Foreign adversaries have taken note of widespread talk in Washington that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may leave his post to run for Senate in Kansas.
North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, issued a scathing statement targeting Pompeo on Friday claiming the Kansan’s political aspirations are impeding U.S. diplomacy.
“He sure seems to be more interested in realizing his future ‘political ambition’ rather than the current foreign policy of the U.S.,” the North Korean official stated. “All things into which Pompeo thrusts himself go wrong and end up in failure.”
Ri sharpened his criticisms of Pompeo in recent weeks after calling on President Donald Trump to appoint a new emissary for nuclear talks between the two nations back in April. The foreign ministry has also called Pompeo a “poisonous plant” and “gangster-like” — an effort to goad him and create friction between the secretary and the president, according to U.S. officials.
But the North Korean reference to Pompeo’s political ambitions indicates that a steady drumbeat of rumors around the secretary’s political plans have caught the attention of foreign counterparts.
Pompeo has told reporters that he will stay in his current role as long as Trump wants him to serve, and twice said in interviews that a Senate run next year is “off the table.” But frequent trips to Kansas and conversations with significant political players and donors in the state have fueled continued questions.
Technically, Pompeo has time to decide whether to mount a run: the filing deadline is June 2020. But other Republican candidates vying for the Senate nomination want him to decide sooner rather than later in order to set the field for donors and voters.
The State Department declined to comment.