Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed with a suggestion posed in an interview Thursday that it’s possible God raised Donald Trump to be President in order to protect Israel from Iran.
In an interview in Jerusalem, the Christian Broadcast Network’s Chris Mitchell asked Pompeo, “could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” Esther is the main heroine of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which was celebrated this week.
“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo added that he is “confident that the Lord is at work here” when he sees the “remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains.”
The remarks came shortly after Trump announced that the US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, overturning longstanding US policy toward the area, which was seized from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former State Department spokesman who is now a CNN military and diplomatic analyst, blasted Pompeo over the remarks.
“Secretary Pompeo’s assertion that President Trump may have been sent by God to save Israel would be laughable on its face if it weren’t yet another indication that our Secretary of State recklessly crosses the line that should exist between church and state,” Kirby said. “The very idea that there is something biblical to the conduct of diplomacy – that foreign policy is some sort of evangelical endeavor and that the American president is the champion of Judeo-Christian values alone – gives comfort to extremists who see the West as crusaders and unease to those who look to the United States as the protector of both religious and civic freedom. What he said is not only embarrassing; it’s dangerous and irresponsible.”
Pompeo is not the first prominent Trump administration official to suggest that God wanted the New York real estate mogul to become president. In January, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CBN, “that’s why he’s there.”
Pompeo on Thursday also used the interview to weigh in on domestic politics and the controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whose recent criticism of Israel and US policy toward the Jewish state has been criticized as anti-Semitic.
“The rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and in Europe and in, frankly, all across the world is something that is deeply troubling, and to see someone – a duly elected congressman – behave in that way, to speak about anti-Semitism in that way, is of great concern. It’s a great concern to me,” said Pompeo, who made similar remarks in Jerusalem a day earlier.
In Thursday’s interview, Pompeo did not address accusations that the Trump administration itself has previously demonstrated insensitivity toward anti-Semitism, most notably the President’s tepid response to the white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, that were marked by chants of “Jews will not replace us.”
Pompeo traveled to Jerusalem this week as part of a larger tour of the Middle East. During his visit, he visited the Western Wall with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing re-election next month. Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the United States and meet with Trump next week.
Pompeo continues his overseas travels with a visit to Lebanon on Friday.
CNN’s Michelle Kosinski and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.