Trump’s new secretary of state is a Tea Party Republican who couldn’t be more different from Rex Tillerson

Incoming secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

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Incoming secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.
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Leah Millis/Reuters

  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo is set to become the next secretary of state, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday.
  • Pompeo will replace Rex Tillerson, who has long been at odds with Trump over his approach to various foreign-policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Pompeo is a Tea Party Republican who regularly defends Trump and shares his aggressive approach to international diplomacy.

Mike Pompeo is leaving his post as the director of the CIA to become the next secretary of state.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump announced Pompeo would replace current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel is expected to be the spy agency’s new chief.

Pompeo could help the State Department recast its image after a rocky 14 months under Tillerson, who dramatically cut department funds and reshaped its management, much to the dismay of longtime American diplomats and foreign-policy experts.

Tillerson’s support for the Iran nuclear deal and his cautious approach to diplomatic affairs, often put him at odds with Trump.

“We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump said of Tillerson following Tuesday’s announcement. “When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently.”

Pompeo, on the other hand, adamantly opposes the Iran nuclear deal and reportedly has a much stronger personal relationship with the president.

In January, Bloomberg reported that Pompeo is one of the first people to greet Trump in the Oval Office every morning ahead of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. Pompeo has also repeatedly defended Trump, including his controversial use of Twitter.

“I’ve actually seen it help us,” Pompeo said last year when asked whether Trump’s unpredictable tweets made his job at the CIA any harder. “I have seen things the president has put on his Twitter account actually have a real-world impact on our capacity to understand what’s going on in other places in the world.”

Pompeo also tends to be more outspoken when it comes to foreign affairs, a characteristic one expert says makes him relatable to Trump.

“Pompeo is very much a hard-liner on issues of national security, broadly,” Ian Bremmer, the head of the Eurasia Group, told NPR. “He’s smart, but he’s also quite bombastic, and that plays well with Trump. But that doesn’t necessarily support a balanced national-security policy.”

Pompeo, a graduate of Harvard Law and the US Military Academy at West Point, rose to political prominence in 2010 on the heels of the Tea Party movement. He served as a congressman from Kansas’ fourth district until Trump appointed him to be CIA director in 2016.

He is expected to officially join the State Department when Tillerson leaves the post on March 31.