WASHINGTON: CIA Director Mike Pompeo, if confirmed as the next secretary of state, would bring a number of assets to his new role as the top US diplomat: the confidence of President Donald Trump, government experience and an insider’s knowledge of Congress and the federal bureaucracy.
Trump on Tuesday said he had selected Pompeo, a 54-year-old conservative Republican who has served since last year as CIA director, to replace fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the biggest Cabinet shakeup of his presidency.
Pompeo, a former US Army officer and Harvard Law School graduate who represented a Kansas district in the US House of Representatives before being tapped to lead the CIA, is seen as a Trump loyalist who has enjoyed a less hostile relationship with career spies than Tillerson had with career diplomats.
While some intelligence officers have said that Pompeo tends to tell Trump what he wants to hear rather than giving him their assessments, others say they have been impressed by his intellect, willingness to listen and advocacy of more robust covert operations.
Unlike Tillerson, a former businessman who lacked government experience when Trump picked him last year as secretary of state, Pompeo is well aware of the ways of Washington.
Current and former officials said Pompeo was likely to get along better with Congress and with the White House, not least because of his conservative bent.
Pompeo, however, will need to find a way to grapple with a boss who has shown little regard for diplomacy and no qualms about undermining Tillerson with Twitter posts, current and former US officials said.
If confirmed by the US Senate, Pompeo also would take over a State Department shaken by the departures of many senior diplomats and embittered by proposed budget cuts.
Trump also announced that he picked the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo as head of the agency.
If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first woman to hold the post. — Reuters