White House

Trump blames ‘political games’ for delaying Pompeo’s confirmation as CIA chief

President Donald Trump, accompanied by CIA Director-designate Mike Pompeo, left, waits to speak at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by CIA Director-designate Mike Pompeo, left, waits to speak at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. AP

At a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday, President Donald Trump took a shot at Democrats, saying they were playing politics with the confirmation of Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, his pick to head the agency.

An objection from three Democratic senators delayed the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm Pompeo as the CIA’s new director Friday.

Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut objected Friday to what they said was “a rushed confirmation” of Pompeo. They asked to push the vote off until Monday to allow senators to debate the nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., eventually agreed, but not before bashing Democrats for leaving the CIA post unfilled over the weekend.

Trump isn’t very happy about the delay, either.

“They’re playing little political games,” Trump told the 400 CIA employees assembled in the lobby of the agency’s building on Saturday.

He lavished praise on Pompeo, who had accompanied him to the CIA.

“You have somebody who’s coming on who’s extraordinary,” Trump said. “Everything he’s done has been a home run.”

Trump said he’d known he wanted to hire Pompeo right away. He was so confident, in fact, that he’d canceled eight other interviews for the job, he said.

“I met Mike Pompeo and he was the only guy I met,” Trump said. “I didn’t want to meet anybody else. I said cancel them, cancel them.”

When Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that he’d chosen Pompeo to lead the CIA, he said, Ryan was the only person who wasn’t totally thrilled.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to lose this guy,’ ” Trump said.

“But you will be getting a total star. You will be getting a total gem,” he said of Pompeo. “He’s just a gem.”

Trump also said the media had wrongly reported that he was at war with the intelligence community over reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to influence the presidential election.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, he said.

“I just really wanted to say, ‘I love you. I respect you,’ ” Trump told the CIA employees. “There’s nobody I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. We’re going to start winning again.”

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise

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