President Donald Trump provided a clear path recently for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come back to Kansas and run for the Senate.
“He loves the people of Kansas,” the president said of Pompeo in a phone interview on Fox News. “If he thought that there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that, and he would win in a landslide because they love him in Kansas.”
Other published reports have suggested Pompeo is nearing a decision on the race.
Some Kansans are tiring of Pompeo’s Hamlet-like approach to the Senate seat, which belongs to them, not to any party or any person. His indecision alone could spark skepticism about his commitment to the state.
But there are now other reasons to question the secretary. It’s clear Pompeo was intimately involved in the arms-for-investigations impeachment inquiry now engulfing Trump.
On Wednesday, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said Pompeo knew of negotiations with Ukranians to trade a White House visit for an investigation of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
There is also evidence that military aid to Ukraine was delayed in an effort to pressure its new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Biden and Ukraine’s unsubstantiated role in the 2016 campaign.
Former National Security Council analyst Fiona Hill called the scheme a “domestic political errand.” Kansans and all Americans now know Pompeo was a key errand boy for the president.
More evidence may be forthcoming. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton recently mysteriously urged Americans to “stay tuned” for a “backstory.” Bolton and Pompeo feuded for months, and more details about that dispute may be revealed in the weeks ahead.
When reporters asked Pompeo about the impeachment hearings and Sondland’s testimony, they hit a dead end. “I didn’t see a single thing today. I was working,” the secretary of state said. “Sounds like you might not have been.”
Mike Pompeo should have no illusions. He can’t resign and return to Kansas and refuse to answer questions about his role in these events or his relationship with Trump. Kansans, regardless of party, will not support a candidate who puts the president’s political interests, or his own, above the nation’s.
Kansas is not a consolation prize. It’s not a fallback position or a Plan B. It isn’t a reset button. Kansas voters are as smart and as engaged as any in the nation.
Pompeo shouldn’t get a pass simply because he served in the Cabinet. While he is still viewed by many party leaders as Republicans’ best bet to hold onto Sen. Pat Roberts’ seat, Pompeo would enter a crowded GOP primary with a long list of tough questions to answer. Republicans will want to hear from the secretary’s opponents, and all Kansans will want a full debate if Pompeo is the GOP nominee.
The president has opened the door, Mr. Secretary. Come back to Kansas, if you want. But be prepared to explain yourself.
Kansas City Star