Mike Pompeo For National Security Adviser (And Secretary Of State)?

Some reports are suggesting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might take on the additional role of National Security Adviser.

In the wake of the surprise departure of former National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday, speculation is naturally turning to who might replace him as Trump’s fourth National Security Adviser in just three years. In that regard, CNN is reporting that one of the names being floated inside the White House is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

Just one day after President Donald Trump dismissed national security adviser John Bolton, administration officials are discussing the possibility of replacing Bolton with his chief rival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Under this scenario, the country’s top diplomat would absorb the national security adviser role and do both jobs, according to a senior administration official and a source familiar with the possibilities.

That would make Pompeo the second person in history to have both jobs at the same time. The first, Henry Kissinger, was already President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser when he was appointed secretary of state in 1973, and filled both roles for two years.

It’s unclear how seriously Trump is considering this possibility, and a source familiar with the process says that Pompeo has given the President a list of other names to consider. On Wednesday, when asked about his top picks to replace Bolton, the President said, “I have five people that want it very much… Five people that I consider very highly qualified, good people.”

Tuesday night, attending a Washington charity ball with his wife, Pompeo laughed with friends about Bolton being fired. The two were often at odds with each other and had even stopped talking to each other outside formal meetings. Pompeo was jovial and his mentality was “what a day, what a life, what a job,” explained a source who was at the event.

For now, Pompeo will remain the President’s primary foreign policy adviser, explained another source close to the White House.”He is going to act as national security adviser at least in the near term. Trump is happy with that,” the person said.

An administration official cautions that “the Kissinger model” could be dangerous for Pompeo, especially given his dominant position within the administration. With a dual role, Pompeo risks becoming too powerful for Trump’s taste, the source said.

The White House and State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

As noted, the move to have the Secretary of State serve simultaneously as National Security Adviser is not unprecedented. Henry Kissinger took office as President Nixon’s National Security Adviser beginning in 1969 and continued in that office under President Ford until 1975 when he was replaced by Brent Scowcroft. While still serving as Secretary of State, Kissinger was also nominated by President Nixon to serve as Secretary of State, succeeding William Rogers in 1973 and held on to that position until the end of the Ford Presidency in 1977. Generally speaking, though, the two positions have been held by different people, and indeed often people with differing points of view about foreign policy. Of course, this because they were appointed by Presidents who valued differing points of view rather than being surrounded by “yes” men.

Regardless of whether or not Trump actually appoints Pompeo to this position, something that would not require Senate approval since the National Security Adviser is considered to be a member of the President’s personal staff, remains to be seen. Even if he doesn’t though, one thing that is clear is that, in addition to the factors that have already been cited for Bolton’s abrupt departure, another factor that led to the break is the extent to which Bolton had lost the internal battle with Pompeo for dominance in the formulation of Administration foreign policy. Additionally, as both The Hill and The Washington Post noted, Bolton’s departure gives Pompeo much more power and influence in the Administration. Whether that will expand to include taking over Bolton’s job remains to be seen.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Mu says:

    My guess is Stephen Miller, as it’s the only promotion he can give him without having the go through the senate.

  2. Kathy says:

    Never mind. Is Trump ever going to appoint someone to serve as president?

  3. mattbernius says:

    My bet is on this happening. And that, when I asked him about it yesterday, Dr Joyner had the right response:

    It’s, as you suggest, not without precedent. I don’t have issue with it, to be honest, because of that and because it just doesn’t matter. No process can be devised to save us from a President who ignores it.


    It’s clear that Pompeo wanted Bolton out. And given how Trump operates, having Pompeo serve in both positions makes sense.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    The sidebar includes a James Joyner post Who Is Mike Pompeo? He makes it pretty clear the real problem with Pompeo is that he’s a RWNJ. But, with Trumpsky, I guess that’s inevitable.

  5. CSK says:

    Trump has run out of options. What remotely competent outsider would want to work for him? He’s down to Pompeo, Stephen Miller, and Jared Kushner.

    I suppose there’s always Seb Gorka.

  6. Gustopher says:

    If Pompeo does get the job, then Trump really will be running government like a business — fire someone, and then make someone else do the work of two jobs.

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Toadie from Frog Hollow as NSA?
    At this point, why the fuq not?
    This administration can’t get any more fuqed up.

  8. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    This administration can’t get any more fuqed up.

    You jinxed it, you moron! Now they have to prove you wrong.

    Seriously though, there is no bottom to bottom out on. However bad you think they can get, they will outdo that. Ivanka could be NSC Director. Or Melania. Or Barron. Or Eric. Or Eric Prince.

    There might be an issue with Barron’s age.


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