Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) laughed when Ask a Pol pressed him on the unexpected retirement of Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick after just shy of 18 months as head of the Pentagon’s new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).
“Maybe he sees something that we don't know,” Rounds laughed.
While Rounds, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner and Vice-Chair Marco Rubio all pushed Kirkpatrick in recent months for AARO’s failure to provide whistleblowers a place where they felt comfortable talking, Kirkpatrick told Politico he “accomplished” what he set out to at AARO.
“I’m ready to move on. I have accomplished everything I said I was going to do,” Kirkpatrick said.
Just last week, Rounds told Ask a Pol Kirkpatrick had yet to win his confidence.
“I think the judgment, for me, is not yet decided on AARO,” Rounds told us.
Rounds says he’s unfamiliar with Kirkpatrick’s deputy, Tim Phillips, who is slated to temporarily replace him as the head of AARO next month.
Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s interview with Sen. Mike Rounds, slightly edited for clarity.