Mike Pompeo: Ex-Army, CIA, fierce Obama critic on foreign policy
Here's what we know about Mike Pompeo, the man who will replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of State. USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – CIA Director Mike Pompeo — an engineer, lawyer, former Army officer and ex-congressman — is President Trump's choice to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of State.
Here are some things to know about Pompeo:
First in his class at West Point
Pompeo earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1986. He then served five years of active duty in the Army, rising to the rank of captain. He was a cavalry officer and patrolled the Berlin Wall before its fall in 1989.
He later attended Harvard Law School, becoming editor of the Harvard LawReview and earning his law degree in 1994. He went to work for Williams & Connolly law firm in Washington, D.C., focusing on tax litigation before moving to Kansas to co-found an aerospace firm. He was elected to Congress in 2010 and re-elected three times.
Fierce Obama critic on foreign policy
While in Congress, Pompeo served on the controversial House Select Committee on Benghazi, which was created in 2014 to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
When the committee issued its final report in 2016 finding no wrongdoing on the part of former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pompeo and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote their own addendum. The two congressmen concluded that Clinton "failed to lead" and "misled the public" about what happened.
Pompeo was also a fierce critic of the Obama administration's agreement that led Iran to stop production of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of international economic sanctions. Pompeo has urged Trump to end the deal.
Two-thirds of Senate backed him last year
The Senate voted 66-32 to confirm Pompeo as CIA director in January 2017. Opponents expressed concern that he had offered conflicting statements about whether he would expand government surveillance of Americans and bring back harsh interrogation techniques banned by President Obama.
At his Senate confirmation hearing, Pompeo said he would "absolutely not" bring back waterboarding, which Obama banned in 2009 through an executive order. However, in response to written questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he said he would review the ban if it was shown to impede the collection of "vital intelligence."
Critics also questioned whether Pompeo would try to bring back the mass collection of Americans' phone records and expand that surveillance to include other personal information about U.S. citizens with no suspected ties to terrorism.
Congress passed the USA Freedom Act in 2015 to stop the National Security Agency from collecting metadata from the phone records of millions of Americans. Pompeo was among the House members who voted to abolish the program, but he later called for it to be restored and combined with "publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database."
Led CIA analysis of North Korea
Pompeo gathered information about North Korea that would prove useful if he becomes secretary of State.
At a hearing last month, Pompeo told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA has completed an analysis of how North Korea would respond to a U.S. military strike. It also looked at how to bring the North Korean regime to the negotiating table. Pompeo would not go into detail about the analysis in the public hearing but offered to describe it to senators in closed session.
He's a native of Southern California
Although known as the former congressman from Kansas, Pompeo was born and raised in California. He was born on Dec. 30, 1963, in the city of Orange, which is southeast of Anaheim in Orange County. He grew up in the county seat of Santa Ana, a diverse city that is now almost 80% Hispanic. He went to Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley, and played on the varsity basketball team.