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.

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.

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.

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.

Updates

News Roundup: Pompeo’s Emails and Barrett’s Nomination

October 22, 2020
If there were any hopes that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would, after having been accused of Hatch Act violations this summer, tone down his political activities as the election drew nearer, his recent pledge to release the emails of former Secretary Hillary Clinton has put those expectations to rest.

Pompeo’s Use of Personal Email While CIA Director Highlights State Department’s Failure to Produce His Emails as Secretary

October 21, 2020
American Oversight's litigation recently produced nearly 400 pages of Pompeo's emails from his time as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Investigations Update: Hatch Act Violations, Covid-19 Vaccine Contracts, and South Carolina Ballots

October 20, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the misuse of government resources for political purposes, the administration’s pandemic response, and voting rights in the states.
Show all updates

Related Documents

October 22, 2020

Letter to NARA, CIA, and State Requesting the Recovery of Records Removed from Federal Custody Due to Pompeo Personal Email Use

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, National Archives and Records Administration
October 16, 2020

Letter Calling for Hatch Act Investigation of Pompeo’s Push to Release Clinton Emails Before Election

Department of State, U.S. Office of Special Counsel
October 8, 2020

State Email Communications Regarding Inspector General Linick

Colorado Department of State
Agency Record
September 17, 2020

No Records Response from State Regarding Whistleblower Complaints Concerning Sec. Pompeo’s Conduct

Department of State
Agency Reply
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Dissent Memos Regarding Pompeo’s Appearance at Republican National Convention

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Ethics Complaints Regarding Pompeo’s Appearance at Republican National Convention

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Legal Analyses Regarding Pompeo’s Appearance at Republican National Convention

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Expenses Associated with Secretary Pompeo’s Speech at Republican National Convention

Department of State, State - Office of Information Programs and Services
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with Republican National Convention Organizers

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Regarding Republican National Convention

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
September 1, 2020

No Records Response from GSA Regarding Pompeo Military Housing

General Services Administration
Agency Reply
August 20, 2020

CIA Records of Pompeo’s External Communications

Central Intelligence Agency
Agency Record
August 17, 2020

State Records in Response to Request for Linick’s Emails Regarding Whistleblower Complaints Against Pompeo’s Conduct

Department of State
Agency Record
August 14, 2020

No Records Response from GSA Regarding Pompeo’s Use of Military Housing

General Services Administration
Agency Reply
August 11, 2020

Navy Memos Regarding Pompeo and Military Housing

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
Agency Record
July 27, 2020

FOIA to CIA Seeking Communications Regarding Susan Pompeo’s Role at State Department

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
July 27, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Legal Memo Regarding Susan Pompeo’s Role at Agency

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
July 27, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Regarding Susan Pompeo’s Role at Agency

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
July 24, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Complaints to Diplomatic Security Concerning the Conduct of Susan Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 24, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Complaints to Diplomatic Security Concerning the Conduct of Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 24, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding the Selection of Gifts for Dignitaries

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 24, 2020

FOIA to State Inspector General Seeking Whistleblower Complaints Concerning Conduct of Susan Pompeo

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
July 22, 2020

No Records Response from DOD Regarding Military Housing for Pompeo

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
July 16, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. State, GSA, Army, and Navy – Pompeo’s Use of Military Housing

Department of Defense, Department of State, DOD - Department of the Army, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy, General Services Administration
Litigation
July 8, 2020

FOIA to CIA Seeking Records of Events Hosted by the Pompeo Family

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
June 26, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. State – Pompeo’s Conduct and the Firing of State Department Inspector General

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
Litigation
June 26, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Scheduler Communications for Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 5, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Pompeo’s Written Responses to OIG’s Saudi Arms Deal Inquiry

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
June 1, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies for Records Regarding Pompeo’s Use of Military Housing

Department of Defense, Department of State, General Services Administration
FOIA Request
May 27, 2020

FOIA to State for Communications with Susan Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 26, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies for Records Regarding Pompeo Military Housing

Department of Defense, Department of State, DOD - Department of the Army, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy, General Services Administration
FOIA Request
May 21, 2020

FOIA to State for Number of Filed Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Pompeo

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
May 21, 2020

FOIA to State for Filed Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Pompeo

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
May 20, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Pompeo’s Emails Regarding State IG Linick

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 20, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Records or Memos Regarding IG Investigations into Pompeo

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
May 20, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding Meetings between IG Linick and Pompeo

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
May 20, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking IG Linick Emails Sent to Officials Regarding Pompeo Investigations

Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
FOIA Request
May 18, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Emails of IG Linick Regarding Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 18, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Records Sufficient to Identify Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 18, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking All Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 3, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Pompeo’s Ethics Documents and Communications with State Ethics Counsel

Department of State
FOIA Request
February 14, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. State and CIA – Records of Complaints About Pompeo’s Conduct

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State
Litigation
September 30, 2019

FOIA to CIA Seeking Emails of former Acting IG Sharpley Regarding Whistleblower Complaints Concerning Former Director Pompeo

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
September 30, 2019

FOIA to CIA Seeking Records Sufficient to Identify Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Former Director Pompeo

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
September 30, 2019

FOIA to CIA Seeking All Whistleblower Complaints Concerning the Conduct of Former Director Pompeo

Central Intelligence Agency
FOIA Request
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

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, DHS - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Environmental Protection Agency, HHS - Administration for Children and Families
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