Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) on Wednesday released a statement explaining his opposition to Mike Pompeo's confirmation as secretary of state, invoking Pompeo not telling him about his secret meeting last week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that Pompeo—currently the CIA director—secretly met with Kim last week ahead of a planned summit between Trump and the young North Korean leader over potential denuclearization of his rogue country.
Explaining his opposition to Pompeo taking over the State Department, Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Pompeo's "past sentiments" do not reflect the nation's values and "the American people deserve better."
"Even in my private conversations with him, he didn't tell me about his visit to North Korea," Menendez said. "Now I don't expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open but I do expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks with committee leadership and is asked specific questions about North Korea, to share some insights about him."
Menendez seems VERY annoyed that Pompeo did not inform him of the DPRK meeting. pic.twitter.com/ChTZZ1dEmJ
— Mark Leon Goldberg (@MarkLGoldberg) April 18, 2018
I will cast a NO vote for Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) April 18, 2018
Menendez tells us that Pompeo was "less than forthcoming" to Senate Foreign Relations about his North Korea trip. And, he says, in breaking w tradition – should not be acting like Secretary of State before being confirmed. May call for a briefing with Pompeo before committee vote
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 18, 2018
In a series of tweets, Menendez also wrote critically about Pompeo's stances on the Iran nuclear deal, his positions on women's and LGBT rights, and him not being "forthcoming" about his role in the Russia investigation.
Menendez also voted against Pompeo for CIA director.
Fourteen Democrats voted in favor of Pompeo last year for CIA director, but he has lost the support of several of them in his nomination as secretary of state, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tim Kaine (Va.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).