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

Preguntas Abiertas Sobre los Aliados de Trump

November 4, 2020
Se ha dicho con verdad: "Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres." En el caso del Presidente Donald Trump, un dicho que revela el círculo de corrupción que él ha creado a su alrededor. Veamos los funcionarios de la mayor confianza de Trump, empezando con los miembros de su gabinete y su familia. Así revelamos los tentáculos de la corrupción.

News Roundup: Out of Control

October 30, 2020
The pandemic continues to hit new case records, and the Trump administration is finding new ways to flout longstanding ethics requirements.

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.

OSC Opens Case File in Response to American Oversight’s Pompeo Hatch Act Complaint

October 16, 2020
Pompeo's rush to release Clinton emails before Election Day appears to violate the Hatch Act, and career State Department employees may be at risk.

Investigations Update: Pompeo’s RNC Speech, DeJoy’s Calendars, and Kentucky’s Voter Fraud Task Force

September 9, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Pompeo’s unprecedented convention appearance, the cost of Chad Wolf’s July trip to Portland, and more.

News Roundup: The Political Theater of ‘Operation Legend’

July 24, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the Trump administration has sought to distract from the rising death toll and dwindling medical stockpile with “Operation Legend."

Investigations Update: Trump Administration’s Occupation of Portland, CDC Hospital Data, and the Republican Convention

July 21, 2020
Our latest investigations into allegations of misconduct at the State Department, the federal occupation of U.S. cities, and the ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Top Officials Allowed Pompeo’s Misconduct to Continue, Reveals Ongoing Inquiry

July 20, 2020
According to a whistleblower complaint obtained by American Oversight, a State Department employee repeatedly notified agency leadership about having witnessed “questionable activities” on the part of Secretary Pompeo.

New Lawsuit for Records Related to Pompeo’s Military Housing Arrangements

July 16, 2020
American Oversight is suing for records about the secretary of state's potentially questionable housing arrangements.

Investigations Update: Militarization of Police, Covid-19 in Migrant Detention Centers, and Barr’s Political Interference

July 14, 2020
Here’s a look at the investigations our team has been pursuing through public records requests in the last week.

Investigations Update: Mike Pompeo’s Abuses of Office, Trump’s Loyalty Purges, and Caring for Uninsured Covid-19 Patients

July 8, 2020
From voting rights to the pandemic, here's a look at our new investigations from the past week.

Investigations Update: Family Separation, Unmarked Law Enforcement, and Trump’s Campaign Rallies

June 30, 2020
Here’s a look at the investigations our team has been pursuing through public records requests and Freedom of Information Act litigation in the last week.

New Lawsuit for Records Related to Firing of State Department Inspector General

June 26, 2020
American Oversight is suing for records that can shed light on the multiple scandals that have dogged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since early in his tenure.

News Roundup: A Somber Week After Memorial Day

May 29, 2020
As states across the country enter various phases of “reopening,” sobering news about the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to emerge. 

New Information on Pompeo’s 2017 Trips to His Home State

May 29, 2020
American Oversight has uncovered new information about trips he took to his home state in 2017, when he was still CIA director.

News Roundup: One Firing, Multiple Scandals

May 22, 2020
Trump's firing of the State Department's inspector general has unearthed a series of concerning stories about the conduct of the very person who pressed for the firing — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

American Oversight Requests Expedition of Requests for Records of Pompeo Complaints

May 18, 2020
News reports have indicated that Trump's move to oust the State Department's inspector general was urged by Secretary Mike Pompeo.

Trump Fires State Department Watchdog Investigating Pompeo

May 16, 2020
President Donald Trump’s authoritarian war on oversight continues.

Three Years of American Oversight

March 19, 2020
These are anxious and uncertain times. But as American Oversight marks its third anniversary, our work to expose corruption, self-dealing and other misconduct continues.

News Roundup: Rising Coronavirus Fears and Sinking Public Trust

March 6, 2020
The uncertainty and fear surrounding the coronavirus have laid bare the deadly consequences of President Donald Trump’s demand for obsequious loyalty and a refusal to take responsibility for mistakes.

News Roundup: Trump Has Learned His ‘Lesson’

February 14, 2020
Trump's sights appear to be trained on making the Justice Department his personal political arm for helping allies and punishing perceived enemies.

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Complaints About Mike Pompeo’s Conduct

February 14, 2020
We're suing to shed light on Secretary of State and former CIA Director Pompeo's potentially abusive conduct toward staff and journalists.

News Roundup: Impeachment Report, Border Wall Contracts, and Pompeo’s Meeting with GOP Donors

December 6, 2019
Calling out the administration for failing "to produce a single document" to Congress, the Intelligence Committee's report cited the documents American Oversight obtained through FOIA litigation.

News Roundup: Impeachment Inquiry Goes Public

November 15, 2019
The latest on the impeachment inquiry, plus more on our investigations into Pompeo's political ambitions and threats to voting rights at the state level.

News Roundup: Ukraine-Related Documents, Hurdles for Asylum-Seekers, and Chad Wolf’s Involvement in Family Separation

November 8, 2019
The latest on impeachment and on our investigations into the administration's immigration policies.

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Mike Pompeo’s Outside Political Influences

July 23, 2019
American Oversight has filed a lawsuit as part of its investigation into whether the secretary of state has been subject to inappropriate political influences during his tenure in the Trump administration.

Groups Sue Pompeo for Refusing to Address Trump’s Unlawful Efforts to Hide Putin Meeting Notes

June 18, 2019
The president seized the notes illegally — federal law requires the secretary of state to preserve agency records and refer illegal conduct to the Justice Department.

News Roundup: Above the Law

May 3, 2019
From his mixing of business with public service to his resistance to congressional investigations, Trump and his administration have been operating as if they are above the law.
Show all updates

Related Documents

November 6, 2020

No Records Response from State Regarding Complaints to Diplomatic Security Concerning the Conduct of Susan Pompeo

Department of State
Agency Reply
November 6, 2020

No Records Response from State Regarding Complaints to Diplomatic Security Concerning the Conduct of Sec. Pompeo

Department of State
Agency Reply
October 30, 2020

Rejection from State Regarding Communications of Key Officials Under Sec. Pompeo’s Leadership

Department of State
Agency Reply
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 10, 2020

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

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