President Donald Trump made it very clear on Wednesday that he now has his man in place to lead the US State Department — signaling a new-found confidence in the diplomatic branch under the leadership of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In what was his first visit to the State Department as President, Trump attended Pompeo’s swearing-in ceremony — headlining an event that was also attended by numerous Cabinet members and Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump notably did not visit the State Department during the tenure of Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, and his presence on Wednesday suggests that he and the White House are prepared to usher in a new era behind their new top diplomat.
“I must say that’s more spirit than I’ve heard from the State Department in a long time,” Trump said in his opening remarks, adding, “we’ll be doing things that you don’t even know about” under the new secretary.
Trump went on to praise Pompeo as “a true American patriot” and noted that Pompeo was at the top of his class at West Point.
“Mike has also earned my deepest respect and admiration and trust. And you’ll see why over the coming years, probably over the coming months. I have absolute confidence that he will do an incredible job as the nation’s 70th secretary of state,” Trump added.
Pompeo teased Trump’s visit on Tuesday while addressing State Department employees for the first time since he was confirmed as secretary.
“It’s an important day for the President’s first trip to this important place,” Pompeo said, inadvertently underscoring the seeming lack of interest the President had in State before his appointment.
When it was his turn to address the crowd on Wednesday, Pompeo spoke of the “truly humbling” honor of leading the State Department, praising career diplomats and agency personnel, whom he described as the “world’s finest diplomatic corps.”
He also personally thanked Trump and said his team would be “unrelenting in confronting (global) threats” to “make sure America is always a respected and principled leader on the world stage.”
Echoing a theme from his remarks to State Department employees on Tuesday, Pompeo again said he plans to give the department its “swagger.”
Pompeo spoke of the threats posed by Iran and Russia — as well as the economic threat posed by China — in his opening remarks. He also praised the President’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and reaffirm historic alliances with European partners.
On the issue of North Korea, Pompeo said the administration intends to change the course on the Korean peninsula “once and for all.”