At his first White House Cabinet meeting, former Congressman Mike Pompeo famously told media he wasn’t going to say “a damn thing in front” of them. He broke his silence recently in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon.
The CIA Director personally delivers the Presidential Daily Briefing to President Donald Trump each day, and Pompeo tells the Free Beacon the President turns to the CIA for answers on broad and complex questions.
“And so when you say, ‘Mr. President we’ve got work to do on that one,’ he says: ‘What do you need to go get it done?’ And he has been willing to give us the scope and the authority to go do it, and I know they’ll hold us accountable too,” Pompeo said.
In his first weeks on the job, the former Congressman from Wichita said the CIA worked to identify where they needed additional authority or policy guidance. Pompeo said the CIA had authority to use some tools, but the previous administration didn’t allow their use. Pompeo said the President has authorized most of his requests for operations, analysis or technology.
“Look our primary mission is foreign intelligence. That is at the core of what we do, and so the ability to go collect against the most difficult places, the most difficult targets in a way that is not one-off, that is deep and robust and redundant is something this agency is really good at when they are allowed to do it. And the president is going to go let us do it,” Pompeo said.
He spoke at length about the threat from North Korea and on the Iran nuclear deal, but he saved some of his harshest words for the media’s “insatiable demand for leaks.” Pompeo said he is deadly focused on finding out how the leaks are happening and identifying the sources of leaks.
“It matters to me personally,” he said. “We have CIA officers who will get killed as a result of these. And I don’t want to have to go talk to their family members and say, ‘Yup, this young man, this young woman died as a direct result of some information that was published by a media source that was released from our organization’ or frankly, from our government. This is deadly business so we are deadly focused on pushing back against it.”
Read the interview here.