President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo as United States Secretary of State, succeeding Rex Tillerson. Upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate, the Secretary of State nominee would be the first Italian American to hold the office since its creation in 1789.
Mike Pompeo comes to the position with an extraordinary résumé. He graduated first in his class at West Point and served as a tank officer in Europe. He then went to Harvard Law School, where afterwards, he became a corporate lawyer and then launched a successful aerospace business. He was elected to Congress as a Tea Party Republican from Kansas in 2010 and for the last year, he has run the CIA.
During his tenure as Director of the CIA, he has shown himself to take a hardline on national security issues. That will make his initial months as Secretary of State very interesting. Pompeo recently stated that the U.S. would not soften its stance on North Korea. This of course was in advance of his announcement as the new Secretary of State and ahead of planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump. He has made his position regarding North Korea known by suggesting that a change in the country’s regime would be favorable, but has since said that he is hopeful that diplomatic and economic pressure will help resolve the issues.
One of the Secretary of State nominee’s strengths is his strong personal bond with the President and has provided intelligence briefing most mornings at the White House. Both men seemed very satisfied with the results. Pompeo by all accounts has a way of keeping the President engaged. Their conversations are rapid fire question and answer sessions. The President wants answers and the Director provides them. It is a no nonsense, business-like approach that both men understand and respect. Additionally, during his tenure as head of the CIA, Director Pompeo often attended meetings that did not necessarily involve his agency because President Trump liked to use him as a sounding board and greatly valued his input.
Pompeo’s supporters say he’ll be a much better fit as Secretary of State than was Tillerson, who often seemed out of sync with the President. He is likely to have far more credibility as the President’s surrogate when he speaks to foreign leaders. Director Pompeo said in a statement that he was “deeply grateful” to President Trump and said he looked “forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity.”
Mike Pompeo was born in Orange, California, the son of Dorothy and Wayne Pompeo. His paternal grandmother was born in Caramanico Terme, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. In 1982, Pompeo graduated from Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley, California, where he played forward on the basketball team. In 1986, he graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in mechanical engineering.
From 1986 to 1991, Pompeo served in the U.S. Army as an Armor Branch cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the 4th Infantry Division in the Gulf War.
In 1994, Pompeo received a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School, where he was on the board of editors of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he worked as a lawyer for Williams & Connolly. In 1998, along with other West Point alumni, Pompeo founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security. In 2006, he sold his interest in the company and became president of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment company.
Pompeo entered politics in 2010 and was elected to the House of Representatives from Kansas. He was re-elected numerous times and was still a member of Congress, when then-President-elect Donald Trump nominated him to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 23, 2017, with a vote of 66–32 and was sworn in later that day.
Before he joined the Trump administration, he was perhaps best known as an outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton and the way she handled the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, when she was Secretary of State. The U.S. Ambassador and three security personnel were killed in the attack.
Pompeo is married to Susan Pompeo and has one son, Nicholas. Congratulations to Director Pompeo and his family. It is a proud day for all Italian Americans.