Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s soon-to-be Secretary of State, reportedly replacing Rex Tillerson as soon as January 2018, is a hard-line Republican who shares the president-elect’s pugnacious worldview and, like Trump, spent years as a businessman before becoming a politician.
Pompeo, served three terms in the U.S. Congress from conservative Kansas, was a member of the House intelligence committee and has served as the director of the CIA since. During the 2016 presidential election Pompeo was an outspoken critic of former President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, Hillary Clinton's handling of the Benghazi attack and has said former National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor who deserves a death sentence.
During an appearance on C-SPAN in February, Pompeo said Snowden should receive the death penalty for his actions.
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“He 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,” Pompeo said.
As recently as last November, mere days after Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 elections, Pompeo declared on Twitter, with regards to the Iran nuclear deal, "I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism."
As a lawmaker Pompeo supported restoring the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, a contentious terror-fighting tool Congress eliminated after Snowden’s revelations. It’s unclear if Pompeo’s views on using harsh interrogation techniques completely mirror those of Trump, who says: “We should go tougher than waterboarding,” which simulates drowning.
As CIA director, Pompeo scrapped his appearance Thursday at Harvard University over the school’s decision to make Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified information, a visiting fellow.
Pompeo called Manning an “American traitor.” He said he agreed with military and intelligence officials who believe Manning’s leak endangered the lives of CIA personnel.
Pompeo was scheduled to appear at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to discuss allegations of Russian involvement in last year’s presidential election, the nuclear standoff with North Korea and other global security concerns.
Last month, Pompeo said in his official capacity as CIA director, apparently inaccurately, that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian interference did not affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
He directly contradicted U.S. intelligence agencies, which in January, said that they had made no assessment one way or the other on the impact of Moscow’s hacking and propaganda campaign but its report stated that Russia’s aim was to try and help then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s election chances.
Pompeo was born in Orange, California, and lives in Wichita, Kansas. He set up Thayer Aerospace and was its chief executive officer for more than 10 years. Later he was president of Sentry International, a company that sold equipment for oil fields and manufacturing.
Pompeo graduated top of his class in from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and went on to earn a degree from Harvard University where he edited the prestigious Harvard Law Review.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report