Donald Trump picked Mike Pompeo of Kansas for the job as CIA director and will have to follow in the footsteps of John Brennan. On January 23, the Senate voted to confirm Pompeo as the new chief of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Reuters first reported that Pompeo was offered the job. Later, the Trump team issued a statement confirming Pompeo’s hiring.
Pompeo’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was on January 11. That was the same day as Trump’s planned press conference and the same day Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos will have their confirmation hearings.
Pompeo was born in Orange, California, but lives in Wichita, Kansas and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. The 52-year-old Harvard Law School graduate was elected into office in 2010, as part of the Tea Party wave. Since then, he has been critical of the Obama Administration and supported the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Pompeo has also called Obamacare a “train wreck.”
The Republican issued a statement, confirming his appointment.
“I am honored and humbled to accept the President-elect’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency,” he wrote. “This was a difficult decision. I have genuinely loved representing the people of Kansas in Congress—working to make our community stronger and more prosperous. But ultimately the opportunity to lead the world’s finest intelligence warriors, who labor tirelessly to keep this nation and Kansas safe, is a call to service I cannot ignore.”
Although Pompeo will lead the agency that reportedly believes Russia’s intervention in the 2016 Presidential Election was motivated by a desire to see Trump become president, Pompeo has not commented on the report. On December 9, The Washington Post reported that a secret CIA assessment concluded that Russia wanted to see Trump win the Oval Office.
Pompeo is married to Susan Pompeo and they have one son, Nicholas.
Here’s a look at Pompeo’s life and career in Congress.
1. Pompeo Wrote a Column in 2013 Declaring Obamacare a ‘Train Wreck’ & Called on Democrats Who Don’t Support It to Help Repeal It
In September 2013, Pompeo wrote a blistering column for USA Today on the Affordable Care Act, calling it a “train wreck.” He called on Democrats who predicted that it would be difficult to implement the law to join Republicans in repealing it.
Republicans have stood against this law not only because of its cost, though already costs for the health insurance exchanges are nearly double what was originally proposed. We opposed it because it will harm Americans. This law raises premiums, lowers the quality of care, increases taxes and jeopardizes the insurance Americans were promised they could keep. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), echoed these concerns when he noted that the law would increase premiums for the young.
Pompeo particularly seized upon former Montana Senator Max Baucus’ April 2013 comment to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he thinks the law was heading for a “train wreck” because of
The Kansas Republican published a letter he wrote to Baucus, in which he told Baucus that, “No one in the country bears more responsibility for the complexity of this law than you.”
2. Pompeo Defended the NSA’s Surveillance Program & Called Edward Snowden a ‘Traitor’
Pompeo has defended the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to the point that he wants to see them resume.
In 2015, he introduced the Liberty Through Strength Act, which would give the NSA access to “certain business records” collected using the Patriot Act.
The bill would also give the FBI more access to communication records that are “relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such an investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
While on C-SPAN in February 2016, Pompeo referred to Edward Snowden as a “traitor” and suggested that he get the death sentence.
“He should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo said. “Having put friends of mine, friends of yours who serve in the military today an enormous risk because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers.”
3. Pompeo Was a Member of the Benghazi Committee & Said Clinton ‘Failed to Lead’ in His Report
Pompeo was a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi and was critical of Hillary Clinton’s handling of the situation at the U.S. diplomatic mission on September 11, 2012. Pompeo even issued additional comments on the attacks after the Republican members of the committee issued their report. Representative Jim Jordan joined Pompeo in going even further with the critique of Clinton’s performance.
In one part of their additional views, they concluded that Clinton “failed to lead.”
“After Qhaddafi, the U.S. knew that we could not count on host nation security in a country where militias held significant power,” Pompeo and Jordan wrote. “The American people expect that when the government sends our representatives into such dangerous places they receive adequate protection. Secretary Clinton paid special attention to Libya. She sent Ambassador Stevens there. Yet, in August 2012, she missed the last, clear chance to protect her people.”
The two Congressmen also concluded that the Obama Administration “did not move heaven and earth to rescue our people.”
Jordan and Pompeo also concluded that Clinton and the State Department put politics first in their response to the attack by blaming it on a protest of a video instead of calling it a terrorist attack.
4. Pompeo Served in the Military, Graduating First in His West Point Class
According to his website bio, Pompeo was enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated first in his class in 1986. After graduation, he was a cavalry officer and served in Germany before the Berlin Wall fell. He was also a member of the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Fourth Infantry Division.
After his military service, he attended Harvard Law School. He then returned to Kansas, where his mother’s family is and founded Thayer Aerospace. Before he ran for Congress, Pompeo was the president of Sentry International, which manufactures oilfield equipment.
Pompeo also represents the same district that’s home to Koch Industries, which has supported Pompeo‘s political career. Koch invested in Thayer.
Koch has continued to be a strong supporter for Pompeo. According to OpenSecrets data, Kock Industries donated $80,000 to his first Congressional campaign in 2010. In 2012, the oil-and-gas giant donated $110,000 and $114,400 in 2014. During the 2016 campaign, Koch contributed $75,100.
5. Pompeo Insists that Guantanamo Bay Must Remain Open & Is the ‘Right Option for American Security’
Pompeo has insisted that Guantanamo Bay must remain open. In fact, on he has a list of photos on his website of Guantanamo Bay detainees with the phrase “This Could Be Your Neighbor” written on them.
“I’m fighting hard to keep terrorists out of Kansas and America. We have to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open. That’s the right option for American national security,” Pompeo’s statement reads.
In a 2013 interview with MSNBC, Pompeo said that there was “no crisis” at the facility after visiting it himself.
“The president talks about releasing these detainees but history shows clearly: 25% of the folks that have been released today have returned to the battlefield to wreak havoc against American interests to continue to battle for Islamic jihad,” Pompeo said on MSNBC. “I don’t think it makes any sense, when you’ve got at least a quarter of the folks who you’re going to release come back and present a risk to Americans, to let anybody go who poses that kind of threat to America.”
In a February 2016 interview with Fox News, Pompeo called Guantanamo Bay an “important asset” and said he wants the detainees “right where they are.”
Pompeo also strongly opposes the Iran Nuclear deal, which he said he looked forward to “rolling back” and called “disastrous.”