WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might leave the State Department to run for a Senate seat in Kansas.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said Pompeo – a former House member – might resume his political career if he feels a Republican cannot win a Kansas Senate seat that is open in 2020.
“If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that,” Trump said.
While Pompeo “has done an incredible job” at the State Department, Trump added that “Mike would win easily in Kansas. Great state. And it’s a Trump state. He’d win easily.”
It might be an awkward time for Pompeo to launch an election campaign.
Just this week, Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, testified that Pompeo was “in the loop” on the campaign to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 president election.
Sondland described that as a clear “quid pro quo” and said Pompeo was kept apprised of the effort.
“We kept the leadership of the State Department and the NSC (National Security Council) informed of our activities,” Sondland said. “They knew what we were doing and why,” the EU ambassador said.
Pompeo denied wrongdoing.
Pompeo listened in on the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and has publicly defended the conversation as “wholly appropriate,” arguing that Trump was pushing to root out corruption in Ukraine.
Pompeo sought to block some State Department witnesses from testifying in the impeachment inquiry, with little success. He has also refused to comply with the House Democrats’ subpoena for documents related to the State Department’s actions on Ukraine and its dealings with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and a key player in pressuring Ukraine’s new government.
It’s unclear if the impeachment scandal would hurt Pompeo’s prospects in Kansas, which has been a GOP stronghold but now has a Democratic governor.
If Pompeo leaves the administration, it would be a major blow to Trump – particularly as his presidency is engulfed in an impeachment investigation that prominently features foreign policy. Pompeo is Trump’s second secretary of state and succeeded Rex Tillerson in the post.
Pompeo has staunchly defended Trump’s actions on Ukraine, even as his State Department employees provided damaging testimony.
While Pompeo has publicly denied interest in the Kansas Senate race, he has repeatedly returned to the state and nurtured his political connections there.
Pompeo, who represented Kansas in the House for three terms before joining the Trump administration, is one of the president’s longest-serving and most trusted advisers. He joined the Trump administration early, becoming the president’s CIA director three days after his inauguration.
Pompeo then took the helm at the State Department in April of 2018, and he has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders amid a series of foreign policy crises – from Afghanistan to North Korea to Syria.
The filing deadline for the Senate race is not until June, giving Pompeo time to contemplate a bid. He still has a congressional fundraising account, with nearly $1 million in the bank, according to the most recent federal campaign finance report.