In his conversation with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out that he does not plan to run for a Senate seat in Kansas in 2020, Reuters cited unnamed sources as saying.
“[Senate majority] Leader McConnell believes Secretary Pompeo is doing an incredible job as secretary of state and is exactly where the country needs him to be right now,” one source said.
Pompeo has time to change his mind, given that the filing deadline for the Kansas primary is not until June, according to sources.
His reported move comes a few days after the US drone strike which killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force. The hit was authorised by President Donald Trump.
The sources claimed in this context that Pompeo’s alleged decision not to take part in the Senate elections may be linked to the latest developments in Iran, which pledged to respond in kind to Soleimani’s killing.
The Washington Post, in turn, quoted US officials as saying that Pompeo was instrumental in getting Trump to sign off on the 3 January drone strike that killed Soleimani along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Pompeo also pledged that the US will respond with lawful strikes against those decision-makers who have been orchestrating attacks on American targets.
In a separate development in late December, the Washington Post reported that US President Donald Trump is ostensibly searching for a candidate to replace Pompeo if he decides to step down in order to take part in the Kansas elections.
Despite the fact that Trump said in November that Pompeo had told him that he didn't intend to resign, POTUS “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 Washington Post quoted sources as saying.
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, such as National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and State Department envoy to Iran Brian Hook, 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”, according to the sources.
Trump announced his decision to nominate then-CIA director Pompeo for the post of Secretary of State in March 2018, expressing hope that he would do “a fantastic job”.