Who is Mike Pompeo? Donald Trump picks CIA director as secretary of state
Mike Pompeo, who served as director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has been tapped by U.S. President Donald Trump to become secretary of state.
The move was announced Tuesday morning, as the president also confirmed that Rex Tillerson, who held the position for about one year, has been ousted.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Here’s what we know about the 54 year old set to assume one of the most powerful positions in the Trump administration.
Who is Mike Pompeo?
Pompeo took on the role of CIA director in January 2017, but prior to that he served as a Republican member for Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He is a retired army officer and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He also attended Harvard Law School.
WATCH: Pompeo assures military confrontation with North Korea is ‘not imminent’
Relationship with Trump
Pompeo has been a trusted member of Trump’s team, and two are generally known to have similar political views.
The CIA director routinely briefs the president on intelligence matters concerning North Korea, and has insisted that the U.S. will not make any concessions in talks with Pyongyang.
Like Trump, Pompeo is known for his stern criticism of Iran. He has pushed for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, to be scrapped.
Pompeo has also downplayed the extent of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, criticizing former president Barack Obama for not being tougher on Russia.
WATCH: Mike Pompeo sworn-in as new director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Pompeo defended use of torture
Also in line with the president, Pompeo has insisted that the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison is “critical to national security” and should remain open.
He has also defended the CIA’s use of torture tactics. In a 2014 statement made to Senate, he insisted programs used under the George W. Bush administration were “within the law.”
“These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots. The programs being used were within the law, within the constitution,” he said at the time, according to the Star-Telegram.
WATCH: Trump says he’s signed executive order to keep Guantanamo Bay open
Reaction to Mike Pompeo’s new position
Trump’s announcement garnered praise from within his party Tuesday, with many senators and members of Congress praising Pompeo has a strong leader.
“Mike Pompeo is an excellent choice to lead the State Department and represent the United States around the world,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted.
Mike Pompeo is an excellent choice to lead the State Department and represent the United States around the world. He understands very clearly the international challenges and the opportunities before America in the 21st Century.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 13, 2018
Mike Pompeo is an outstanding choice for Secretary of State. Experienced, dedicated and a true patriot. Good luck Mike!!
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) March 13, 2018
But one Democratic congresswoman cautioned that Pompeo isn’t the right person for the job.
Tillerson was ineffective at State but Pompeo could be even worse. I served with him in the House – he denies the reality of climate change, opposes the Iran Deal & supports regime change in #NorthKorea. We need an experienced diplomat at State, not a rubber stamp for Pres Trump. https://t.co/ixIDag5XCd
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 13, 2018
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement warning that Trump’s quick firing of officials is hurting the country’s credibility overseas.
“Whenever Tillerson’s successor goes into meetings with foreign leaders, his credibility will be diminished as someone who could be here today and gone tomorrow,” she wrote. “Continuity in our diplomatic personnel and policies are vital for championing American security, values, and interests.”
— With files from Reuters