Trump picks Rep. Pompeo as CIA chief

Greg Nash

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA.

{mosads}Pompeo accepted the offer to replace current CIA Director John Brennan. It came moments after reports emerged that Trump tapped Sen. Jeff Sessions (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 Cruz (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 Clinton’s actions during the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Along with Sen. Tom Cotton (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 Moran (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.

Tags Central Intelligence Agency CIA Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions Jerry Moran national intelligence Republicans spying Ted Cruz Tom Cotton transition team

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