Donald Trump is putting together a national-security team full of hardliners

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s CIA director, favors waterboarding.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s CIA director, favors waterboarding.
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

While Donald Trump spoke about being a president “for all Americans” on election night, the cabinet taking shape is decidedly hardline conservative. He plans to nominate Mike Pompeo as CIA director, and has tapped Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama who wrote a handbook on curbing immigration, for US attorney general. For national security advisor, Trump wants Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who has called Islam ”a malignant cancer.”

Pompeo, a congressman from Kansas, is a prominent critic of the nuclear deal president Barack Obama forged with Iran, and tweeted on Nov. 17 that he looked forward to reversing it.

Pompeo has called Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked National Security Agency secrets, a “traitor” who should be “given a death sentence.” He criticized a 2014 Senate report that found certain CIA interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be unconstitutional, and has opposed Obama’s plans to shut down the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Pompeo would have to be confirmed by the Senate and Dianne Feinstein, the US senator from California who authored the 2014 “torture report,” has promised to bring up his views on harsh interrogation during the hearing.

During his campaign, Trump said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Like others in the blueprint for a Trump administration, Pompeo has expressed alarmist views on Muslims in America. He accused Muslim leaders of being “potentially complicit” in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a comment that the Council on American-Islamic Relations denounced as “false and irresponsible.”

Trump campaigned on a proposal to ban Muslims from traveling to the US. Members of his transition team have reportedly floated reinstating a registry for Muslim immigrants, designed by the George W. Bush administration shortly after 9/11. In response to those reports, Trump spokesman Jason Miller claimed Trump had never called for a registry, though Trump did so, quite explicitly, on camera.