US Senate Run Could Become a 'Path' to Pompeo Presidency - Pundit

© AP Photo / Susan WalshSecretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, about the FY'20 budget
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, about the FY'20 budget - Sputnik International
The US Department of State dismissed reports that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will soon leave his post to run for a Senate seat. Time magazine published a story on Tuesday claiming that Pompeo recently told three prominent Republicans that he planned to resign.

According to Axios reporter Johnathan Swan, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told him that the rumours are “completely false”.

“I just spoke to the secretary and he said this story is completely false,” Swan tweeted Ortagus’s comment. “We just landed in Brussels for meetings with NATO - he [Pompeo] is 100 percent focused on being President Trump’s Secretary of State”, she said.

​The article alleged that three Republicans, who spoke with the magazine anonymously, said that Pompeo told them in a private conversation, that he had plans to leave his post in less than six months, around early spring of next year, but noted that the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and other issues “are hurting him politically and straining his relationship with Trump”, so his departure might come sooner rather than later.

Another reason laid out in the article was the Secretary of State’s desire to run for the US Senate from Kansas in next year’s elections.

“Pompeo has told friends that he will definitely run for the Kansas Senate seat”, says Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University and former Senate fellow. 

“I have heard that his relations with the president have been strained lately because of the impeachment inquiry and he is said to be worried that his involvement in the investigation may damage his popularity in the eyes of the public. I think, if he wins, he will find the US Senate a place with less stress”, Baker added.

Bob Beatty, a political-science professor at Washburn University in Topeka said that the news seems “viable and certainly very possible”, as Pompeo’s run for the Senate would allow him to later run for president.

“While it is almost unheard of for a Secretary of State to run for the House of Senate – usually they would run for president – this is an unusual and special case. It could be that the path for the presidency for Mike Pompeo is not from the State Department but from the Senate. He could be confident of victory (Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932) and he could run for president in 2023 unburdened by any possible failures of American foreign policy that could ensue from being Secretary of State”.

The impeachment inquiry is also making it more likely that Pompeo could run for Senate, Beatty believes.

“Even if no damaging evidence comes out against Pompeo, the impeachment process highlights the dangers Pompeo faces to his reputation and his political viability by being such a frontline member of the Trump administration”, the academic said.

Dr Djene R. Bajalan, a Missouri State University professor, expressed similar views, saying that the impeachment hearings will make a major difference for Pompeo, especially if the Secretary of State is implicated in wrongdoing.

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, in his testimony, may have done just that.

On Wednesday, Sondland told the House Intelligence Committee leading the impeachment probe that Pompeo was well aware of the pressure being placed upon Ukraine.

“Everyone was in the loop”, he said.

“The State Department was fully supportive of our engagement in Ukraine affairs, and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing”, Sondland noted, referring to allegations that Trump was pushing to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and their business dealings in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Pompeo refused to comment on Sondland’s statements, but praised Trump and his State Department policies on Ukraine.

“I know precisely what American policy was with respect to Ukraine. I was working on it, and I'm very proud of what we've accomplished”, he said.

If Pompeo resigns, experts believe that the political consequences for the Trump administration will be minimal.

“Although Trump himself would be losing someone that has become a bit of the “rock” of his foreign policy, so he would lose a strong and loyal voice in his administration for his policies”, Beatty pointed out.

“Evidently, the optics of yet another departure from the administration would not be good for the Trump administration,” Bajalan said, adding that, “it would most likely make little difference to the Trump base, but it might hurt support for the president among independent voters”.
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