By Kaitlyn Schallhorn, ,
Published May 02, 2018
Mike Pompeo was selected by the White House earlier this year to leave his post as CIA director and take over as secretary of state.
He was confirmed in a 57 to 42 vote by the Senate on April 26 after facing a rocky Foreign Relations Committee vote. All Republicans present voted aye. Seven senators who caucus with the Democrats voted yes.
“I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture,” Trump said when he nominated Pompeo. “He will continue our program of restoring America’s standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Trump sent Pompeo to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with the rogue nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, according to the White House. Trump said on social media “a good relationship was formed” during the meeting, and the two men reportedly discussed the release of three Americans being held in the Asian nation.
Pompeo, 54, said he is “deeply grateful” to the president for the job and said he looks forward to “representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing on April 12, Pompeo confirmed for the first time publicly to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign and possible obstruction of justice issues.
Read on for a look at the Trump administration's newest secretary of state.
Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point, where he “served with distinction in the U.S. Army,” Trump said after promoting him.
He is a former cavalry officer, who patrolled the Iron Curtain prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, according to his CIA biography. He served in the Army from 1986 to 1991.
Pompeo later received a law degree from Harvard University in 1994.
After college, Pompeo started Thayer Aerospace, an specialized machine firm that was reportedly backed by conservative mega-donors David and Charles Koch. Pompeo served as its chief executive officer for more than 10 years.
The Wichita Business Journal heaped praise on Pompeo and Thayer for securing a $124 million contract with Vought Aircraft Industries in 2000. It said Thayer is “a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives the Wichita economy.”
Pompeo stepped aside from Thayer in 2006, according to the Wichita Business Journal.
Pompeo would eventually become president of Sentry International, a company that sold equipment for oil fields and manufacturing.
He is married with one son.
As a Republican, Pompeo represented the 4th congressional district of Kansas from January 2011 to January 2017, when he was sworn in as CIA director. He was elected to Congress during the Tea Party movement.
While in Congress, Pompeo was part of the contentious House Select Benghazi Committee, which probed the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya. The committee sharply criticized the Obama administration – particularly former secretary of state Hillary Clinton – for the handling of the attack and its aftermath.
Pompeo called Clinton “morally reprehensible.”
Additionally, Pompeo has often lambasted the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, which granted Tehran sanctions relief for rolling back its nuclear weapons program.
Pompeo was confirmed as the CIA director by the Senate with a 66 to 32 vote on January 23, 2017. Two Democrats, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy – both from Connecticut – did not vote. Murphy's office said he opposed Pompeo leading the CIA but could not make it to the vote due to weather-related travel delays.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican who voted against Pompeo. He told Fox News at the time he was worried Pompeo’s “desire for security will trump his defense of liberty.”
The White House announced its intention for Pompeo to take over as secretary of state on March 13.
“As Director of the CIA, Mike has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community,” Trump said.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Zoe Szathmary, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.