For­mer CIA chief Pom­peo’s firm Rus­sia stance likely to change,

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Anita Ku­mar and Lind­say Wise McClatchy Wash­ing­ton Bureau

WASH­ING­TON — Mike Pom­peo, the man tapped by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to be the next sec­re­tary of state, has en­gaged in tough talk about Rus­sia, long be­fore the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

As a Kansas con­gress­man, Pom­peo said that the United States and its al­lies should ex­ploit Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s weak­nesses and en­act sanc­tions “to keep him in his box.”

As CIA di­rec­tor, Pom­peo said there’s “a long his­tory of Rus­sian ef­forts to in­flu­ence the United States and con­duct in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions against the United States.”

Now, as he looks to serve as the na­tion’s top diplo­mat fol­low­ing the abrupt ouster of Rex Tiller­son on Tues­day, Pom­peo will face his big­gest test: Can he stand up to Trump on Rus­sia?

“He’s made some good state­ments on Rus­sia and ac­knowl­edg­ing the ob­vi­ous that they were in­volved and I’m anx­ious to see if he sticks to those views,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Trump has been crit­i­cized by Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike for speak­ing out about his ad­mi­ra­tion for Putin and re­peat­edly re­ject­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s anal­y­sis of Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence inthe 2016pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. And he has blasted spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions that his cam­paign col­luded with the Krem­lin dur­ing the elec­tion.

Some Democrats praised Pom­peo’ s long stand­ing views on Rus­sia on Tues­day but wor­ried that he won’t stand fi­firm as he be­comes one of Trump’s top aides.

“Till er son’ s suc­ces­sor must ap­proach the grave threat of Rus­sian for­eign ag­gres­sion with the se­ri­ous­ness and ur­gency that it de­mands,” House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said.

Mike Car­pen­ter, a for­mer se­nior Rus­sia spe­cial­ist at the Pen­tagon dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, said that while Pom­peo has been crit­i­cal of Rus­sia’s ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior ,“his loy­alty lies first and fore­most with Trump.”

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