The US Senate has confirmed former Congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA director while Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be the Secretary of State moved a step closer to approval as Donald Trump’s Cabinet takes shape.
Pompeo, who was confirmed by the Senate by 66-32 votes, replaces John Brennan, a political appointee, whose term ended on January 20 with that of Barack Obama as the US President.
Later, Pompeo was sworn in last night as CIA director.
“You are stepping up to lead the finest intelligence-gathering operation the world has ever seen,” Vice President Mike Pence said during the swearing-in ceremony.
“The men and women serving under your command give true meaning to the word courage,” he said.
Significantly, Trump, who succeeded Obama as the 45th President of the US, made his first visit to a federal agency to CIA headquarters in Langley.
Pompeo, 53, is only the third member of Trump’s cabinet to take his post after Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were sworn in Friday.
On Pompeo’s conformation, Senator John McCain, in a statement, said the new Director of the CIA must focus on uncovering facts about the many complex national security threats confronting the nation.
“Now is the time to turn the page on our discussions of old programmes and activities, which we have thoroughly reviewed and addressed,” he said.
Congressman Davin Nunes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Pompeo with his deep background in intelligence and military affairs, he is confident will serve the intelligence community well and make vital contributions to national security.
“At a time when Americans face escalating threats from both terror groups and state entities, it’s reassuring that someone with as much experience and knowledge as Mike will be leading one of the nation’s premier intelligence agencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, a key Senate panel approved the nomination of Tillerson as the Secretary of State.
This has paved the way for the Senate to formally vote on his nomination following which Tillerson would occupy the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department as the top American diplomat.
The position has been vacant since January 20 when John Kerry’s term demitted office with outgoing president Obama.
Even as Trump had nominated Tillerson as his Secretary of State much in advance, the Senate has not been able to confirm him because of some reservations by a few lawmakers, including from Trump’s own Republican party.
The approval by Senate Foreign relations Committee came after Senator McCain and Senator Marco Rubio—both of the Republican party—announced that they will support his nomination.