Mike Pompeo: A Soldier, Spy Chief And Tea Party Republican Becomes Secretary Of State : Parallels He's been a tank commander, a successful businessman, a congressman and head of the CIA. He's cultivated a tough-guy persona with hawkish views on foreign policy. He's set to be the top U.S. diplomat.
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Mike Pompeo: A Soldier, Spy Chief And Tea Party Republican To Become A Diplomat

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Mike Pompeo: A Soldier, Spy Chief And Tea Party Republican To Become A Diplomat

Mike Pompeo: A Soldier, Spy Chief And Tea Party Republican To Become A Diplomat

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state. CIA Director Mike Pompeo is the likely nominee to succeed him. And Pompeo's deputy, Gina Haspel, is the choice to lead the CIA. NPR's Greg Myre covers national security, and he has this profile of Pompeo as he makes the transition from spy chief to the top diplomat.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Mike Pompeo has a remarkable resume - top of his class at West Point, tank officer in Europe, Harvard Law School, corporate lawyer, successful businessman, Republican congressman from Kansas. And for the past year, he's run the CIA for President Trump. However, he's never been a diplomat, either by profession or temperament.

IAN BREMMER: He's quite bombastic. That plays well with Trump, but that doesn't necessarily support a balanced American national security policy.

MYRE: Ian Bremmer runs the Eurasia Group, which analyzes global politics.

BREMMER: Pompeo is very much a hard-liner on issues of national security broadly, and he wants to be seen as making a mark for himself.

MYRE: Pompeo has called for ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran. He also took the unusual step of sending a letter of warning to the head of an Iranian military force, a group the U.S. normally doesn't contact. Pompeo seems to enjoy bucking convention. Here he is telling the story at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE POMPEO: What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control. He refused to open the letter - didn't break my heart to be honest with you.

MYRE: Pompeo also talks tough on North Korea. Last weekend, he told "Fox News Sunday" that the U.S. would not ease up despite the prospect of talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

POMPEO: Make no mistake about it. While these negotiations are going on, there will be no concessions made.

MYRE: As CIA director, Pompeo has delivered the intelligence briefing to the president most mornings at the White House, and they have developed a strong bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POMPEO: We have half hour, 40 minutes every day. He asks lots of hard questions, as any good intelligence consumer would.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He's engaged.

POMPEO: He's very engaged and very appreciative of the information that we deliver to him.

MYRE: Leon Panetta, a CIA director under President Barack Obama, says he speaks with Pompeo about the job they've shared and the need to have the president's attention.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEON PANETTA: God bless Mike Pompeo for the ability to sit down and brief the president and have the president listen to the intelligence reports.

MYRE: Pompeo's supporters say this relationship, along with his background as a military officer and CIA chief, will give him credibility when speaking on Trump's behalf to foreign leaders.

DANIELLE PLETKA: To my mind, this represents absolutely a job upgrade for Mike Pompeo.

MYRE: That's Danielle Pletka of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

PLETKA: Dealing with the North Korea nuclear challenge, dealing with the Iranian regional challenge and then with all of those kinds of things, dealing with the China challenge, the Russia challenge - all of those things are an opportunity for Mike Pompeo.

MYRE: On most issues, it's hard to find any daylight between Trump and Pompeo. He even says the president's less-than-diplomatic tweets directed at overseas rivals have worked to the CIA's benefit behind the scenes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POMPEO: Our adversaries responded to those tweets in ways that were helpful to us to understand command and control issues, who's listening to what messages, how those messages are resonating around the world.

MYRE: The world, as Pompeo likes to say, was full of problems before Trump ever sent a tweet from the White House. But as the spymaster becomes a diplomat, he'll now be responsible for translating the president's message to a global audience. Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.

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