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.
In May 2020, Trump announced he would be replacing the State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick. According to news reports, Linick was also looking into allegations of Pompeo’s misuse of personnel as well as the department’s use of an emergency declaration in May 2019 to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.
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.
American Oversight sued the State Department and the CIA in July 2019 for records of Pompeo’s communications with outside entities and specific lawmakers, including from this time as CIA director.
Another lawsuit against the State Department and the CIA was filed on Feb. 14, 2020, seeking records of complaints filed by employees concerning Pompeo’s conduct, as well as related communications.