While most senators questioning Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) chose to focus on subject matters like terrorism, torture, and intelligence gathering during his hearing to become the next director of the CIA, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) used her time during the hearing to focus on his views on climate change and equal protection laws for LGBT CIA workers.
After Pompeo told Harris he believed the findings of the report on Russian activities during the presidential election provided to the intelligence community, the senator brought up the nominee's previous record on gay rights, saying:
“Your voting record and stated position on gay marriage and the importance of having a 'traditional family structure' for raising children is pretty clear. I disagree with your position but of course you’re entitled to your position. I don’t want that however to impact on that matter — the recruitment or retention of patriotic LGBT women and men in the CIA, some of whom have taken great risks to their lives for our country. Can you commit to me that your personal views on this issue will remain your personal views and will not impact internal policies that you put in place at the CIA?”
The nominee replied by citing his own experience managing his security company and an oilfield equipment company:
“In my life as a private businessman … I treated each and every member of the workforce I was responsible for at those times with the dignity and respect, and demanded of them the same things that I demanded of every other person that was working as part of my team.”
And when Harris asked if the congressman would commit to providing LGBT CIA employees with equal “childcare services, family benefits, and accompanied post for dependence,” Pompeo said stayed away from specifics, reiterating that he would execute “appropriate and equal” treatment, but added that he “can't imagine” putting policies in place that would be discriminatory to any CIA employees.
Along the lines of equal protection, Pompeo also committed to not stifling recruitment or retention of Muslim intelligence officials.
Then, Harris asked Pompeo about the CIA's acknowledgement of the “impact of climate change” on global instability. Pompeo responded, in part, saying that reports of climate change “are part of that foreign intelligence collection."
And when Harris brought up the fact that Pompeo “questioned” the validity of climate change science, he said he preferred not to “get into the details of climate debates.”
“My role is going to be so different and unique from that,” Pompeo added. “I stand by the things that I’ve said with respect to that issue.”