US President Donald Trump is already searching for a candidate for the post of Secretary of State in order to fill the role if Mike Pompeo moves to resign in order to take part in the Kansas US Senate election, The Washington Post cited unnamed sources as saying on Friday.
They claimed that despite the fact that Trump said in November that Pompeo had told him that he didn't intend to step down, the US President “hedged by saying that if there’s any danger the GOP could lose that seat, Pompeo might change his mind and ‘would win in a landslide because they love him in Kansas’.”
The sources also pointed to Pompeo allegedly “sending mixed signals”, including his decision to unveil a new personal Twitter account "with Kansas farmland in the banner photo".
All this uncertainty prompted a number of politicians to quietly start positioning themselves for the job of secretary of state, while Trump, “not knowing how it will turn out, has been tossing around names for Pompeo’s successor with lawmakers and officials”.
One source argued that “the person most often mentioned to succeed Pompeo is national security adviser Robert O’Brien”.
“Trump really likes O’Brien, several officials told me, and has given him increased diplomatic responsibilities since he became the president’s fourth national security adviser in September. O’Brien stood in for Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Thailand in October. He accompanied Vice President Pence and Pompeo to Turkey to negotiate a Syria cease-fire,” the source pointed out.
Another main contender is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who is “simply in contention but not actively lobbying”, the sources said, adding that many US national security officials are alarmed about the fact that Mnuchin’s “dovish position on China and his Wall Street focus could undermine his fitness to lead US diplomacy”.
Two other candidates include Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and newly-nominated Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who the sources claimed “would become acting secretary of state, at least for a while, if Pompeo departs”.
Also on the list are State Department envoy to Iran Brian Hook, as well as Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton, who “both have presidential aspirations” which could be supported by their serving as secretary of state.
“That brings us back to Pompeo, who is keeping us all in suspense. Does he really want to go from being secretary of state to a position as the junior senator from Kansas? If he is going to run for president on his diplomatic record, might he not want to stay another year and finish the job?” the sources concluded, referring to Pompeo’s drive to run for presidency in 2024.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
In March 2018, Trump announced his decision to nominate then CIA director Pompeo for the post of Secretary of State, expressing hope that he would do “a fantastic job”.