U.S. national security agencies including the FBI are under assault from their leaders’ “political mindset” that threatens to undermine the core mission of protecting Americans, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview.
Asked about the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Mr. Pompeo said it’s imperative to “strip out the politics” from the agency’s day-to-day operations. He warned of dangerous consequences “when you start prosecuting your enemies.”
“If you put political leaders there that have an agenda that is not connected to the mission set, whether that’s [the Defense Department] or the intelligence community, including the FBI … if they’ve begun to run operations that reflect politics, not excellence in mission, it is very dangerous,” Mr. Pompeo said during the interview in Seoul, South Korea.
He said U.S. law-enforcement institutions, including the CIA and the intelligence community, “have to strip out politics.”
“It is about leadership and focus on mission, and I fear that we’ve moved a long way from that and that we’re seeing that play out in each of these institutions,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Documents related to the search of Mr. Trump’s home revealed that the Justice Department is investigating the former president for possible violations of the Espionage Act, connected to his possession of classified material.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said he approved the search of Mr. Trump’s home. FBI agents removed 11 boxes of documents, including some labeled “top secret.”
Mr. Pompeo didn’t comment directly on the allegations, saying “we’ll all see how the facts unfold here.”
But he said there is a partisan double-standard at play. Mr. Pompeo pointed to his role as a House lawmaker on a special committee that investigated the fatal terrorist attack on U.S. diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, during the Obama administration, under the watch of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“It [the raid on Mr. Trump’s home] looks for all the world like this was a decision that is very different than the decision that was made when I sat on the Benghazi committee,” Mr. Pompeo told The Times. “I have a history with … classified documents in the hands of former senior government officials. We negotiated our tail off with Secretary Clinton to try to get that [email] server to get those documents back under control. She fought it like the dickens, then used BleachBit, right? But we didn’t raid her home, right? We didn’t go send a bunch of FBI agents in with no notice and go take this stuff without consent. We just, we didn’t roll that way.”
Mrs. Clinton testified for more than 11 hours before the panel in 2015. The FBI said her tech team used BleachBit, a software program, to delete emails from her private server that was used to store official data in violation of federal rules.
Mr. Pompeo said U.S. institutions such as the FBI “are under assault in ways that are fundamentally different than I have seen.” He criticized his predecessor at the helm of the CIA, John Brennan, for helping to politicize national-security agencies, including signing a statement during the 2020 presidential campaign saying that scandalous stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop were likely Russian disinformation.
“When I took over the CIA, I took it over for Director Brennan, who had made that a political place,” he said. “Director Brennan and some of the other senior intelligence officials signed a letter about Hunter Biden’s laptop during the  campaign, right? They are now former government officials, but this was the political mindset that had been brought into these core institutions. I would add the Department of Defense today too, in the sense that there is real risk that we are no longer focused on the mission. These organizations have missions. These missions matter.”