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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) says that she will vote to approve Mike Pompeo, currently the CIA director, for secretary of state because Trump is "entitled" to his whatever cabinet he wants. (Photo: AP)

Democrat Heitkamp Backing War Hawk Pompeo Because Trump 'Entitled to His Own Cabinet'

A day after becoming first Democrat to say she would vote to confirm hawkish CIA director to be Trump's next secretary of state, Senator from North Dakota stumbled to explain why Pompeo's troubling record on torture and NSA spying would not dissuade her. Then quickly walked away.

Jon Queally

A day after Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) received rebuke for making the "deeply disappointing" announcement she would vote in favor of Mike Pompeo as the next U.S. secretary of state, she told a reporter on Friday the reason was because President Donald Trump is "entitled to his own cabinet" and that despite concerns over the current CIA director's support for torture, NSA spying programs, and other right-wing positions—well, "at the same token, if it's not him... I mean, we need another secretary of state."

Tracked down at the airport before leaving Washington, D.C. for the weekend, The Undercurrent's "intrepid" Lauren Windsor asked Heitkamp to explain her decision to become the first Democrat to publicly back Pompeo, a move that virtually ensures he will win Senate confirmation.

"You know, I always have believed that someone is entitled to is their own cabinet," Heitkamp said. "And, you know, [Pompeo's] clearly qualified."

But when the simple questions about Pompeo's controversial and well-documented record were asked, the Democrat seemed eager to get away.


In response to Heitkamp's initial statement in support of Pompeo on Thursday, director of Win Without War Stephen Miles told Common Dreams that "this is a vote she will not be proud of when she looks back on her career."

On Friday,  Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, finally announced he would vote against approving Pompeo out of the committee.

That means that Pompeo will not receive the endorsement of the SFRC, but could still be brought to the full senate for a floor vote and—because of the support of Heitkamp, and possibly other Democrats—will likely be confirmed.

Because of Trump's new national security advisor John Bolton and his nominee to replace Pompeo at CIA, torture architect Gina Haspel, human rights organization and peace groups have been trying desperately to stop what they are calling the president's "war cabinet."

Not yet willing to give up, CodePink urged people to put their focus on getting Heitkamp to reverse her decision, writing in an email on Saturday morning:

We have been calling on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to approve Pompeo’s nomination and it looks like they won’t. But GOP leaders are planning to bring the nomination to the Senate floor anyway. In order to keep him from being approved, we need Senator Heitkamp to reverse her position. Help us tell Senator Heitcamp not to put a war-hawk in the State Department.

However, it appears that the president might just get exactly what he wants, given that lawmakers like Heitkamp believe that's exactly what Trump's "entitled" to have.

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