Group of former national security officials endorse Pompeo to lead State

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Pompeo reportedly reached out to former Secretary of State John Kerry as well, though it is not clear if Kerry responded.

"Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy towards that aggression", Pompeo will say, according to excerpts released on the eve of his nomination hearing. But he will also say that diplomatic efforts with Moscow, while challenging, "must continue".

Perhaps Pompeo's biggest challenge will be making sure he stays on the same page as Trump, persuading senators that he can both live up to the principles he spells out and please the president, who frequently surprised - and criticized - Tillerson with tweets or policy prescriptions that differed from his top diplomat's. Pompeo plans to say.

Pompeo also stresses America's "duty to lead", despite Trump's own vows to put "America first".

Fifteen Senate Democrats backed Pompeo to be Central Intelligence Agency chief, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY and two members of the Foreign Relations Committee that will consider his nomination for secretary of state: Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

He added his views of Clinton to a report issued by the House Benghazi Committee that concluded she failed to provide adequate security at the US Embassy in Libya before it was attacked in September 2012. Recent reports show the State now has more unfilled positions requiring Senate confirmation than any other cabinet department.

"They also shared how demoralizing it is to have so many vacancies and, frankly, not to feel relevant", Pompeo will say.

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"I'll do my part to end the vacancies, but I'll need your help", Pompeo is expected to say in his opening remarks during Thursday's confirmation hearing.

Pompeo's questioning by senators comes amid spiraling tensions with Russian Federation over Syria and China over trade; concerns about the planned summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; and uncertainty over the administration's worldwide agenda.

"President Trump isn't one to play games at the negotiating table, and I won't be either", he plans to say. Democrats are anxious about Pompeo stoking Trump's pugilistic instincts, and at least one Republican, Sen.

On Iran, Pompeo will criticize Tehran's activities in the Middle East and pledge to work with USA allies to revise the nuclear deal clinched in 2015 between Iran and six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

"I assume by Thursday he'll get up to speed", Cardin told reporters. Rand Paul of Kentucky, has already announced he will oppose Pompeo's nomination.

In his testimony, Pompeo will list measures adopted by the administration against Russia, including sanctions and the expulsion last month of 60 Russian diplomats for an attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow.

At the State Department, the shake-up was met with a mixture of relief and trepidation. He developed a visibly close relationship with the president, traveling to the White House on most days to deliver the highly classified President's Daily Brief in person rather than leaving the task to other intelligence officials.

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