US Senate confirms Mike Pompeo as CIA director

Pompeo’s confirmation came despite concerns of some lawmakers that he might expand surveillance and allow the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" widely considered torture.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

In this file photo Representative Mike Pompeo arrives to testify before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination to be director of the CIA at Capitol Hill in Washington, US, January 12, 2017.

The US Senate confirmed Representative Mike Pompeo to be the Central Intelligence Agency director on Monday.

The confirmation came despite some lawmakers' concerns that Pompeo might expand surveillance or allow the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" widely considered torture.

As voting continued, there were 67 "yes" votes, more than enough to confirm Pompeo, and 30 voted against. Almost all the opposition was from Democrats.

Republicans had hoped to push through Pompeo's confirmation on Friday, but Democrats balked, arguing that a CIA director had never been appointed on Inauguration Day.

The delay drew criticism on Saturday from Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer, who charged that Democrats were "playing politics with national security."

Republicans were also hoping to get Trump's pick for US attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, installed swiftly.

Tillerson’s nomination advances

Meanwhile, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved President Trump's choice for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil chairman Rex Tillerson.

Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to become US Secretary of State on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, January 11, 2017.         (Reuters)

The vote was 11-10, with every committee Republican backing Tillerson and every Democrat opposing his nomination.

Tillerson is likely to be confirmed for the position when the matter comes before the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-seat majority.

Tillerson received a major boost when Senator Marco Rubio, one of three Republicans who had expressed doubts about him, announced he will support Tillerson for the post despite serious reservations.

Rubio said he still had concerns about Tillerson's positions on human rights.

But he stressed that given the "uncertainty" about the direction of US foreign policy, "it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy."

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the other Republicans who had expressed reservations about Tillerson and his past dealings with Russia, gave their blessing on Sunday.

TRTWorld and agencies