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  1. Florida Politics

CIA nominee agrees Russia tried to interfere in election

CIA Director-designate Rep. Michael Pompeo, R-Kan. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) DCMC114
Published Jan. 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA told Congress on Thursday that he accepts the findings in an intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the U.S. election with the goal of helping Trump win, even though the president-elect has been skeptical of some of the report's conclusions.

"Everything I've seen suggests to me that the report has an analytical product that is sound," said Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican congressman.

As head of the CIA, Pompeo would be responsible for bringing to Trump intelligence assessments the president may find politically unappealing, including additional information on Russia's interference with the American democratic process. Pompeo promised senators on the intelligence committee that he would do so.

"My obligation as director of CIA is to tell every policy maker the facts as best the intelligence agency has developed them," Pompeo said. He is currently a member of the House intelligence committee.

Housing secretary

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson defended his experience and credentials Thursday to serve as the nation's new housing secretary, turning to his life story to show that he understands the needs of the country's most vulnerable.

Trump wants Carson, a former White House rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a sprawling agency with 8,300 employees and a budget of about $48 billion.

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, House and Urban Affairs Committee, the famed neurosurgeon talked about growing up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education and worked numerous jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

"I have actually in my life understood what housing insecurity was," he told lawmakers.

Democrats in the GOP-run Senate questioned his experience. Carson said one of the things he's learned in private life as part of various boards is how to find a good CEO. He said a good CEO doesn't necessarily know everything about running a particular business, but he knows how to select people and use their talents.

Defense secretary

Retired Gen. James Mattis on Thursday cruised toward likely confirmation as defense secretary, easily prevailing in a Senate vote granting him an exemption to run the Pentagon as a recently retired officer. At his confirmation hearing, he called Russia the nation's No. 1 security threat, accusing its leader of trying to "break" NATO.

Rubio-Tillerson: After repeatedly grilling Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for secretary of state, on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would not say whether he would support the nomination. The two were expected to meet on Thursday. "We're still working through it, so you know, we'll have a decision here soon," Rubio told CNN on Thursday.

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