Pompeo defends Trump on Russian Federation, won't talk about Mueller

Senator Chris Coons sits at a Parkland shooting hearing

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"Senator, I continue to hold that view", Pompeo confirmed.

Mr Pompeo said Russia's push into Ukraine and other countries needed to be curbed.

In the hearing Thursday, Pompeo disclosed that he had spoken to Mueller as part of the law enforcement investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, though he declined to discuss the actual subject matter of that interview while the probe is ongoing. But he wouldn't answer questions about the contents of the interview, arguing it would be improper since, as CIA director in charge of overseas intelligence gathering, he has been a "participant" in Mueller's probe.

Booker continued to grill Pompeo on this point, but the secretary of state nominee refused to answer.

USA secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo has promised that he will be willing to break from President Donald Trump if necessary, saying he will take a tough line on Russian Federation and wants to "fix" the Iran nuclear deal.

Booker specifically asked Pompeo if he had ever condemned Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim extremist who has said that Muslims who "abide by the adherence of their faith should be tried for acts of sedition and should be prosecuted". Instead, Pompeo responded to the criticism by saying repeatedly that his record at the Central Intelligence Agency and elsewhere proves he treats everyone equally and with respect, regardless of religion, gender or sexual orientation.

He sought to pre-empt concerns about Trump's apparent unwillingness to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin directly. "What did President Trump say to you and Director Coats in that meeting?"

He also vowed to continue "to take real actions to push back, to reset the deterrence relationship with respect to Russian Federation". Still, he affirmed that he won't support staying in over the long term unless more restrictions are placed on Tehran.

If confirmed by the Senate, Pompeo said he would bolster the Iran nuclear deal, adding that fixing the 2015 agreement is in the US' best interest.

President Donald Trump has nominated Pompeo to become Washington's top diplomat and his confirmation hearing came just as the White House mulls a strike to punish Assad for an alleged chemical attack.

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