Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told MSNBC on Tuesday that secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo’s secret meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was a key factor in his decision to embrace Pompeo.
“I think also Pompeo going to North Korea at the behest of the President, some have said this says more about the President than Pompeo, but at the same time, it’s an openness to communication,” he told MSNBC. “We talk about the whole idea of, you know, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ I think Trump’s is sorta ‘Speak loudly, carry a big stick, but also maybe have an olive branch somewhere out there.’ You’re willing to still have diplomacy.”
Paul was adamantly opposed to Pompeo’s nomination a week ago, announcing in a press conference that he was going to do “everything I can to block” Pompeo, citing Pompeo’s hawkish views on foreign policy, specially as it relates to the war in Iraq. Paul tweeted Monday that he had “received assurances” from Trump and Pompeo that Pompeo sides with Trump in his belief that the war in Iraq was a “mistake” and that “regime change has destabilized the region.”
“I still do believe that the President’s instincts are for less war, less involvement and many of our foreign policy interventions have backfired on us, that’s what I’ve been saying,” Paul said Tuesday. “What I’ve been doing is trying to push to make sure there are voices around him that actually agree with the President on that.”
Last week, The Washington Post was first to report that Pompeo quietly met with Kim to prepare for a meeting between Trump and Kim within the next few months. The meeting took place over Easter weekend, just after Pompeo was nominated to replace fired former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.