The Hypocrisy of Mike Pompeo

Many of those around Donald Trump have evinced a certain moral or political flexibility, but few have eclipsed the purely distilled, cynical hypocrisy of Mike Pompeo. As a Tea Party, Koch-backed member of Congress, he built his political reputation almost solely on two issues: lambasting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the Benghazi attack and her email server, and more broadly, attacking the Obama administration’s Iran deal at every turn. Now, Pompeo—who in April passed his two-year mark as the nation’s top diplomat—has spent much of the last year mired in a widening series of questions about his own leadership at the State Department and alleged use of taxpayer resources for personal errands and to bolster his own political ambitions.
Pompeo has nearly unparalleled longevity in an administration not known for that, even earning a promotion from CIA director to the nation’s top Cabinet position. His staying power has come due in large part to his unyielding loyalty to President Trump, who Pompeo had opposed during the campaign (he had backed Marco Rubio) and had warned would be an “authoritarian president” to a Kansas audience. Pompeo had dismissed the reality TV star’s candidacy as a media sideshow, saying “It’s time to turn down the lights on the circus.” But by October 2016, he was standing in the spin room at the presidential debate singing Trump’s praises.In the nearly four years since, Pompeo has earned remarkable credibility with Trump; the commander in chief once joked to New York’s Olivia Nuzzi: “I argue with everyone except Pompeo.” In my conversations with Mike Pompeo last year, as I researched a profile of him , he refused in turn to cite a single area where he’d ever disagreed with the president.
His attached-at-the-hip approach had, by last year, positioned Pompeo as one of the top contenders for the MAGA crowd’s presidential nomination in 2024. He made so many trips back to Kansas political events last year that his home state’s newspaper wrote an editorial entitled “Mike Pompeo, either quit and run for US Senate in Kansas or focus on your day job.” Pompeo, the Kansas City Star said, should “stop hanging out here every chance he gets.” Ultimately, Pompeo decided not to run for Senate—a move surely influenced by his months as a controversial figure in the president’s impeachment investigation last fall and winter.Months after weathering that storm, the secretary of state is facing new questions after the surprise firing last week of the department’s inspector general—who was apparently pressing Pompeo on several investigations. Questions have also come up about his wife’s role in the department, including an unprecedented government security detail assigned to her, and allegations that the couple have relied on State Department staffers and security aides to pick up take-out food and walk their dog.
For a politician who spent years in Congress railing about the misuse of government funds and improper conduct, it’s an extraordinary turnabout. Amid the controversaries, time and again, Secretary Mike Pompeo has conveniently taken stances that Congressman Mike Pompeo never would have tolerated.During his years on the House Republicans’ select committee on Benghazi, Pompeo railed against the State Department’s lack of cooperation with Congress and Hillary Clinton’s lack of support for her employees as secretary. “We were stonewalled by the State Department and by former Secretary Clinton,” Pompeo told NPR in 2015. “It was the case that the State Department came out after the event and told the American people a tale that just turned out not to have been true.”
“The Obama administration has fought us at every turn,” Congressman Pompeo also said that year. “This investigation can only conclude when all the facts are in and the truth has been revealed.”