- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2019

President Trump on Sunday said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is doing a splendid job and is not preparing to depart so he can launch a 2020 Senate bid, despite pressure from GOP leaders to do exactly that.

Mr. Pompeo is a former congressman who replaced Rex Tillerson as Mr. Trump’s secretary of state in spring 2018.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly approached Mr. Pompeo about running for a seat that will open up when Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas retires after his current term.

Mr. Trump said Mr. McConnell may have spoken to his secretary but that Mr. Pompeo isn’t going anywhere.

“He’s doing a fantastic job. And I asked him the question the other day, he says he’s absolutely not leaving,” Mr. Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation. “I don’t think he’d do that. And he doesn’t want to be lame duck.”

Mr. Pompeo has a lot on his plate at the State Department, from negotiating sensitive meetings with North Korea to leading the U.S.’s withdrawal from an international nuclear treaty that dates from the Cold War, saying Russian has “shamelessly” violated it.

His departure would leave Mr. Trump with yet another position in flux. His chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is serving in an interim role and his attorney general and defense secretary are serving in an “acting” capacity after the departures of Jeff Sessions and James Mattis.

Mr. Trump argued people serving in acting roles are more flexible, allowing him to move briskly, and he has no qualms about nudging out Cabinet secretaries when the job “doesn’t get done.”

He insisted that’s what happened with Mr. Mattis, even though the former defense secretary submitted a resignation letter in late December that suggested the president was abandoning U.S. allies through withdrawal orders in Syria and Afghanistan.

“Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mr. Mattis wrote at the time.

Mr. Trump on Sunday offered a different version, claiming he forced Mr. Mattis to “give me a letter.”

“He resigned because I asked him to resign,” Mr. Trump told CBS, saying he wasn’t happy with Mr. Mattis’ performance in Afghanistan and Syria. “I was not happy with him, but I wish him well.”

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