Mike Pompeo’s Political Ambitions and Influences

First serving in the Trump administration as CIA director before his appointment as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has become one of President Trump’s longest-serving and most loyal cabinet members. His leadership at the State Department and his various taxpayer-funded trips have raised questions about his external influences and his possible future political aims in his home state of Kansas — and we’re investigating.

Background

Mike Pompeo, previously the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and before that the U.S. representative for Kansas’s 4th District, was sworn in as Trump’s second secretary of state in April 2018 after the ousting of former secretary Rex Tillerson. Since then, Pompeo has supported the president’s obstruction of congressional oversight, has infused State Department policy with conservative and religious ideology, and has undertaken media-centric trips to his home state, fueling speculation about a future Senate run.

Some of those trips have also included his wife, Susan Pompeo, who reports suggest has taken on a more prominent role at the State Department than is usually the case for a secretary’s spouse. In January 2019 — during the record-long partial government shutdown — Susan Pompeo accompanied the secretary on a trip to the Middle East, an addition that required extra staffing and transportation support. And in the summer of that year, congressional investigators began looking into whistleblower allegations that special agents on Pompeo’s security detail were being asked to pick up Chinese takeout or to collect the Pompeos’ family dog from the groomer.

Pompeo’s domestic travel has also come under scrutiny. In March 2019, Pompeo stopped in Iowa, Texas and Kansas to participate in events that, as CNN reported, “fall outside the traditional foreign policy remit.” Other trips to Kansas that had a distinct campaign tinge have contributed further to the assumption that Pompeo is laying the groundwork for his future ambitions. In January 2019, the secretary told Fox News that “lots of folks” had approached him to run for retiring Sen. Pat Roberts’s seat in 2020. He has reportedly met with a Republican strategist and has even been urged by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to run.

Meanwhile, Pompeo has promoted many of the Trump administration’s conservative policies, including the Mexico City Policy (also known as the “global gag rule”) banning federal funds for NGOs supporting abortion rights overseas, and has reportedly made overtures to groups and individuals working to limit LGBTQ rights. In March 2019, he participated in a State Department press briefing about international religious freedom that allowed only “faith-based” media outlets to participate — and not the State Department press corps. Additional concerns about his conduct emerged following reports that Pompeo was prone to “fits of ‘anger’” and “bully[ing]” while serving as CIA chief.

American Oversight has been investigating Pompeo’s political influences and communications with outside groups so as to better understand how his ambitions and connections may have impacted U.S. policy during his tenure. We have sued the State Department and the CIA for records of Pompeo’s communications and calendars, and filed a lawsuit against Pompeo for his failure to preserve and recover records from a 2017 meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which were unlawfully seized by the president.

Litigation 

On April 1, 2019, American Oversight sued multiple agencies, including the State Department, for senior officials’ calendars, including those of Pompeo. You can view that lawsuit here.

On June 18, 2019, American Oversight, along with Democracy Forward, filed a lawsuit against the State Department, Pompeo, the National Archives and Records Administration and Archivist David Ferreiro for failing to recover and preserve records from Trump’s meeting with Putin at the 2017 G20 summit in Germany.

What We’re Seeking

  • Pompeo’s communications from the State Department and the CIA sent using a non-governmental email address;
  • Pompeo’s emails with external entities;
  • Pompeo’s calendars;
  • Records about the 2018 arrangement for Pompeo and his family to move to a military campus;
  • Any official emails and calendars for Susan Pompeo, as well as records related to her official travel, her role at the State Department, her ethics analysis, and any threat assessment conducted for her or any requests related to office space for her;
  • CIA and State Department records of any communications between Pompeo and Sens. Tom Cotton or Marco Rubio, and State Department records of communications with Ambassador Kelly Craft or Sen. Mitch McConnell;
  • All whistleblower complaints from the CIA or State Department concerning Pompeo’s conduct while leading those agencies; and
  • Records from the March 2019 briefing call that was limited to faith-based media.

Related Documents

September 20, 2019

State Department Records of Security Assessment for Susan Pompeo

Department of State
Agency Record
July 23, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. State and CIA – Pompeo Communications

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State
Litigation
July 16, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding a Threat Assessment Conducted for Susan Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 16, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding Susan Pompeo’s Role at the Department

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 16, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Emails and Calendars of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Spouse, Susan Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 2, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to Secretary Pompeo’s Housing Arrangement

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 2, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to Official Travel of Secretary Pompeo and Susan Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 2, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Secretary Pompeo’s External Email Communications

Department of State
FOIA Request
April 1, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. Multiple Agencies – Senior Officials’ Calendars

Administration for Children and Families, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Litigation
February 21, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Between Pompeo and Senators

Department of State
FOIA Request
February 21, 2019

FOIA to CIA Seeking Communications Between Pompeo and Senators

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
November 29, 2018

FOIA to CIA Seeking Former Director Pompeo’s Personal Email Communications

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
November 29, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Secretary Pompeo’s Personal Email Communications

Department of State
FOIA Request