WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged -- after prodding by lawmakers -- that he backs the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton and ultimately help Donald Trump. Pompeo, who previously was Trump's CIA director, was pressed by Democrats on whether he accepted that finding during testimony Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But that was only after he initially said the judgment that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to help Trump win "was the least confirmed, that is, there was the least support for that" in the report issued by the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency in January 2017, a few weeks before Trump took office. The findings continue to present an awkward dilemma for Trump's national security advisers, who seek to stand by the intelligence community even as the president frequently denounces the continuing investigation into Russian meddling by special counsel Robert Mueller as a "witch hunt" and assert that the Russians actually were working to help Clinton. On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen professed ignorance when asked about the findings.
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency wants to create a massive surveillance database by resurrecting a U.S. telephone records collection program, but some senators questioned what limits he would accept. CIA nominee Mike Pompeo, currently a Republican representative from Kansas, has called on Congress to reverse its mid-2015 decision to rein in the phone metadata collection program run by the National Security Agency, a sister agency to the CIA that focuses on signals intelligence. Congress should allow surveillance agencies to collect "all metadata" and combine it with "publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database," Pompeo said in an opinion piece he co-authored in January 2016. Senators questioned that position during a confirmation hearing Thursday. "So you basically would get the Congress and the country back in the business of collecting millions and millions of phone records from law-abiding people," said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.