Moments after Donald Trump offered the Attorney General spot to senator Jeff Sessions (which he promptly accepted), it was announced that Trump had also picked rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director, who likewise accepted.
The selection of Pompeo, a three-term Republican from Wichita, started earlier this week when he met with Donald Trump, according to the president-elect’s transition team. Now we know what the meetings were about. Courtesy of McClatchy, here is profile of the new director of America’s top spy agency:
Pompeo originally supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. Like most of his Kansas colleagues, Pompeo backed Trump when it was clear the New York real-estate developer would become the Republican presidential nominee, though not enthusiastically.
But Pompeo was close to Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who served with Pompeo in the House. Last month, Pompeo helped prepare Pence for the vice presidential debate with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.
The most prominent Kansas elected official to endorse Trump early on was Secretary of State Kris Kobach, now a member of the Trump transition team and a possible candidate for U.S. Attorney General.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and recently defeated Rep. Tim Huelskamp are both potential picks for agriculture secretary.
Pompeo is a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
He’s a supporter of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk data collection program and sought to restore the agency’s access to the data it had already collected under the Patriot Act from its inception through late last year.
He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Harvard Law School. He’s also a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pompeo, who grew up in the traditionally Republican enclave of Orange County, California, founded Thayer Aerospace, a company that made parts for commercial and military aircraft. After selling Thayer, he became president of Sentry International, a company that manufactures and sells equipment used in oil fields.
He was elected to Congress in 2010 on a wave of tea party support and with backing from the Koch Industries political action committee. The Wichita-based conglomerate’s PAC is well known for its support of conservative candidates.
Though Pompeo is generally known for his opposition to Obama administration policies, he’s occasionally given heat to some fellow Republicans. Last year, his name was floated as a potential rival to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to become House speaker.
Earlier this year, he briefly flirted with a primary challenge to Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran after the state’s junior senator appeared to break with Senate Republican opposition to Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.
Joe Romance, an associate professor of political science at Fort Hays State University, said it makes sense for Pompeo to consider a job in the executive branch, given the way the stage is set from Kansas to Washington in the next several years.
“He’s ambitious,” Romance said. “Jerry Moran just got reelected. Roberts is not up until 2020. So where do you need to move? And I don’t think Ryan’s going anywhere as speaker. So why not?”
Pompeo has sponsored numerous bills that would maintain or increase sanctions on Iran over its nuclear weapons program. He’s been a staunch opponent of the deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that eases sanctions in exchange for dismantling the nuclear weapons program.
In February, Pompeo and two of his Republican House colleagues unsuccessfully sought visas to monitor the country’s elections.
When Iran detained a group of American sailors earlier whose ship had wandered into its territorial waters earlier this year, Pompeo introduced a bill requiring the Obama administration to investigate whether Iran violated the Geneva Convention. It didn’t become law. The sailors were not harmed, and the Navy later concluded that the sailors had entered Iran’s waters by mistake.
Pompeo has served on the House Select Benghazi Committee.
The special panel was created in 2014 to probe the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. One of its key targets was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on whose watch the attack had occurred.
When the committee released its report on the attack in June, Pompeo and Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio released a separate report that was even more sharply critical of Clinton’s handling of the affair. They wrote that Clinton intentionally misled Americans about the nature of the attack because Obama was up for re-election.
“Officials at the State Department, including Secretary Clinton, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” Pompeo and Jordan wrote. “With the presidential election just 56 days away, rather than tell the American people the truth and increase the risk of losing an election, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”
Pompeo has made some controversial statements about Muslims. Weeks after the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, in a speech on the House floor, he not only accused Islamic faith leaders of not doing enough to condemn terrorist attacks, but also suggested they might be encouraging them.
“When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith, and are performed in the name of that faith, a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith,” Pompeo said. “Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and more importantly still, in those that may well follow.”
But last month, three militiamen were arrested in western Kansas in an alleged plot to blow up an apartment complex that’s home to Somali Muslim refugees.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said statements like Pompeo’s were detrimental to policies that keep all Americans safe.
“We believe it’s counterproductive to our nation’s safety and security because they will act based on their faulty perceptions of Muslims and Islam,” Hooper said, “and will not carry out policies based on accurate and balanced information.”
by Tyler Durden