Michael Richard Pompeo (//; born December 30, 1963) is an American politician and attorney who, since April 2018, has served as the 70th United States Secretary of State. He is a former United States Army officer and was Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from January 2017 until April 2018. Pompeo was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, representing Kansas’s 4th congressional district. He was a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee and member of the Italian American Congressional Delegation. Pompeo is also a member of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party.
President Donald Trump nominated Pompeo as Secretary of State in March 2018, with Pompeo succeeding Rex Tillerson after his dismissal. Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate on April 26, 2018, in a 57–42 vote and was sworn in the same day.
Education and early career
Pompeo was born in Orange, California, the son of Dorothy (née Mercer) and Wayne Pompeo. His father was of Italian ancestry; his paternal great-grandparents were born in Caramanico Terme, Abruzzo, and came to the United States in 1907. In 1982, Pompeo graduated from Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley, California, where he played power forward on the basketball team. In 1986, Pompeo graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in engineering management.
In 1994, Pompeo received a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School where he served as one of 78 editors of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, and on the 81-member board of editors of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he worked as a lawyer for the law firm Williams & Connolly in Washington.
In 1998, Pompeo moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he and three other West Point friends, Brian Bulatao, Ulrich Brechbuhl, and Michael Stradinger acquired three aircraft-part manufacturers there (Aero Machine, Precision Profiling, B&B Machine) and in St. Louis (Advance Tool & Die), renaming the entity Thayer Aerospace after West Point superintendent Sylvanus Thayer. Venture funding for the private organization included a 2% investment from Koch Industries as well as Dallas-based Cardinal Investment and Bain Capital (Brechbuhl worked for Bain at the time). Brechbuhl and Stradinger left the company shortly after it was founded, but Pompeo and Bulatao continued until 2006. In 2017, when Pompeo became head of the CIA, he named Bulatao the agency’s chief operating officer.
In 2006, he sold his interest in Thayer to Highland Capital Management. The announcement said clients of the firm included “Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream Aerospace, Cessna Aircraft, Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, Raytheon Aircraft and others”. It was renamed Nex-Tech Aerospace.
Pompeo then became president of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment manufacturer that was also a partner of Koch Industries.
U.S. House of Representatives (2011–2017)
In the 2010 Kansas Republican primary for the 4th District Congressional seat, Pompeo defeated State Senator Jean Schodorf (who received 24%), Wichita businessman Wink Hartman (who received 23%), and small business owner Jim Anderson (who received 13%). State Senator Dick Kelsey also ran for the nomination but ended his campaign before the August primary and endorsed Pompeo. Late in the primary, Schodorf began to surge in the polls, prompting two outside groups—Americans for Prosperity and Common Sense Issues, the latter an Ohio-based political group—to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the campaign’s final days to attack Schodorf and support Pompeo.
In the general election, Pompeo defeated Democratic nominee Raj Goyle, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. Pompeo received 59% of the vote (117,171 votes) to 36% for Goyle (71,866). During the campaign, Pompeo sparked controversy when his campaign’s Twitter account shared, then later deleted, a blog post calling his Indian-American opponent a “turban topper” and then-President Barack Obama an “evil Muslim communist.”
Pompeo won the general election, defeating Democrat Perry Schuckman with 66.7% of the vote.
Pompeo beat Democrat Daniel B. Giroux in the general election with 60.6% of the vote.
Pompeo served on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce and on the following three subcommittees: the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Energy, and the United States House Intelligence Subcommittee on the CIA. He was also on the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi.
CIA Director (2017–2018)
On November 18, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Pompeo to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 23, 2017, with a vote of 66–32, and sworn in later that day.
In February 2017, Pompeo traveled to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. He met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss policy on Syria and ISIL. Pompeo honored the then-Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Nayef with the CIA’s “George Tenet” Medal. It was the first reaffirmation of Saudi Arabia–United States relations since Trump took office in January 2017. In March 2017, Pompeo formally invoked executive privilege to prevent CIA officers, including Gina Haspel and James Cotsana, from being compelled to testify in the trial of Bruce Jessen and James Elmer Mitchell. In June 2017, Pompeo named Michael D’Andrea head of the CIA’s Iran mission center.
In August 2017, Pompeo took direct command of the Counterintelligence Mission Center, the department which helped to launch an investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials. Former CIA directors[who?] expressed concern since Pompeo is known to be an ally of Trump.
Pompeo usually personally delivered the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office. At Trump’s request, Pompeo met with former NSA official William E. Binney to discuss his doubts of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. At the suggestion of Tony Perkins, Pompeo planned to hire chaplains at the CIA to reduce officers’ high divorce rates.
Secretary of State (2018–present)
Nomination and confirmation
On April 23, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-9 in favor of sending Pompeo’s nomination to the full Senate, with Senator Chris Coons voting “present” and Johnny Isakson, who was absent that day, voting “yes by proxy”. In the interest of saving the Committee’s time, Coons decided to vote “present”, as the vote would have been tied if he had voted no on the nomination with Isakson absent, a situation that would have nullified his vote. The Senate floor vote took place on April 26 and Pompeo was confirmed by the full Senate by a 57–42 vote, with several Democratic senators running for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won in 2016, voting to confirm Pompeo.
|Voting body||Vote date||Vote results|
|Senate Committee on Foreign Relations||April 12, 2018||11–9|
|Full Senate||April 23, 2018||57–42|
In August 2018, Pompeo thanked the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “for Saudi Arabia’s support for northeast Syria’s urgent stabilization needs.” Pompeo and Crown Prince also discussed the situation in war-torn Yemen.
Pompeo and the Heritage Foundation
In a talk at the Heritage Foundation on May 21, 2018, entitled, “After the Deal: The New Iran Strategy”, Pompeo said, “First as a private citizen and then as a member of Congress, and even today, the Heritage Foundation has shaped my thinking on matters of the world and public policy issues”.
Military and national security
Pompeo stated, “Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed. That includes Presidential Policy Directive-28, which bestows privacy rights on foreigners and imposes burdensome requirements to justify data collection.”
In a 2013 speech on the House floor, Pompeo said Muslim leaders who fail to denounce acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam are “potentially complicit” in the attacks. The Council on American–Islamic Relations called on him to revise his remarks, calling them “false and irresponsible”. In 2016, ACT! for America gave Pompeo a “national security eagle award” for his comments on Islam. Pompeo has been a frequent guest on Frank Gaffney‘s radio show for the Center for Security Policy. As a congressman, he cosponsored legislation to add the Muslim Brotherhood to the United States State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Pompeo opposes closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp. After a 2013 visit to the prison, he said, of the prisoners who were on hunger strike, “It looked to me like a lot of them had put on weight.” He criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end secret prisons and its requirement that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.
In 2017, it was reported that Pompeo expressed desire for regime change in North Korea. In July 2017, he said “It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today.”
Pompeo worked to undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran that was negotiated by the Obama administration, saying, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” He also said that a better option than negotiating with Iran would be to use “under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”
On July 21, 2015, Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton alleged the existence of secret side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on procedures for inspection and verification of Iran’s nuclear activities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Obama administration officials acknowledged the existence of agreements between Iran and the IAEA governing the inspection of sensitive military sites but denied that they were “secret side deals”, calling them standard practice in crafting arms-control pacts and saying the administration had provided information about them to Congress.
In November 2015, Pompeo visited Israel and said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people” and that “Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated”. He also said, “In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important”, and “[w]e must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace”. He opposed Trump’s 2017 decision to move America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo said that Russia “has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS”.
Pompeo accused Obama of inviting Russia into Syria.
In a 2017 speech addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service” and described founder Julian Assange as a narcissist, fraud, and coward.
… we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now … Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.
In March 2014, he denounced the inclusion of a telecast by Edward Snowden at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, and asked that it be canceled, predicting that it would encourage “lawless behavior” among attendees.
In February 2016, Pompeo said Snowden “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”. But he has spoken in favor of reforming the Federal Records Act, one of the laws under which Snowden was charged, saying, “I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of change that needs to happen to the Espionage Act. The Federal Records Act clearly needs updating to reflect the different ways information is communicated and stored. Given the move in technology and communication methods, I think it’s probably due for an update.”
Energy and environment
Speaking about climate change in 2013, Pompeo said: “There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” He has said, “Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda.” He has called the Obama administration’s environment and climate change plans “damaging” and “radical”. He opposes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the United States and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.
He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an “enormous government handout”.
In December 2015, as a member of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he voted for two resolutions disapproving of the Clean Power Plan implemented by the United States Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration.
On May 9, 2013, Pompeo introduced the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The bill would have required the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or reject any proposal for a natural gas pipeline within 12 months. The bill passed the House of Representatives along party lines but was not voted on in the Senate.
Pompeo opposed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Pompeo has been criticized for saying that he supports funding for certain programs that are part of the ACA yet opposing them when they are a part of the ACA.
Pompeo has stated that life begins at conception and believes that abortions should be allowed only when necessary to save the life of the mother. In 2011 he voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would have banned federal health coverage that includes abortion. Also in 2011, he voted for a prohibition on funding the United Nations Population Fund.
Pompeo supported the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, blaming President Obama. He said that he believed the shutdown was necessary to avoid an “American financial collapse 10 years from now”.
Pompeo opposes requiring food suppliers to label food made with genetically modified organisms. He introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 to block states from requiring mandatory GMO food labeling.
In 2014, Pompeo told a church group that Christians needed to “know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world”. In 2015 in a talk at a church, Pompeo said that “politics is a never-ending struggle . . . until the Rapture.”
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- Highlights of the Speech of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Iran at the Heritage Foundation plus Index and Transcript
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- H.R. 3892, 114th Cong. (2015).
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- Secretary of State biography
- CIA Director biography
- Mike Pompeo at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Maplight Campaign Contributions
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas’s 4th congressional district
John O. Brennan
| Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
| United States Secretary of State
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
Ambassadors from the United States to international organizations
| Order of precedence of the United States
as Secretary of State
Ambassador to the United States
|Current U.S. presidential line of succession|
as President pro tempore of the United States Senate
| United States presidential succession
4th in line
as Secretary of State
as Secretary of the Treasury