at every turn, and can be expected to join with him and Bolton to kill the Iran deal, take a tough stance on North Korea and urge more military action in Syria and elsewhere. 

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Pompeo represents everything Democrats are against and feeds Trump’s worst instincts and cheers for his awful ideas, so any Democrat who votes to confirm him deserves to face a future challenge, most likely from an ally of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who is not confused at all about how to vote.

Back in the early days of the Trump administration, it might have been fair for some Democrats to give Pompeo a chance to show his true colors.

However, now that Pompeo has shown that he is fully onboard with all the dangerous, terrible things Trump has done, given the unpredictable nature of a president under siege, voting for Pompeo would clearly be very, very wrong. 

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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