US lawmakers confirm Mike Pompeo to lead CIA
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON


Lawmaker Mike Pompeo received Senate backing Monday to lead America’s spy agency.

His confirmation comes amid strained relations between the White House and the intelligence community, setting him up for a bumpy future as he prepares to lead an agency that has been the target of President Donald Trump's heated rhetoric on more than one occasion.

Seeking to smooth tensions, Trump visited CIA headquarters Saturday and pledged before 400 employees to support the agency.

The 66-32 vote to see Pompeo become the next CIA director was largely along party lines, but Republican lawmaker, Rand Paul, joined the vast majority of Democrats.

In opposing the nomination, he said in an op-ed piece on the website, Rare, he did it "because I worry that his desire for security will trump his defense of liberty.

“The new CIA Director described a congressional report on the CIA’s past use of torture as ‘a narcissistic self-cleansing,’” he said. 

“Senators who voted to release a torture oversight report were ‘quintessentially at odds with [their] duty to [their] country,’ Paul wrote. "I couldn’t disagree more."

Pompeo, 53, has carved out a staunchly conservative reputation throughout his time in the House of Representatives where he has been a member of the tea party.

He was among a host of candidates that Republicans hoped to vote on Friday when Trump was sworn into office, but Democrats successfully delayed the vote until Monday when they could hold debate.

The move was met with consternation by Republicans.

“What did delay and foot-dragging change? Absolutely nothing.” Republican Sen. John Cornyn tweeted after the vote.

"‘The president needs his national security Cabinet, and particularly his CIA Director at his side, a Cabinet position integral to keeping our country safe," he said prior to the vote.

"I have no doubt as director he will do all that he can to make sure that those serving in the intelligence community have the tools and the respect they need and deserve to keep America safe. So we need to get this done and to get this done without further delay," he added.

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