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Paul's position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee could be critical to Pompeo's confirmation.

You discussed with Sen.

"I spoke with special counsel Mueller, who interviewed me", Pompeo said in his testimony before the committee, which is considering his nomination.

Since being nominated last month, Pompeo has spent much of his time at the State Department immersing himself in briefing books and undergoing mock hearings and prep meetings on key issues like Iran, Syria and North Korea, as well as the inner workings of the department, a person close to Pompeo said. In his opening statement, Mr. Pompeo signaled that he planned to harvest a forceful diplomacy.

"It is the last resort, it must always be so".

"I am not going to talk about private conversations I've had with the President", he said.

Evangelical Christian Pompeo, who said America had "endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle" began to reply, saying 'Senator, if I can?'

Two sitting senators and former Sen.

Mindful of Tillerson's reputation as a disengaged leader whose failure to fill critical positions at State alarmed lawmakers, Pompeo acknowledges he has heard firsthand from USA diplomats about "how demoralizing it is to have so many vacancies and, frankly, not to feel relevant".

Pompeo, who was confirmed for the CIA job by a 66-32 vote, developed a reputation for being more outwardly political than many past directors of the traditionally apolitical agency.

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"You don't create a special class of people in this country based upon their religion that have a special obligation to condemn terrorist attacks?"

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He said he was not advocating regime change in North Korea and that the administration would "continue to take real actions to push back" on Russian Federation to reset relations. "He's never asked me to do anything that I considered remotely improper". "And I'm here to tell you that he did exactly that".

He asked those on the committee to examine Mr. Pompeo's nomination on the merits alone.

"Will you champion our values when the president embraces dictators who quash the free press or suggest doing away with elections?" Pompeo responded that he thought Trump's course of action there has been the right one - that the US has the goal of leaving but can't do so until there is more stability in the country. Pompeo represented Kansas' 4th Congressional District from 2011-2017.

With that in mind, Democratic lawmakers like Sen.

Under questioning, he said he would be unlikely to resign as secretary of state if Trump were to fire Mueller.

"Prior to any committee vote, I also plan to submit further written questions for the record regarding Western Hemisphere issues including relations with Mexico, Cuba, and Colombia, along with questions regarding the need for an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force and the situation in Syria, foreign policy conflicts of interest raised by the president's family's overseas business ventures, and the State Department's role in the repatriation of sacred Native American artifacts being traded overseas like the Acoma Shield, which is still awaiting its return to the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico".

He added that the State department ought to be involved in combatting climate change's national security challenges, and that he didn't "take any fault" in commitments made in a report by the intelligence services earlier this year which warned of the threats of climate change.