Republicans accuse Schumer of breaking word on Pompeo confirmation
WASHINGTON– A top Senate Republican accused Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of breaking an agreement to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director once President-elect Donald Trump is sworn-in Friday.
“We had a deal with Schumer, but apparently he’s broken that,” Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told CNN.
As he headed into Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office for a pre-inaugural meeting to discuss the issue, Burr said that he had agreed to a Democratic request to change by one day the intelligence committee’s confirmation hearing for Pompeo in exchange for Schumer’s word that the nominee would be voted on by the Senate on Inauguration Day.
But a senior Senate Democratic aide disputed that was agreed to by Schumer and said the Pompeo hearing was moved from Wednesday to Thursdady last week to accommodate Democratic senators who were stretched thin between multiple confirmation hearings that same day.
Schumer spokesman Matt House issued a statement saying Schumer had asked Vice President-elect Mike Pence to keep the top CIA leaders in place until Pompeo is confirmed, which Schumer has said he expects to happen on Monday.
“While members of the Senate give Rep. Pompeo’s nomination the careful consideration it deserves, Sen. Schumer has asked Vice President Pence to keep Director Brennan on the job over the weekend,” House said Friday in response to Burr’s comments. “Just as Director Hayden served as a bridge between the Bush and Obama presidencies eight years ago, Director Brennan could play the same role for the incoming and outgoing administrations, if the President is willing to keep him on.”
Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, tweeted that the Senate should stay in session all night and weekend to confirm Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, and other members of the Trump Cabinet.
Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican and member of the intelligence committee, was overheard in a Capitol corridor informing several other GOP senators about the issue and firing them up to fight Schumer.
“I hope we’ll stay in session for as long as it takes to get Rep. Pompeo confirmed,” Cotton said in an interview a few minutes later.
Democrats argued thta a CIA director had never before been confirmed on Inauguration Day and that Pompeo has controversial views on surveillance and other issues that need to be debated on the floor.
They defended the delay despite criticism from Republicans that the world is too dangerous not to confirm the CIA director immediately.
“There are some serious questions as to what Pompeo is gong to do at the CIA,” said Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. “We ought to be able to have a debate on the Senate floor.”
By Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Deirdre Walsh