CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo found himself tongue-tied on Thursday morning when questioned directly about his use of politicized Wikileaks information on Twitter, following his pledge to "pursue the facts." The exchange highlighted the blatant contradictions between Pompeo's words and his record.
Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA Director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), faced the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday morning in a relatively short two and a half hour hearing, during which numerous Senators noted that they were saving certain questions for a later, closed hearing.
But when it was Senator Angus King’s (I-ME) turn to ask questions, the hearing turned briefly heated. Pompeo was seemingly taken off-guard by King’s question about a tweet Pompeo had sent citing Wikileaks’ hack of the DNC emails as “proof” that “the fix was in.”
KING: On July 24th, 2016, you sent the following Twitter: ‘Need further proof that the fix was in from President Obama on down? BUSTED: 19, 252 emails from DNC leaked by Wikileaks.’ Do you think Wikileaks is a reliable source of information?
POMPEO: I do not.
KING: And the fact that you used the word ‘proof,’ ‘need proof,’ that would indicate that you did think it was a credible source of information.
POMPEO: Senator King, I have never believed that Wikileaks was a credible source of information.
KING: Well, how do you explain your Twitter?
POMPEO (stuttering): I don’t, I, I’d have to go back, uh —
KING: Your tweet, sorry, I don’t want to be accused of using the wrong term.
POMPEO: I appreciate that. I’d have to go back and take a look at that, Senator. But I can assure you, I have, I have some deep understanding of Wikileaks and I have never viewed it as a credible source of information for the United States or for anyone else.
KING: Thank you for that. I appreciate your candor here today.
This sequence is boggling on its own, but becomes even more so when put in context of King’s other questions. Just seconds before this exchange, King had asked Pompeo if he could commit to following the evidence and giving intelligence to President-elect Trump even if it was politically inconvenient for the leader. Pompeo pledged that he could provide an unbiased, politically neutral intelligence to the president, regardless of Trump’s demands, with a “promise to pursue the facts wherever they take us.”
Pompeo’s insistence that he would honor “the facts” and that he does not consider Wikileaks to be a credible information source may sound assuring to some observers now. But his own actions on Twitter put those promises in serious doubt, as does his flustered reaction when being called out.
If he can change his mind so advantageously on the issue of which organizations are worthy of credibility, it does not bode well for the sincerity of his promise to adhere to the facts if his likely new boss wishes otherwise.