Pompeo introduces himself to U.S. diplomats

- Mei 01, 2018

New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday formally greeted the diplomats he now oversees, admitting that he has “a great deal to learn” about their work but praising their patriotism and promising he won’t be an aloof leader.

Pompeo, who succeeds the widely unpopular Rex Tillerson as America’s chief diplomat, spoke briefly to a packed house in the C Street lobby of the department’s main building. Although he was confirmed last Thursday, Pompeo immediately went on a trip to meet with NATO and Middle Eastern allies, so Tuesday was his first full day in Foggy Bottom.

U.S. Foreign and Civil Service officers cheered and clapped as the former congressman and CIA director arrived in the building.

“I feel like I know you,” Pompeo told the audience. “You’re patriots and great Americans.”

Pompeo said President Donald Trump will visit the department on Wednesday for a ceremonial swearing-in of his new secretary of state. It will be Trump’s first visit to the State Department since he won the presidency.

Trump fired Tillerson in March over what he said were policy differences. Although diplomats greeted Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO, with similar enthusiasm when he arrived at the department, many grew unhappy with his leadership over time, saying he ignored their expertise and isolated himself.


Pompeo, who spoke without notes while standing atop a set of stairs, said he will lay out his priorities in more detail during upcoming meetings with staffers. A town hall is in the works.

He made clear he won’t barricade himself in the executive suites, but rather intended to get to know every corner of the department as well as its sister agency, USAID.

At one point, he jokingly indicated he wasn’t even sure where his new office is located: “I think it’s the 7th floor, right?” (It is.)

Earlier Tuesday, Pompeo sent a short email to the staff, praising them and saying he was eager to work with them to “get our swagger back.” In his remarks Tuesday, he promised to lay out what he meant by “swagger” in future communications with his new staff.


 

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