Factbox: Five facts about Mike Pompeo, tapped for secretary of state

(Reuters) – Following are five facts about U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, who President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced will replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

– Pompeo, 54, regularly briefs Trump on intelligence matters, and is considered one of the most hawkish voices on North Korea in Trump’s inner circle.

– Pompeo has downplayed the extent of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying Moscow has sought to influence American elections for decades. In February, he defended talks he had that month at CIA headquarters with Russian spy chiefs.

– Like Trump, Pompeo is an outspoken critic of Iran and has called for scrapping the 2015 deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. In October, he said Iran was “mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region.”

– Pompeo has supported the U.S. government’s sweeping collection of Americans’ communications data. In an opinion piece published in 2016, he called for restarting the bulk collection of domestic telephone metadata and combining it with financial and lifestyle information into one searchable database.

– Before taking the reins at the CIA in January, Pompeo was a conservative Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas. He is a retired Army officer and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and Harvard Law School.

(Writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bernadette Baum)