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August 20, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has quickly risen from an obscure Kansas congressman best known for pushing Benghazi conspiracy theories to President Trump's CIA director and then top diplomat, "the last survivor of the president's original national-security team and his most influential adviser on international affairs," Susan Glasser writes in a new profile of Pompeo in The New Yorker. But in early 2016, he backed Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in the Republican presidential primary, and on the day of the Kansas caucuses, he stood in for Rubio and savaged Trump.

Trump, like President Barack Obama, would be "an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution," Pompeo told a booing crowd of GOP caucus-goers in Wichita. Noting that candidate Trump said he would order soldiers to commit war crimes and they would obey, Pompeo said U.S. service members "don't swear an allegiance to President Trump or any other president. ... They take an oath to defend our Constitution." Backstage, Trump demanded to know who was thrashing him, Glasser recounts.

"I realized, listening to the speech of Mike Pompeo back in 2016, that I've never really heard him go off on Trump in a video form," Glasser recounts in a video accompanying her profile. "Mike Pompeo is very, very sensitive about even the appearance of being caught out disagreeing with Donald Trump. I think he is worried about the idea that Donald Trump is gonna remember back to March 5, 2016."

Trump reportedly was reminded of it after announcing Pompeo as CIA director, but he kept him anyway. Now Pompeo is "among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump," a former senior White House official told Glasser. A former U.S. ambassador was more blunt: "He's like a heat-seeking missile for Trump's ass."

Pompeo's biography is interesting and impressive — first in his class at West Point, former Army captain, Harvard Law graduate, unsuccessful Koch-funded Kansas businessman, congressman, and now Trump whisperer and, as Glasser puts it, probably "the most conservative, ideologically driven secretary of state ever to serve." Read the entire profile at The New Yorker. Peter Weber

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