President-elect Donald Trump announced today that he plans to nominate Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., as CIA director, as his transition continues to build momentum.
Pompeo, 52, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of the first wave of so-called tea party lawmakers. A U.S. Military Academy and Harvard Law School graduate, he has a varied background. He served as a U.S. Army cavalry officer before founding an aerospace company, serving as president of an oil-field equipment manufacturing firm and – in a brief, little-known chapter of his early career – was an attorney with the Washington, D.C. mega-law firm Williams and Connolly.
He currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and is a close ally of Pence.
“He has served our country with honor and spent his life fighting for the security of our citizens,” Trump said of Pompeo in a statement.
Pompeo, who graduated first in his class at the U.S. Military Academy, would make a good CIA director, said one former CIA official who recently spoke with Pompeo but declined to be named because his conversation with the congressman was private.
“He took his duties on the House Intelligence Committee very seriously and understood the role of intelligence in foreign policy and our democracy,” said the former official. “I got no sense of a preconceived agenda and no political comments. Rather, a very smart and decent man who cared about the country and wanted very much to understand the world of intelligence, which is a different world than many ordinarily inhabit.”
Notably, Pompeo backed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., over Trump in the Republican presidential primary. In May, a Pompeo spokesman gave a somewhat tepid endorsement, saying the congressman would “support the nominee of the Republican Party because Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States.”
Pompeo is a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran. “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” he tweeted Thursday, before his offer to become CIA director was public.