Andrea Mitchell: We'll See if Pompeo Has 'Backbone' to Stand Up to Trump

March 13, 2018

MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday said if CIA Director Mike Pompeo is confirmed as secretary of state, she does not know if he will have the "backbone" to stand up to President Donald Trump.

Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be replaced by Pompeo, and Pompeo in turn will be replaced by CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel.

Mitchell extolled Pompeo's academic background at Harvard Law School and West Point before saying "we don't know " if he will have the "backbone" to stand up to Trump.

"Pompeo is a former member of Congress and a very smart one. He's a major player on the Benghazi hearings. He is a politician as well as having done a very good job arguably by all reports at the CIA, so there's two things here," Mitchell said. "He understands public advocacy. He will be much better at speaking in public, and doing television interviews, and talking to the press corps when it's a good purpose for the United States of America."

Mitchell praised Tillerson for standing up to the president on one hand, but said Tillerson "was never a good fit" at the State Department, having "talked down" and "patronized" Trump during his tenure.

"This man was honest. He wouldn't lie. He talked back to the President of the United Stated in ways that others did not and still do not," Mitchell said. "He did not believe in blowing up the Iran nuclear deal, but modifying it, fixing it if possible, so that they would not be sending a signal to North Korea and rogue players elsewhere in the world that doing a deal with the United States of America means that you cannot trust that it will be obeyed and lived up to."

"He didn't have the respect of others around the world because they knew that he didn't speak for the president," Mitchell added.