Former congressman Mike Pompeo sworn in as new CIA director
WASHINGTON – The Associated PressMike Pompeo was sworn in on the night of Jan. 23 as director of the CIA at a crucial time for U.S. national security as intelligence - traditionally a nonpartisan issue - has been thrust into the political arena.
“You are stepping up to lead the finest intelligence-gathering operation the world has ever seen,” Vice President Mike Pence said during the nighttime swearing-in ceremony. “The men and women serving under your command give true meaning to the word courage.”
Pompeo, a Republican congressman on the House Intelligence Committee, became only the third member of U.S. President Donald Trump’s cabinet to take his post, as the president’s Republican Party has pushed hard to speed up confirmation of his nominees.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were sworn in on Jan. 29, the Inauguration Day.
The Senate earlier on Jan. 23 confirmed Trump’s nominee to run the CIA despite some Democratic objections that the Kansas congressman has been less than transparent about his positions on torture, surveillance and Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election.
The vote was 66-32, with significant support from Democrats.
“He will be an excellent CIA director,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted his congratulations to his House colleague.
Trump has been critical of intelligence agencies since their assessment of Russian involvement to help him win the election, but the new president also has said he is fully behind them.
Senate Republicans had hoped to vote on Pompeo’s nomination on Jan. 20, after Trump’s inauguration. But Democrats succeeded in stalling action until they could debate.
Meanwhile, Trump’s choice for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil Corp Chairman Rex Tillerson, narrowly won approval from a Senate committee on Jan. 23, but is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 to approve Tillerson, with every Republican backing the former oil executive and every Democrat opposing him.
His approval by the panel, a victory for Trump, had been in doubt until earlier on Jan. 23, when Senator Marco Rubio, a committee member who had been Tillerson’s most vocal Republican critic, said he would back the nominee.
Tillerson’s confirmation by the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats, is not expected before next week. Democrats want more time to debate and the chamber may not be in session all this week.