President Donald Trump’s top spokeswoman says that Democrats will need to decide whether they love the United States more than they hate Mr Trump as they consider whether to approve CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of State.
“Look, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on “Fox & Friends”.
“And they have to decide that they want to put the safety and the security and the diplomacy of our country ahead of their own political games,” she continued. “And we’re very hopeful that they will.”
Ms Sanders’ comments came just as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to begin considering Mr Pompeo’s nomination, and after some Democrats voiced concern over nominating him.
The opposition to Mr Pompeo’s nomination is rare for an appointee picked to lead America’s State Department, and Mr Trump himself has weighed in to denounce Democrats who might vote against his pick.
“Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State,” Mr Trump tweeted Monday. “The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!”
The confirmation is still expected to be sent from the committee to the entire Senate later this week, but a handful of senators — including at least one Republican — have raised at least some potential that the process could face setbacks.
Pressure to vote against Mr Pompeo has come in large part from progressive groups who have been contacting senators’ offices to voice opposition to the nominee’s hawkish foreign policy views, and his past remarks gay marriage and Muslims.
Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced his opposition to Mr Pompeo’s nomination, arguing that he does not think that the nominee would work to moderate Mr Trump.
“I do not make this decision lightly or without reservations,” Mr Coons said in a statement Friday.
“However, I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the President in critical moments,” the statement continued. “On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force.”
The last time that the Senate panel took a pass on recommending a nominee was during the administration of George W Bush, when John Bolton was picked to be the ambassador to the United Nations. Mr Bolton now serves in the White House as Mr Trump’s national security adviser.