We’re Putting Pressure on the Senate Committee to Ask Pompeo the Tough Questions

  • April 11, 2018

“Mr. Pompeo’s long, documented record of anti-Muslim prejudice threatens to undermine the essential work our Secretary of State does in representing American interests and values abroad,” – ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

In advance of the Senate confirmation hearings for Mike Pompeo, the President’s nominee for Secretary of State, ADL sent a letter urging all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to closely examine Pompeo’s views, given his past statements and close ties to stridently anti-Muslim groups.

The letter cites Pompeo’s past anti-Muslim statements and his associations with organizations that have frequently expressed hostility toward Muslims and trafficked in anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.  We call on the committee members to ask Pompeo tough questions to see where he stands on Muslims in America and America’s policy priorities, including promotion and protection of human rights abroad.

While we agree with some of Pompeo’s positions on Israel, that certainly should not make him immune from hard questions about his fitness to serve based on his full record.

“As America’s top diplomat, the Secretary of State must be prepared to faithfully represent the United States in building international partnerships and coalitions and negotiating delicate treaties and agreements,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in the letter, which was made public on Tuesday.

“In our view, it is essential for the nominee to repudiate his past anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim views and to renounce any associations with anti-Muslim conspiracy-haunted organizations,” Greenblatt said. 

We cited a number of anti-Muslim statements made by Pompeo in the past, as well as his association with anti-Muslim activists such as Frank Gaffney, who hosted him many times and honored him at his think tank, the Center for Security Policy. The letter also cites Pompeo’s longtime association with Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT for America, an organization that peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Pompeo accepted the organization’s America’s National Security Eagle Award in 2016.

We called on the committee raise the following questions concerning Pompeo’s anti-Muslim statements and associations:

  • Do you disavow the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric of groups with whom you have previously had connections, such as the Center for Security Policy and ACT for America?
  • Will you commit to never holding an official meeting as Secretary of State with Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel and other individuals who have espoused hateful views of Islam and Muslims?
  • Do you believe that extremism is a fundamental element of traditional Muslim religious belief? Will you affirm that Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of American Muslims, is fundamentally compatible with democracy and commit to not calling this affirmation into question in the future?
  • Do you believe that a network of Muslims in the United States is attempting to impose Shariah law over American citizens, or to create a caliphate in our country? Do you believe that American Muslims are waging a cultural “jihad” to infiltrate and/or undermine American political and social institutions?
  • Do you repudiate your suggestion to “pull from the streets” American Muslims who aspire to discuss their faith publicly? Can you affirm that all Muslims have the right to express their religious beliefs without government interference? 
  • Will you disavow your repeated insinuation that non-Muslims should fear the intentions of their Muslim neighbors, and will you commit to not spreading that calumny again?
  • There are many State Department employees who identify as Muslim Americans.  How would you plan to assure them that they will not be discriminated against during your tenure?

Our letter also raises concerns about Pompeo’s anti-LGBTQ record, and urges the committee to ensure that Pompeo is committed to filling the congressionally-mandated State Department position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as quickly as possible. The position has remained vacant throughout the Trump administration, despite rising anti-Semitism and assurances by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that it would be filled promptly.

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