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From 'Deeply Disappointing' to 'Disgusting,' Heitkamp Draws Ire as First Democrat to Back Pompeo

Virtually ensuring Trump's hawkish CIA director will become next secretary of state, North Dakota senator blasted for "vote she will not be proud of when she looks back on her career"

Jake Johnson

Critics were quick to mock any possible political calculus behind Heitkamp's decision to back Pompeo, arguing that a 'yes' vote won't help her standing among Trump voters in her upcoming reelection bid or stop Republicans from attacking her. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Flouting urgent demands by anti-war groups, environmentalists, and LGBTQ rights organizations to reject Mike Pompeo over his lengthy record of warmongering and bigotry, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Thursday became the first Democrat to declare her support for President Donald Trump's secretary of state pick.

The announcement virtually ensures that Pompeo will become America's top diplomat—as he likely only needs one Democratic vote to make it through the Senate—and immediately drew criticism from progressives who have been pressuring Democrats to block his confirmation.

"Democrats like Heitkamp think that voting for Trump picks will give them cred as far as winning over Trump voters. It won't. It will gain you no political capital."
—Ethan Grey

"This is a vote she will not be proud of when she looks back on her career," Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, told Common Dreams in response to Heitkamp's statement in support of Pompeo. "Sen. Heitkamp may want to look past his record of extremism and that he will enable Donald Trump and John Bolton's worst instincts, but history won't."

Thanks to one Republican defection and the likely absence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Democrats had the power to block Pompeo's nomination. The question in recent days has been whether they would come together and use it.

Heitkamp's support for Pompeo answers this question and all but kills the possibility of a united Democratic coalition. (And there are some indications that other so-called moderate Democrats could follow her lead.)

"Don't send me anymore Heidi Heitkamp fundraising emails," tweeted Lizz Winnstead, progressive activist and co-creator of the Daily Show. "It is disgusting that she would support Pompeo."

Other critics were quick to mock any possible political calculus behind Heitkamp's decision to back Pompeo, arguing that a 'yes' vote won't help her standing among Trump voters in her upcoming reelection bid or stop Republicans from attacking her.


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