“You come before a group of senators today who are filled with serious doubts about this White House and its conduct of American foreign policy,” said a top lawmaker at the start of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Later, he added, “It appears that in a ‘ready, fire, aim’ fashion, the White House is waking up every morning and making it up as they go.”
If you think that statement came from a Democrat, you’d be wrong. In fact, it came from Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the panel’s chair.
It was a remarkable moment, as critical statements made by high-profile senators from the president’s own party are extremely rare. What makes it all the more striking is that’s how Corker opened the session — setting a combative tone for the hearing right from the start.
Pompeo now has to worry he’ll receive tough questions from both Democrats and Republicans, which means the secretary is likely in for a few rough hours.
Pompeo’s task to defend the administration’s recent foreign policy decisions is a tough one. Negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program are stalling, and last week, President Donald Trump had one of this worst weeks ever after seemingly kowtowing to Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the world stage.
Corker will certainly give Pompeo the chance to explain himself — but it’s clear the senator came into the hearing with a skeptical view of how the White House is handling American foreign policy.
“It’s our hope that you can reduce our level of concern,” Corker, who was once rumored as a potential Trump secretary of state, said, “that those in the White House know what they are doing and that — to be candid — you know what they are doing.”