On Tuesday Mr. Trump tweeted the news of a major change in his administration, thanking Rex Tillerson for his service and announcing the acting CIA director as the new Secretary of State.
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
So what is known about the newly appointed top member of Trump's cabinet?
- Prior to becoming head of the CIA in January 2017, Pompeo was a conservative Republican member of the House of Representatives from Kansas. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, and Harvard Law School. He is a retired US Army officer.
- Having a strong record of backing the Israeli government and condemning the Iran nuclear deal, Pompeo has previously commented on the agreement saying it "won't stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and places Israel at more risk." He is also convinced that the "post-sanctions Iran will become more moderate is a joke — they want to annihilate Israel, now buying Russian missiles."
- Pompeo sponsored legislation that would have reinstated the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' communication metadata. He wrote in 2015, about restarting the data collection and combining it with financial and lifestyle information into one searchable database. He has called for "empowering our intelligence agencies to do their jobs and track terrorist activity" and stressed that intelligence professionals can't be expected "to prevent terrorist attacks" while being "handcuffed."
- Comments on North Korea made by Pompeo in the past imply he would like to see changes in Pyongyang's leadership and separation of the capacity to use nuclear weapons from those who "might well have intent." According to his statement in 2017, Pompeo 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."
- The new Secretary of State is a lifetime member of and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association for election in 2010. "Mike Pompeo will be a staunch defender of the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in Kansas and across America," said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-PVF.
At the time of his announcement, President Trump did not provide any explanation for the sudden reshuffle in his administration.
Pompeo is set to be replaced as CIA director by Gina Haspel. She was Pompeo's deputy at the CIA and will be the first woman to lead the agency.