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Bob Corker gets into tense back and forth with Mike Pompeo



WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 25, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'An Update on American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got into a heated
    exchange with Sen. Bob Corker over President Donald Trump’s
    recent rhetoric.
  • Pompeo dodged the questions, but ultimately said the
    administration’s tough actions have actually produced real
    policy wins.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got into a heated
exchange with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob
Corker on Wednesday during a hearing in which the two were
discussing President Donald Trump’s recent controversial rhetoric
about Russia, NATO allies, and more.

Corker started off a round of questioning by asking Pompeo, who
was testifying on recent diplomatic developments, about why the
president sows distrust with certain statements, like not wanting
to back up small NATO countries such as Montenegro.

“So why does he do those things?” Corker asked. “Is there some
strategy behind creating doubt in US senators’ minds on both
sides of the aisle? Doubt in the American people as to what his
motivations are when in fact we have tremendous faith in you?”

Corker noted that he and his colleagues have a great deal of
respect for Pompeo and other cabinet officials like Defense
Secretary James Mattis, but that he finds Trump’s words
significantly damaging.

Pompeo responded by noting the administration’s policies on
Russian aggression, such as sanctions and the expulsion of

“Senator I disagree with most of what you just said there,”
Pompeo said. “You somehow disconnect the administration’s
activities from the president’s actions. They’re one in the same.
Every sanction that was put in place was signed off by the
president of the United States, every spy that was removed was
directed by the president.”

“Here’s what the world needs to know with respect to
Russia. This administration’s been tougher than previous
administrations and I fully expect it will,” he added. “The
president’s own words were he’s happy to figure out if we can
make improvements with respect to the relationship between he and
Vladimir Putin and change the course. But if not, he’ll be their
— I get the words wrong — their toughest enemy.”

Corker chided Pompeo for not directly answering him,
telling the chief diplomat, “Y

ou handle yourself in
exactly the way you should in my opinion as it relates to
comment. I notice that you are not responding to what I’m

The two then exchanged a rapid back and forth about whether or
not Pompeo properly answered the questions, to which Corker said,
“Hell, let’s run the transcript again if you want to talk about

Pompeo squashed the tiff by telling Corker, “We’ll let the world

Corker said, “It’s not about you and it’s not about Mattis and
it’s not about what we’re doing on the ground.”

Pompeo ended with a final rebuke of Corker, noting the gains the
Trump administration has made as it relates to NATO and
relationships with key allies.

“I talk to the same allies you do. I speak to the same foreign
ministers directly,” he said. “It is the case that they are
behaving differently today. There’s no doubt about that. They are
now scrambling to figure out that they are fully part of NATO.
Some of that is the result of the statements that you referred
to, senator.”

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