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Secretary of State nominee Pompeo failed to disclose business ties to Chinese government

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo testifies Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, failed to disclose business ties that he had to an oil and gas company owned by the Chinese government during the confirmation process for his current post as CIA director.

Pompeo’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were taking place at the time that this article was published.

Here's what you need to know

McClatchy broke the story after obtaining documents from Sentry International, a Kansas-based business that Pompeo owned. According to McClatchy, Pompeo owned “imported oilfield equipment from a company owned by the Chinese government.”

Before his confirmation hearing to be CIA director, Pompeo filled out a questionnaire which included the question:

“During the past 10 years, have you or your spouse received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transactions with, a foreign government or any entity controlled by a foreign government? If so, please provide details.”

Pompeo answered "no."

Before being appointed to be CIA director, Pompeo was a Republican member of Congress representing Kansas.

A spokesperson for the CIA told McClatchy that Pompeo did not knowingly hide this information from the Senate, arguing that he may not even have known about this business connection:

“Mr. Pompeo was president of an American company in Kansas that sold products made in many different countries, Canada and China to name just two. In fact, the paper clips the company used were from Taiwan. He would have no reason to know details on the layers of companies that may or may not have had ownership interests in each overseas company that supplied products to his Kansas company.”

However, in 2010, a Democratic challenger to Pompeo for his seat in Congress brought up this business deal in an attack ad before the Congressional election that year. Pompeo directly responded to this ad in an interview that same year with local news outlet, The Wichita Eagle. Responding to accusations that he had outsourced American jobs to China, The Wichita Eagle reported:

"Pompeo has vehemently denied that, saying he has created American jobs by importing oilfield equipment from China and installing and servicing it in the U.S."

The paper continued:

“Pompeo characterized the Chinese SJ Petro as a supplier to his company, part of an international supply chain of products that Sentry buys and sells, sometimes under its own name and sometimes under the name of the original manufacturer.”

In his opening statements at his confirmation hearing, Pompeo criticized China which he said has “exploited weak U.S. trade policy and leeched wealth and secrets from our economy.”

Here's how this could affect Pompeo's confirmation hearing

While Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director by a vote of 66-32 with 14 Democrats voting to confirm him, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has promised to oppose his nomination as secretary of state, and Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) will be absent due to his ongoing cancer treatments.

Pompeo cannot be confirmed without at least some Democrats coming across the aisle to vote for him.

The communications director for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told McClatchy:

“We expect Director Pompeo to be able to explain exactly what financial entanglement he had with the Chinese government and why he failed to disclose it.”
One last thing…
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