Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slithered into the Senate today to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was confronted about the Trump administration’s many questionable foreign policy moves including the dismissal of career diplomats and the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany.
While Pompeo was deflecting questions about his conduct and questionable moves at the State Department, Donald Trump was busy tweeting to the world, wondering if the November election should be delayed. Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine used his time to ask Pompeo about Trump’s tweet and whether he believes Donald Trump could delay the election. Pompeo replied, “Senator, i’m not going enter a legal judgment on that on the fly this morning.”
Kaine did not let go and noted Pompeo is a Harvard Law School grad who was on the Harvard Law Review, and questioned why he was struggling to answer such a basic legal question with a very clear answer: The president absolutely positively does not have that power. When Kaine kept pressing for an answer, Pompeo said, “Senator, in the end the Department of Justice and others will make that legal determination. We all should want—I know you do too, Senator Kaine, want an election everyone is confident in.”
Do you feel confident in Mike Pompeo’s response? I don’t. And for the record, only Congress has the power to set the election date. Mike Pompeo, a former member of Congress, undoubtedly knows that, too.
Kaine: In the last 24 hours we passed 150,000 deaths in this country to coronavirus. In my view and I think in the view of many, a sizable percentage of those were preventable had the United States handled the pandemic better. This morning the Department of Commerce indicated that the economy, because of COVID, shrunk at the greatest rate ever recorded in history in the second quarter of the year.
And then this morning the president is suggesting that the presidential election should be delayed. And I sort of want to start there. This is not something either you or I were prepared to talk about today because I think it happened in the middle of the hearing. The president sent out a tweet that said, quote, “delay the election until people can properly, securely, and safely go,” question mark. Not saying it will happen but raising a question. Can a president delay the November presidential election, Mr. Secretary?
Pompeo: Senator, I’m not going enter a legal judgment on that on the fly this morning.
Kaine: Mr. Secretary, you are an honors graduate of West Point. You are a graduate of the Harvard Law School. You were on the Harvard Law Review. I was at Harvard Law School and I went to a lot of Red Sox games, I wasn’t on the Harvard Law Review.
Pompeo: Very kind of you.
Kaine: You are one of the most highly trained and accomplished lawyers who are part of this administration. Can a president delay a presidential election?
Pompeo: Senator, in the end the Department of Justice and others will make that legal determination. We all should want—I know you do too, Senator Kaine, want an election everyone is confident in.
Kaine: Are you indifferent to the date of the election?
Pompeo: It should happen lawfully.
Kaine: It should happen lawfully. So for the record because you may not want to comment on it, but I do think it’s important: A president cannot delay an election. The day of the election was established by Congress. It was established in 1845. There’s no ability for a president to delay an election, and I don’t think it’s that hard a question or one that should lead to any equivocation by someone who’s fourth in line of succession to be president of the United States.