Washington (AFP) – The US Senate voted Thursday to approve former CIA director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state Thursday, after a bruising battle by Democrats against President Donald Trump’s nominee.
Pompeo, who earned Trump’s confidence after a year at the CIA, was accused by Democrats as being too bellicose and harboring anti-Muslim and homophobic sentiments.
But after barely getting the nomination past the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo was easily confirmed by the entire body in a vote of 57-42, with a handful of Democratic senators facing tough re-election battles voting in favor.
The approval came in time for Pompeo to lead the US delegation to NATO foreign minister talks in Brussels this weekend and to arrange a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the coming months.
Pompeo replaces Rex Tillerson, the former oil executive Trump fired in March after a year of tensions and turmoil in the State Department, where he alienated much of his staff and left the body deeply demoralized.
But where Tillerson was seen as a voice for moderation in the Trump administration, Pompeo is viewed as a hawk who could combine with new White House National Security Advisor John Bolton to back more aggressive posturing by Trump on the world stage.