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King 'undecided' on Pompeo for secretary of state

Sen. Angus King said CIA Director Mike Pompeo does not yet have his vote to be President Donald Trump's next secretar...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 3:51 AM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 3:51 AM

Sen. Angus King said CIA Director Mike Pompeo does not yet have his vote to be President Donald Trump's next secretary of state.

"I am legitimately undecided," King, an independent senator from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, said during an interview Tuesday on CNN's "New Day."

Although he supported Pompeo's confirmation as CIA director, King said secretary of state is a whole different role because the secretary represents the US around the world and the position is a "pure policy adviser to the President."

"I'm just not sure he's the guy who will be a moderating influence on a president who seems to make important decisions rather quickly," King said of Pompeo, a former Kansas Republican congressman before he served as CIA Director.

Republicans plan to push forward with Pompeo's nomination in the weeks ahead even if he does not get a favorable vote out of the Foreign Relations committee. With Sen. Rand Paul a "no" vote and Sen. John McCain back in Arizona battling cancer, Republicans cannot afford to lose a GOP vote on Pompeo's nomination. Republicans need at least one Democrat to join in voting with them in favor of Pompeo's nomination. At the moment, no Democrat has committed to a "yes" vote.

Republicans are targeting Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year, which would include King. Trump one won of Maine's for electoral college votes in 2016.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who voted for Pompeo as CIA director, told CNN on Tuesday she will vote against him for the State Department job if it comes to the floor. Her decision to oppose his nomination was not a surprise given that she faces a challenger from the left for her re-election, but her position illustrates the difficulty ahead of Pompeo.

King also said he's concerned about Pompeo's past positions on Iran, North Korea and Islam.

"He had pretty good answers in the committee," King said of Pompeo's hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. "But I think you have to look beyond just the testimony at the committee and say, 'What's this fellow's overall record?'"

This story has been updated.

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