Mike Pompeo tells Senate he's no war hawk

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United States senators preparing for Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing Thursday to become the next secretary of state said one of their main questions would be: will the Central Intelligence Agency director be able to stand up to President Donald Trump?

Paul had an opportunity to schedule a private meeting with Pompeo prior to his confirmation hearings (which started Thursday morning) to ask him about his positions on Iraq and enhanced interrogation.

CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo (L) attends a lunch meeting with President Trump (R) and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and members of his delegation, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 20, 2018.

He said he would take a tough line against Russian Federation and push to improve the Iran nuclear deal through negotiations with European allies so that Mr. Trump could be persuaded to preserve it.

Pompeo will face a battery of questions not only on matters of diplomacy, but also on whether he is willing to stand up to the president. "Should I be confirmed, the regular contact we've established throughout this process will continue", he said.

He sought to pre-empt concerns about Trump's apparent unwillingness to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin directly.

Pompeo has also promised to rebuild the State Department, which has found itself sidelined in foreign policy decisions under the Trump administration and been gutted by the departure of senior diplomats.

He also alleged that Russia's aggressive behaviour enabled by years of soft policy towards it was now over. Pompeo wouldn't say explicitly if he'd advocate a withdrawal if there's no fix by Trump's May 12 deadline, suggesting there could be an extension if significant progress was being made by then.

Mueller has charged 19 people and three companies as part of his efforts, including Trump's former campaign chairman and his first national security adviser. The source, who wasn't authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity, said Pompeo promises a relevant State Department that will find "its swagger once again".

"Let me be clear, members of this Committee expect every Secretary of State to champion the department", Menendez says in his opening statement, which was released in advance.

The U.S. president said that Russia, Iran and Assad would pay a big price for the attack on innocent civilians that killed and injured score of people, including children.

Critics in both parties have looked on in alarm as the State Department's role in shaping and communicating US policy faded during Tillerson's tenure.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), who opposed the deal after the Obama administration brokered it, pressed Pompeo, a foe of the agreement while in Congress, on the subject as he sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On armed conflict, the former army captain added: "It's the last resort".

LGBT rights groups have blasted the nomination.

Pompeo also hinted that the JCPOA - the nuclear deal with Iran reached with six world powers in July 2015 - will continue to be approached with critical scrutiny.

Pompeo is a known entity for Trump, someone who briefed the president almost daily and shares a gung ho attitude towards Iran.

According to a report by McClatchy, Pompeo's Kansas business was involved with a Chinese-government company. He articulates the "demoralizing" exemptions in the very best echelons of the State Department that became an infamous trademark of Tillerson's tenure and he planned to meet these vacancies, asking the Senate's support to acquire nominees confirmed.

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