President Donald Trump hailed newly-minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a “true American hero” while alluding to a boost of energy at the State Department during a ceremony marking the agency leader’s swearing in on Wednesday.
In his first remarks at the State Department since becoming president, Trump praised Pompeo’s “exceptional leadership” at the Central Intelligence Agency, which he headed before being named to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The president also appeared to reference the waning morale under Tillerson, who aggressively pushed to shrink the State Department and some of its diplomatic functions.
“I must say that's more spirit than I've heard from the State Department in a long time, many years,” the president said while speaking alongside Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials. “We can say many years and maybe many decades. It's going to be a fantastic start, a fantastic day. That spirit will only be magnified.”
Pompeo was officially sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last Thursday shortly after the Senate confirmed him as the 70th U.S. secretary of state by a vote of 57-42.
In his remarks following Trump on Wednesday, Pompeo discussed his desire to bring the agency’s “swagger” back, echoing comments he delivered to State Department staff the day before.
“The United States diplomatic corps needs to be in every corner, every stretch of the world, executing missions on behalf of this country and it is my humble, noble undertaking to help you achieve that,” he told State staffers on Wednesday.
Pompeo’s confirmation was temporarily thrown into doubt upon facing initial opposition from Democratic lawmakers, who pushed back on his hawkish foreign policy views. But Pompeo ultimately garnered support from six Democrats — Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Doug Jones of Alabama — in passing through the process.
Trump abruptly announced in March he would tap Pompeo to replace Tillerson, marking an end to his rocky tenure at the department plagued by public clashes with the White House.