It is unclear if Senator Rand Paul got anything by flipping and voting in favor of the confirmation of war hawk Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.
The Washington Post notes:
“The president told me over and over again in general we’re getting the hell out of there,” Paul said in an interview Thursday in his Senate office. “I think the president’s instincts and inclination are to resolve the Afghan conflict.”...But WaPo also says:
The two men discussed no exit dates and did not strike a written agreement, as Trump urged Paul to meet one-on-one with Pompeo and ultimately secured the senator’s support ahead of a key Foreign Relations Committee vote that paved the way for confirmation.
It is unclear just how much Trump’s private conversations signal a public shift in policy or, rather, if they are just maneuvering by a famously transactional leader who often says what he needs to say to make a deal and then reverses himself.
Nonetheless, Trump’s talks with Paul reflect an area of growing tension between the president, whose instinct is to pull out from overseas entanglements, and his military, whose leaders argue that swift withdrawals would spark dangerous instability. In Afghanistan, one indication of the military’s nervousness is its eagerness to open peace talks with the Taliban and try to negotiate an end to the conflict.But this is the best part:
The Trump-Paul conversations also point to an effort by the dovish senator and former Trump rival, long treated by his party as a foreign policy gadfly, to assert influence over a president who chafes at being managed by his advisers and the Republican foreign policy establishment.
The White House is increasingly full of hawks, such as national security adviser John Bolton, whose views Paul has fiercely opposed. And Trump has long been courted by Paul’s foreign policy nemesis in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)...Rand probably won't have much impact on Trump but Trump is unpredictable and at least non-interventionists have Rand whispering in Trump's ear. Not a bad thing.
There are signs that Trump is increasingly coming around to Paul’s message on Afghanistan and a host of other foreign policy issues....
These days, he talks about Paul as a trusted friend, telling aides that on key votes, Paul “won’t let us down.” He has even praised the senator’s golf game.
Paul gets less-positive reviews from White House staffers, who grouse that he is a grandstander who causes them unnecessary headaches and hours of work. “If you think anyone in the White House has an ounce of clout with Rand Paul other than the president, you are wrong,” one White House official said. “There is not a single person who can take credit for having a conversation that was successful with Rand Paul except for POTUS.”