With reports currently projecting Rex Tillerson being out of the State Department by the end of the year and Mike Pompeo projected to replace him, the question of who will replace Pompeo at the CIA is of major importance, both politically and in a national security sense.
The same reports from this morning – provided by the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman – indicate that the Trump Administration’s plan would be to put Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton in the role.
Cotton is currently Trump’s best and most loyal national security adviser, and his experiences and authority on the subject make Cotton the best pick for the Trump Administration.
The only drawback here, as I alluded to in the post on Tillerson’s ouster, is the fact that Cotton would have to be replaced.
There’s the risk. That Senate seat is going to be valuable, and taking the right guy out of there and risking the wrong one going in could be damaging to Trump’s legislative goals – the Senate is floundering enough as it is.
Here’s what happens.
If Cotton takes over at the CIA, his replacement is only in office until 2018, after which there’s a special election. If Cotton stays, he’s in office until 2020. The Senate is struggling to get anything done, and a conservative agenda is currently hard enough as it is without risking another bad pick getting in.
So, there is a definite risk there. However, I think it is probably a risk worth taking, considering what Cotton can bring to the table at the CIA.
One of the biggest complaints from the intelligence community about Pompeo is that he is currently too political, and politicization of the intelligence community is something that is bad no matter which party does it. And, while Pompeo is not a bad CIA Director, that political lean isn’t ideal. With Cotton, I think the CIA is more likely to get a hard-line, intelligence-only guy with the right focuses on his radar.
That matters, and that makes Cotton a solid choice here, risks and all.