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Rand Paul Caves on Pompeo

Rand Paul abandoned his opposition to Mike Pompeo’s nomination in exchange for practically nothing:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) flipped from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ on Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be secretary of state Monday, paving an unexpectedly easy path for the CIA director to win confirmation from the full Senate as soon as this week.

Paul’s surprising turnabout on Pompeo came after multiple conversations with President Donald Trump, the Kentucky Republican said, as well as getting what he described as “assurances” that the hawkish nominee sees the war in Iraq as “a mistake” and wants to wind down the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

Going from seemingly staunch opponent to credulous supporter is never a good look for any politician, but it is particularly ridiculous in this case. All Pompeo and Trump had to do to get Paul to flip was offer him some meaningless assurances that don’t require them to do anything. If Paul had at least extracted concessions from the administration on war powers or U.S. policy in Yemen or Syria or some commitment about other current issues, that might have made the decision to support Pompeo a little more tolerable. It would still have been a bad decision, but it wouldn’t have been a complete loss. Instead, Paul will get nothing except widespread derision for caving to pressure.

Paul has made reclaiming Congress’ role in matters of war one of his signature issues. Pompeo testified before the Foreign Relations Committee that he doesn’t think the president needs Congressional authorization to order attacks on other states. Trump’s nominee thinks that the president can start wars on his own authority, so Paul should be voting against his nomination for that reason alone. Voting to confirm Pompeo is an effective endorsement of the very illegal and unauthorized warfare that Paul normally condemns.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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