After much hoopla, the Senate officially confirmed Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, but by a margin so small that it hasn’t been seen since the Carter administration.
Pompeo was confirmed by a final vote of 57 to 42 and now the GOP has a strong talking point of “obstruction” to use against the Democrat Senators who voted against him.
From The New York Times
For Democrats who will be on the ballot in Trump states, a vote against Mr. Pompeo could have exposed them to attacks from the Republicans, including Mr. Trump, eager to label them obstructionists.
Mr. Pompeo also managed to avoid what would have been an embarrassing rebuke on his way into the new post, as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had seemed likely to not recommend his confirmation. But Mr. Paul, an outspoken foe of interventionist foreign policy, relented just before the committee’s vote on Monday.
As secretary of state, Mr. Pompeo will also have to navigate the rivalries within the Trump administration. At the White House, John R. Bolton, the administration’s third national security adviser in a little over a year, is presiding over another purge of top assistants. Mr. Pompeo must forge a working relationship with Mr. Bolton as he creates alliances with the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the president’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.
Mr. Pompeo’s early military career — he attended West Point and became a tank commander before leaving for Harvard Law School — could endear him to Mr. Kelly and Mr. Mattis, both former four-star generals.
But handling Mr. Kushner will be a delicate matter. Mr. Kushner’s diplomatic portfolio includes forging a Middle East peace deal and safeguarding the relationship with Mexico even as Mr. Trump pursues his hard-line immigration policies and wall on the southern border.
Mr. Pompeo will also have to mend fences with the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, whose relationship with Mr. Tillerson was so strained that she ordered his portrait removed from her New York offices. She was absent from this week’s state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Pompeo’s year of service as the director of the C.I.A. has given him a running start. He forged an unlikely bond with Mr. Trump while giving the president daily intelligence briefings. The trust between them is so strong that Mr. Trump sent Mr. Pompeo to Pyongyang last month on a secret tripto pave the way for a high-stakes summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, now expected to take place in June.
But first, Mr. Pompeo must deal with Russia.
Within hours of his landing in Europe, he will preside over a breakfast meeting at NATO headquarters to discuss new measures to counter an increasingly aggressive Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, who U.S. intelligence officials say has ordered the annexation of Crimea, intervention in Ukraine, the hacking of the American election in 2016 and murders or attempted murders of countless rivals, including a former Russian spy living in Britain. He has maintained his military and diplomatic support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite the massacre of civilians and the use of chemical weapons.
The gathering will thrust Mr. Pompeo into the core contradiction of the Trump presidency, which is staffed with hawks pushing for an increasingly tough line against Moscow but is headed by a president who hopes for improving ties while facing an investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.
In two weeks, Mr. Trump is also set to announce whether he will exit the Iran nuclear deal, struck by President Barack Obama and the leaders of Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China. Leaving the deal would further fray ties with Europe, but failing to scrap the deal would violate a core campaign pledge.