CIA Director Mike Pompeo was narrowly confirmed on Thursday to become the 70th United States secretary of state, despite historic opposition from Democrats.
Pompeo was confirmed following a Senate vote of 57-42, inching over the line for a simple majority needed for approval.
While Pompeo faced intense Democratic pushback, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) ultimately supported his nomination.
Something to keep in mind: the Democratic senators who flipped to back Trump’s secretary of state nominee all are running in states the president comfortably won in 2016.
“As America faces grave threats from around the world, especially with the rise of China and Russia, I am confident that Mike Pompeo is the right choice to serve as our next Secretary of State,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement following the vote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) defended his “no” vote on Pompeo’s nomination, saying it came down to needing a secretary of state “who’ll check Trump’s bellicose nature, not encourage it.”
I voted against Pompeo because we need a secretary of state who’ll check Trump’s bellicose nature, not encourage it. After 15+ years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we need someone who will bring nations together in diplomatic efforts, not someone who supports never-ending wars.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 26, 2018
Pompeo has already made his presence known on the international stage. During Easter weekend, the CIA director met with Kim Jong Un for over an hour, discussing the bombshell meeting tentatively set to take place between the North Korean leader and President Trump.
Following the meeting, North Korea issued a statement saying it would halt all nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
“North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Trump said in a tweet. “Also will ‘Shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s Northern Side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear tests.’ Progress being made for all!”
Pompeo was in jeopardy for a bit facing an unfavorable recommendation from Congress, however, a last-minute flip by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) saved the newly confirmed secretary of state from that blemish.
Pompeo takes over at the State Department from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who reportedly had a rocky relationship with the president that ended when Trump fired him on Twitter a few months back.
Tillerson’s bond with Trump soured quickly once reports emerged that the oil titan had questioned the president’s intelligence, which he also refused to deny ever happening.
Notably, Tillerson did not thank Trump specifically for the opportunity to serve at the state department during his farewell address, instead, he stressed the importance of defending the constitution.