Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State:
“CIA Director Mike Pompeo has the full confidence of the president, an outstanding record of service to our country, and is more than qualified to serve as Secretary of State. As Director Pompeo’s nomination now moves to the Senate Floor, I strongly urge my colleagues to put country over party and confirm him without further delay.”
A rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks at the hearing is below:
I actually am in a unique position. I considered voting against the two previous Secretary of State nominees. John Kerry, who I had worked with, he sat right in that chair, because I disagreed with him on many public policy decisions. And, in fact, went forward and did many of the things that I thought he might do as Secretary of State. And then Rex Tillerson who was here before us not long ago. I was not comfortable that he was committed to human rights the way I wanted him to be committed and amongst some other things. And in both instances it caused me to kind of go back and review what it is our function is.
And perhaps that is—I am not saying perhaps I’m wrong about what I think our function is but I will share what I hope and believe our function should be when we talk about advise and consent. Because on the one hand there are those who argue our role is to sort of vote for people based on whether or not they are the kind of person we would have picked if we were president. And the other is whether our job is to basically vet the president's preference to see if they are qualified and capable and making sure there is nothing disqualifying against them. And also with the view, however, that the more important the position, the more deference a president should deserve. So if this was subsecretary of something the standard may not be as deferential as it would be someone who is in the line of succession and also works directly with the president. The chairman's early outline when it comes to qualifications irrespective of whether or not we may agree with them on public policy. I don't think anyone could make a credible argument that Mike Pompeo is not intellectually qualified and doesn’t bring experience to this position that I think are on par with any of the recent nominees that have been offered up to this post and in many cases exceeds it.
The chairman has pointed out, he graduated top of his class at West Point which we all know what that means. Not only that, he graduated from Harvard, very high—he was actually the editor of the law review. For those who have gone law school know it is prestigious spot in which to land. Then he was successful in business, then he was a successful member of Congress despite the seniority system that exists there. And now, at the CIA, which Senator Risch has just pointed out, whether you like his views on issues or not I can tell you the intelligence community has faced some very difficult times publicly and internally in the last couple of years. He has done a phenomenal job, at least in leading the organization from morale standpoint, a personnel standpoint.
If he hadn’t been I assure you we would be hearing a lot about it in regards to this. So what it boils down to, and some of the arguments I hear and obviously we’re all entitled to arrive at our position through different criteria, but the arguments I’ve heard in opposition to him is “I just don't agree with him on a public policy,” and the problem is the president is entitled to have people in his cabinet that agree with him or share his world view on public policy. Imagine for a moment if any of us were required to assemble a Senate staff, which is not a cabinet post, but we were forced to take staffers that only disagreed with us but we’re willing to do so publicly and form, such as this, even before they came to work for us. It is a difficult spot to be in. I just personally believe that assuming someone is qualified and there’s no disqualifying aspects of them, ethical or otherwise, that the president deserves to have a Secretary of State that agrees with him or her in general on a foreign policy direction.
That is the only way they expected to conduct the foreign policy of this country. And I would add to that one more point, which the chairman also pointed to, and that is how critical it is that when a Secretary of State travels abroad and meets with someone on behalf of the United States that the person on the other side realizes that this is someone who has the president's ear and the president trusts and listens to. They are not just there symbolically—they are truly someone that has a relationship with the president. That is incredibly important to be successful, so I would urge everyone to support him. I truly cannot imagine a better nominee at this moment in the universe of people out there that’s available.