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Trump’s Pick for CIA Director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, Will Begin Confirmation Hearings Thursday

by Countable | 3.20.17

On November 18, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Trump said the congressman from Kansas "will be a brilliant and unrelenting leader for our intelligence community to ensure the safety of Americans and our allies."

Who is Mike Pompeo?

Pompeo, 53, was born in Orange, California and has had a unique blend of achievements in the military, business, and political realms. He attended college at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in mechanical engineering and graduated first in his class. Following graduation in 1986, he served in an armored regiment in Europe operating along the Iron Curtain prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Pompeo’s final tour in the Army was during the Persian Gulf War, and after leaving military service he earned a law degree from Harvard University where he was the editor of the law review. Following the completion of his studies at Harvard, Pompeo worked as a lawyer for a prominent Washington D.C. law firm known as Williams & Connolly LLP for more than two years. He then relocated to Kansas where he founded an aerospace company that received an investment from Koch Industries. In 2006, he sold the company and became the president of a company that manufactures and sells oil drilling equipment.

In 2010, Pompeo launched a successful campaign for Congress and he has since won re-election three times. In all of his campaigns, he won at least 59 percent of the vote in his district and received contributions from Koch Industries and its employees, among others. As a lawmaker, Pompeo has been a staunch conservative who identifies with the Tea Party movement, and serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Energy and Commerce Committee. In the last Congress, he drafted a bill to establish national GMO labelling standards that passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

Pompeo’s wife Susan has played an active role in her husband’s political career, even critiquing his performance during the Benghazi committee’s questioning of Hillary Clinton (she gave him an ‘F’). The couple have one son, Nick.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

Bipartisan members of Congress in both chambers have praised Pompeo for his work on intelligence matters. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-CA) called him "one of the most respected voices in Congress," while the ranking member of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that he “is willing to listen and engage, both key qualities in a CIA director.” In the Senate, Mark Warner (D-VA) said that Pompeo “has a first-hand appreciation for Congress’ responsibility to provide vigilant oversight of our nation’s intelligence activities.”

Still, some of Pompeo’s views will invite scrutiny during confirmation hearings. The executive director of the ACLU told The Washington Times that his stances on the NSA’s bulk surveillance and the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay "raise serious civil liberties concerns about privacy and due process."

You can tell your senators how you want them to vote on Rep. Pompeo’s confirmation using the "Take Action" button.

What does the Central Intelligence Agency do?

The CIA is an intelligence agency focused on gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world. It is also the only agency legally authorized to carry out covert actions overseas with the president’s approval, which can take the form of paramilitary operations, intelligence activities, or efforts to politically influence foreign governments.

Because of the clandestine nature of the CIA’s operations, much of its budget is secret and when Congress votes on it, only funding for the agency’s pensions and retirement system are made publicly available. The number of employees who work for the CIA is also unknown, but because of information leaked by Edward Snowden it’s been estimated that the agency employs more than 21,000 people. Those documents also pointed to a $52.6 billion "black budget" for fiscal year 2013.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

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