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Who is Mike Pompeo? The head of the CIA who is replacing Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State

20:32 13 March 2018 Author :  

President Donald Trump today sacked Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State, replacing him with Director of the CIA Mike Pompeo.

The president said he was confident Mr Pompeo was "the right person for the job at this critical juncture."He tweeted: “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job!”

Mr Pompeo is a Trump loyalist and was a hardline Republican congressman before the president appointed him as Director of the CIA in January 2017.

Life before CIA

Mr Pompeo was born in Orange, California, and lives in Wichita, Kansas.

He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, first in his class and before serving in the US Army between 1986 and 1991.

He later graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, before going into business.

He founded an aviation parts firm and an oilfield supply company before joining Congress.

Congress

During his time in office, the 54-year-old was a member of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party.

He represented Kansas in United States House of Representatives for three terms between 2011 and 2017.

Controversies

After the deadly 2013 Boston marathon bombing Mr Pompeo was accused of Islamophobia when he took to the House floor to suggest the silence of some Islamic leaders made them "potentially complicit in these acts."

He said: "When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith and are performed in the name of that faith a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith.

"Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow."

While running for congress in 2010, a campaign aide shared an article on Mr Pompeo’s social media accounts which labelled his Indian-American Democratic opponent Raj Goyle a "turban topper".

Criticism of Obama and Clinton

Mr Pompeo is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.

Like Mr Trump, he has called for scrapping the 2015 deal curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

He also attacked Hillary Clinton's handling of the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, accusing her of orchestrating a wide-ranging cover-up.

He has called for former National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to be brought back to America and given a death sentence.

Data collection and Guantanamo Bay

Mr Pompeo supported the US government's bulk data collection and is against shutting the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

In an opinion piece published in 2016, he called for restarting the collection of domestic telephone metadata and combining it with financial and lifestyle information into one searchable database.

After visiting Guantanamo Bay in 2013, he said that some inmates on hunger strike looked like they had put on weight.

He described their actions “political stunt” to a congressional committee.

He also told Congress that he would consider bringing back waterboarding after he was nominated as Mr Trump’s pick to run the CIA.

Trump and Russia

Mr Pompeo has downplayed the extent of Russia's intervention in the 2016 US presidential election, saying Moscow has sought to influence American elections for decades.

In February, he defended talks he had that month at CIA headquarters with Russian spy chiefs.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mr Tillerson appeared to be at odds with Mr Trump over how to respond to Russia after the Salisbury nerve agent attempted assassination.

The president initially avoided blaming the Kremlin, while Mr Tillerson publicly backed the UK's finding that Russia was "highly likely" to have use a weapons-grade nerve agent on British soil.

North Korea

A White House spokesman said Mr Trump wanted a new team in place ahead of talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.

Mr Pompeo regularly briefs Trump on intelligence matters, and is considered one of the most hawkish voices on North Korea in Trump's inner circle. www.standard.co.uk

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