Who Is Trump's Pick: A Little About Mike Pompeo

Mar 13, 2018
Originally published on March 13, 2018 2:21 pm
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We're going to open up the conversation now, I think, David. We've got Greg Myre here.


Yeah. Greg - I mean, Michele was talking a little bit there about Mike Pompeo maybe jelling a little better with President Trump. Can you step back, if you can? I mean, here is, you know, the person who's going to be the nation's top diplomat moving to state from CIA. Tell us more about Pompeo.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Yeah. He's got this incredible resume. First in his class at West Point. He was a tank officer in Europe in the final years of the Cold War. Went to Harvard Law School. Was a congressman from Kansas. Very hawkish views. But again, President Trump, we know likes people with a military past. Mike Pompeo was an Army officer. So we have another former military person in a high-ranking position. And they have this - they seem to have cemented a very strong relationship because every day Pompeo is in the White House giving Trump the daily presidential brief.

GREENE: You say more hawkish. I mean, I think about some of the countries and diplomatic crises out there and diplomatic discussions - Iran, the nuclear deal, North Korea, which, obviously with this meeting is, going to, you know, be in the news a lot, Russia. I mean, how could a more hawkish view play out at the State Department?

MYRE: Well, you know, in some ways, even though Rex Tillerson and Trump were not seen as being on the same page, Tillerson was sometimes seen as being a brake on Trump. If Trump would say something about he didn't think NATO was so important, Tillerson would reassure allies. Or when tensions were heating up in North Korea, Tillerson would say, well, this is still a diplomatic issue. Pompeo is more in line with Trump, but that might lead to a more in-sync message, but a hawkish in-sync message. Pompeo has said things like we should rip up the Iranian nuclear deal, those kinds of things.

MARTIN: I want to bring in Michele Kelemen again, who's still with us. Michele, give us just the state of play at the State Department. You say that morale has been real tough over the past year. Why? And what is Tillerson's legacy there going to be?

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Well, there are a lot of empty jobs, and that's in part because of Tillerson but also because of the president not filling a lot of these positions. You know, Tillerson came in talking about making it more efficient in doing this redesign, and it kind of stagnated. I mean, other than some small things like improving the computer systems over here, there isn't a whole lot of big changes on that front. And he was defending major budget cuts. We've seen a lot of very talented long-term diplomats with 30-plus years' experience retiring and not a lot of people filling the ranks underneath.

MARTIN: Right.

GREENE: Well, speaking of this whole shake-up, I mean, Greg Myre, just briefly - I mean, Gina Haspel now is going to become CIA director. At least, that's what President Trump said. First woman to lead the CIA, right?

MYRE: Exactly. First one. A career CIA officer, been there over 30 years. Been undercover most of those years and linked up with the waterboarding. One of the few things we know about her was she was involved in the waterboarding in the days after 9/11, and is going out now from deputy to the head of the CIA.

GREENE: OK. Greg Myre and Michele Kelemen, thank you both so much. We appreciate it.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

MYRE: Thank you.

GREENE: Covering the news this morning that Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state, President Trump saying that he wants CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be a replacement in that job at State. Much more to come. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.