Posts tagged with "Mike Pompeo"

Trump intended to fire Esper over troops dispute

June 11, 2020

Only “yes men” get tenure in the Trump White House. President Donald Trump last week was on the verge of firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper—who has held his position officially for less than one year—over their differing views about domestic use of active-duty military. However, advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked him out of it, according to several officials who talked exclusively to The Wall Street Journal.

The officials said that Trump was furious with Esper for not supporting his intent to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

The discord surfaced, the Journal said, when Esper said on June 3 that he didn’t think using federal troops in American streets was warranted at that time. The comments, made in an opening statement at a news conference at the Pentagon, echoed his remarks the night before in an NBC interview. The news conference comments weren’t vetted beforehand by the White House, and the statement caught officials there off guard, two officials said.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort,” the defense secretary said at that time. “And only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.”

The disagreement between the two reflected the extent of differences on the issue of active-duty troops between the president and the Pentagon, where military and defense leaders were adamantly opposed to deploying federal forces to contain protesters as fundamentally at odds with military values.

A decision to fire the Pentagon chief that day also would have meant a major shake-up in the administration amid one of the biggest security crises of Trump’s presidency, the Journal noted.

The president asked several advisers for their opinion of the disagreement, with the objective that day of removing Esper, his fourth defense secretary, according to the officials. After talks with the advisers, who cautioned against the move, Trump set aside the plans to immediately fire Esper, the Journal reports.

At the same time, however, Esper, who was well aware of  the president’s feelings, was making his own preparations to resign—partly in frustration over the differences regarding the role of the military, the officials said. He had begun to prepare a letter of resignation before he was persuaded not to do so by aides and other advisers, according to some of the officials.

As advisers scrambled to avert the upheaval, Trump’s June 1 threat to send military forces into American cities emerged as a flashpoint, provoking national debate and drawing condemnation from onetime Trump aides.

Approximately 1,600 federal troops brought to the Washington, D.C., area were at that time poised for possible deployment in what was widely seen as a crossroads for the United States.

The officials said that President Trump and White House officials also were perturbed by Mr. Esper’s public comments indicating he didn’t know that a June 1 walk by. Trump and an entourage of officials that included Esper was set up for the purpose of taking photographs by a church near the White House that had been damaged in violence. Security forces including the National Guard forcibly removed protesters to allow for the photo session.

Advisers consulted by Mr. Trump that day included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; longtime Trump friend and outside adviser David Urban; and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), the officials said.

Research contact: @wsjournal

Republican group pummels Trump with derogatory ad: ‘What Is He Afraid Of?’

December 2, 2019

Republicans for the Rule of Law—a nonprofit group of lifelong conservative GOP members who are “dedicated to defending the institutions of our republic”— has called out President Donald Trump with a critical TV ad.

In its new 32-second clip released online November 27, The Huffington Post reports, the group questions the White House’s refusal to allow key witnesses in the Ukraine scandal to testify before Congress in the impeachment inquiry that targets Trump.

“These witnesses must testify,” the voiceover says, referring to a lineup of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, along with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

“What is Trump afraid of?” the narrator adds.

The ad is slated to air on Fox News’ flagship morning show “Fox & Friends” for several days after Thanksgiving.

Republicans for the Rule of Law Executive Director Sarah Longwell said in a statement that the House impeachment hearings “have presented startling evidence” that Trump “abused his power, strong-arming a foreign government to interfere on his behalf in the upcoming election, and damaging national security in the process.”

“The president denies the allegations, but won’t let key administration officials― including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney―testify to Congress,” Longwell added. “If the president did nothing wrong, what does he have to hide? If they tell the truth, what is he afraid of? Most importantly, will Republicans in Congress allow the president to simply ignore their constitutionally mandated oversight role?”

According to the HuffPost, the group last week launched a campaign that aimed to educate GOP voters―who polls have shown remain steadfast in their support of Trump―on the facts of the Ukraine scandal that prompted the impeachment inquiry.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Public supports North Korea summit, but isn’t hoping for results

April 19, 2018

As unconfirmed Secretary of State candidate (and former CIA chief) Mike Pompeo returns from a secret visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, most Americans are torn between not wanting to confer legitimacy on the Hermit State and wanting President Donald Trump to follow up with an upcoming summit, based on findings of a Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,002 U.S. adults released on April 17.

Over half (56%) say Trump should hold a summit meeting with Kim to try to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. A smaller number (36%) say the meeting should not be held because it would give Kim validity while his government allegedly violates international law.

Three in 10 Americans think it is likely the meeting will lead to an agreement for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, but two-thirds of the public say that is unlikely—including 42% who say it is “very unlikely”—the Post-ABC poll finds.

Trump and Kim have traded vague threats of using a “nuclear button,” but, by a margin of nearly two to one, Americans say Trump should not threaten U.S. military action against North Korea if it doesn’t give up its nuclear weapons.

There are modest partisan differences on support for holding a summit, with 70% of Republicans expressing support for the meeting while 46% percent of Democrats and 56% of Independents saying the same. But majorities across partisan lines find it unlikely the meeting will lead to an agreement for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, including 77% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 58% of Republicans.

Research contact: emily.guskin@washpost.com