Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo was sworn in on Monday night as the new CIA director. He was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.
Pompeo will head the CIA amid tensions between the intelligence community and President Donald Trump, who frequently criticized U.S. intelligence agencies in the wake of their findings about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump visited CIA headquarters for a speech on Saturday, just one day after being sworn in, but CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reported that the visit did little to improve the relationship -- and in fact, may have made things worse.
Originally scheduled for a vote on Friday, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a group of liberal Senate Democrats delayed Pompeo’s confirmation vote due to concerns over his position on surveillance issues. Pompeo’s hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee was on Jan. 12.
Before the vote was held, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) spoke at length about what he and others considered Pompeo’s inconsistent statements on a series of issues.
“There has been a hearing, I met with the nominee in private, we submitted two sets of questions both before and after the hearing,” Wyden said. “And despite it all it has been impossible to walk away with consistent answers on the congressman’s beliefs on how he would lead the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) then spoke on Pompeo’s behalf, saying the Kansas congressman “has spent his entire life preparing for a moment like this.”
“It’s clear why President Trump didn’t interview anyone else for the job after meeting Mike,” he said. “It’s a big job and the CIA will benefit from new blood and fresh leadership. Mike is ready for the job … with Mike, it’s the real deal.”
One Democratic senator, Feinstein, said she was backing Pompeo’s nomination because he said he would not obey the president’s orders were he to be asked to reinstate the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
“I support Mike Pompeo to be director of the CIA,” she said. “And I want to make clear that Congressman Pompeo has committed to following the law with respect to torture.”