Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) speaks at a rally with MoveOn members and allies gather with leading senators to demand that the Senate vote to reject Mike Pompeo’s nomination for Secretary of State at U.S. Capitol, April 11, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
A 2010 tweet by Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo describing “good read” a racist blog which termed his then Congressional Indian American opponent a “turban topper” was raised during his confirmation hearing by a top Democratic Senator, writes Lalit K. Jha.
Robert Menendez, who is a ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dug out several of the CIA chief’s past remarks or tweets against religious and ethnic minorities to argue that today’s Pompeo was different from the past.
“So, the Pompeo I hear today – much more different than some of the Pompeo of the past. I’m trying to figure out which is the one that is going to act if he gets confirmed as the secretary of state? Because some of these things in the past I could never support.
“Some of the things you said here today could actually be supported. So, I hope you can help me understand this as we move forward in your nomination,” Menendez said, April 12.
Pompeo, 54, nominated by President Donald Trump as his Secretary of State after he sacked Rex Tillerson, did not respond to these allegations.
“Thank You,” he said, as Menendez brought to his notice some of his past controversial statements.
“Is it the Mike Pompeo who said in his 2013 speech that the failure of Muslim leaders to repudiate acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam make them ‘potentially complicit?’ or in these attacks and that this alleged behavior quote casts doubt upon the commitment to peace by adherents of the Muslim faith?” Menendez asked.
“Is it the one that in 2010 in a congressional campaign tweeted out to your support of an article calling your opponent an American of South Asian heritage a “turban topper?” Stating that you thought it was “a good read” – an article that you tweeted that said your opponent “could be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist – who knows?” questioned the Senator from New Jersey.
Menendez was referring to the tweet that his campaign made in 2010 against his then Indian American political opponent Raj Goyale in the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas.
His campaign tweeted “good read” a link to a blog that described Goyale as a “turban topper” who “could be a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist etc who knows.”
Thereafter, Pompeo had called Goyale to apologize and the tweet was deleted by his campaign. Pompeo won the elections.
Menendez was joined by several other Senators to bring up Pompeo’s past remarks against Muslims and on other issues.
“During your tenure in Congress you’ve made statements that have been described as anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT rights, so how would you, as Secretary of State, reconcile those positions and statements that you’ve taken in Congress with the need to represent America’s values and defend human rights?” asked Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Senator Cory Booker asked Pompeo about his past statement on Muslims.
“I want to pick up on one of the themes we talked at length about and that involves many of your past statements concerning Muslim Americans. And perhaps I just want to start with some of your language in a speech you talked about folks who worship other Gods and call it multiculturalism,” Booker said.
“You sort of warn that we live in a country where that happens. Do you have any views that the Muslim faith or people who believe in worshipping quote/unquote ‘other Gods’ is that just something negative in our country?” Booker asked.
Pompeo said that his record was “exquisite” in respect to treating people of each and every faith with the dignity they deserve, to protect their right to practice their religion or no religion.
“I’ve heard these critics and you raised it yesterday. I have worked closely with Muslim leaders, with Muslim countries. The CIA has saved countless, thousands of Muslim lives during my 15 months.
“This is at the core of who I am Senator Booker. And I promise you that I will treat persons of each faith or no faith with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” Pompeo said.