Trump picks Rep. Pompeo as CIA chief

Trump picks Rep. Pompeo as CIA chief
© Greg Nash

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE has selected Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA.

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Pompeo accepted the offer to replace current CIA Director John Brennan. It came moments after reports emerged that Trump tapped Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions: DOJ concerned about suppression of free speech on college campuses Faith communities are mobilizing against Trump’s family separation policy Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lands book deal MORE (R-Ala.) to be his attorney general.

“I am honored and humbled to accept the President-elect’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency," Pompeo said in a statement.

He said he had loved representing Kansas in Congress, "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."

Reuters first reported the selection on Pompeo on Friday morning.

Pompeo is considered a serious — and hawkish — member of the Republican national security establishment.

In being nominated to lead the CIA, the House lawmaker appears to have leapfrogged his chairman on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who was one of several names being floated for the post this week.  

After graduating first in his class from West Point, Pompeo served as a cavalry officer before heading to Harvard Law School, where he overlapped with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Cornyn takes on O'Rourke over AR-15s MORE (R-Texas).

After winning an open seat in Kansas, Pompeo made it a priority to join the Intelligence Committee, where he now sits. He was a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi and helps to lead a task force that earlier this year confirmed allegations that intelligence about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had been manipulated by senior officials at the military’s Central Command.

In recent years, Pompeo has made his name as a particularly vocal critic of the Obama administration’s policy on Iran and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE’s actions during the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Along with Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google Overnight Defense: Trump denies report he's looking at Mattis replacements | Inhofe officially gets Armed Services gavel | Trump revives shutdown threat MORE (R-Ark.), Pompeo tried to shed light on side deals between Iran and United Nations inspectors. He also tried unsuccessfully to visit Iran earlier this year to observe the country’s elections.

On the Benghazi committee, Pompeo went above and beyond the panel’s conclusions to say that Clinton's actions were “morally reprehensible.”

This summer, he ruled out launching a primary challenge against Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell: Sessions should stay as attorney general Tougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans Farm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage MORE (R-Kan.) after initially contemplating a jump to the upper chamber. 

Brennan, who Pompeo would replace, was a frequent critic of Trump during the campaign. In September, he rejected Trump’s claim that intelligence officials were unhappy with President Obama.

And in July, he seemingly suggested he would step down if Trump followed through on his push to bring back so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding.

 

Jonathan Swan contributed.

Updated at 10:45 a.m.