President Donald Trump makes his first visit to the State Department Wednesday for a ceremonial swearing in of his new secretary of state.
“It’s an important day for the president’s first trip to this important place,” Secretary of State Pompeo said Tuesday while speaking to personnel who gathered in the State Department lobby as he arrived for his first full day in Washington.
Pompeo, the former CIA director, has vowed to bring back the “swagger” to the State Department.
“The United States diplomatic corps need 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,” said Pompeo on Tuesday.
Pompeo takes the helm of the State Department after Trump fired then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in March, hours after Tillerson had returned from a trip to Africa.
Unlike with Tillerson, Trump is said to have a close working relationship with Pompeo. The president and several Cabinet members will be on-hand on Wednesday for Pompeo’s ceremonial swearing-in, a clear sign that Pompeo enjoys the trust and backing of the president.
“Mike Pompeo is someone who I think has the close ear of the president,” said Nile Gardiner of the conservative-leaning Washington-based think-tank, The Heritage Foundation.
Tuesday, Pompeo took selfies with several State Department employees, vowing to reach out to as many staff members as he could.
“I’ll spend as little time on the 7th floor” and meet people in “many parts of this organization,” said the new secretary of state.
A U.S. foreign service officer, who did not want to be named, told VOA he hopes Pompeo’s experiences in Congress, the U.S. military, and the intelligence community “highlight that the United States faces real adversaries abroad, and that the [State] Department’s career employees are resources — not the enemy.”
Tillerson was under fire at the State Department for leaving many senior vacancies unfilled and proposing dramatic budget cuts, lowering the morale of the diplomatic workforce.
Pompeo, who was confirmed last week, boarded a plane just hours after being sworn in Thursday, traveling to the NATO foreign ministerial in Brussels. He continued on to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan.
“I do think he is going to be a far bigger presence on the world stage than Rex Tillerson was,” said The Heritage Foundation’s Gardiner.
And while former Secretary of State Tillerson brought just one reporter on his first foreign trip to Asia, Pompeo left Washington with six journalists on his plane last week. He picked up two more reporters as he continued his overseas trip to the Middle East, before returning to Washington on Monday.
“I think I have the record for the longest trip on the first day of work,” Pompeo joked on Tuesday.