It’s not often you hear a comeback worthy of a mic-drop on the Senate floor, but last Friday was an exception.
To give some background, Mike Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director by a 66-32 vote on Monday. There was some controversy because Pompeo was expected to be confirmed before President Trump took office on Friday. It’s standard practice to have those in national security posts confirmed before the transition of power on Inauguration Day. By Friday afternoon, however, Gen. James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) and Gen. John Kelly (Secretary of Homeland Security) were confirmed, while Pompeo was not.
The delay is due to Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, who failed to include Pompeo in their group of nominees to confirm by Friday afternoon (as they’d promised). According to the Weekly Standard:
On January 19, one day before Trump’s inauguration, [Oregon Democratic Sen.] Ron Wyden said he’d seek to delay Pompeo’s confirmation when the Senate convened late Friday afternoon. That evening Tom Cotton, who is close to Pompeo from their time together in the House of Representatives, began calling his colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Wyden, seeking to avoid the delay. Some of the calls were cordial. Others were testy.
The Senate reconvened after the inaugural ceremonies on Friday, with Pompeo’s nomination set to come up at 4:50pm. Cotton angrily confronted Schumer about his broken promise. According to witnesses, Schumer told Cotton to lower his voice and asked him move off of the Senate floor to an adjacent hallway for a private discussion. “We need to take this out into the hallway,” Schumer said. Cotton walked with Schumer but loudly rejected his first request. “Don’t tell me to lower my voice!” he shouted, with an additional salty admonition tacked on for emphasis. Burr and Cornyn were present, as was Senator Mark Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and several aides.
It was at that point when Schumer told Cotton, that if he had been around eight years prior, he would’ve known that Republicans didn’t confirm Obama’s CIA director nominee by the 2009 inauguration. That prompted Cotton’s epic response: “Eight years ago, I was getting my ass shot at in Afghanistan, so don’t talk to me about where I was eight years ago.”
[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]