WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took office nearly three years ago, promising to restore the “sweep” of American diplomacy.
He left the State Department with many of his diplomats and officials, expressing outrage at his behavior, accusing Mr Pompeo of failing to acknowledge and even less protesting President Trump’s role in inciting the rebels who besieged the Capitol last week. Just weeks earlier, Mr Pompeo had speculated that Mr Trump had won an election he had lost.
And now, in Mr Pompeo’s last week, the United States̵
For Mr. Pompeo, who left his post as CIA director to take a job whose first employee was Thomas Jefferson, it was the culmination of a tense relationship with professionals within what Mr. Trump once called “Deep State ministry. ”
In private conversations, some of the country’s best diplomats described a waiting strategy at the Harry S. Truman building as they tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to slow Mr Pompeo’s quest for major political change in recent days. through the office. These include easing restrictions on Taiwan to oppose China, declaring Houthi rebels in Yemen a foreign terrorist organization because of objections from diplomats and aid workers, and returning Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
In several State Department offices, residents keep discrete electronic countdown clocks, reporting the protocol to the end of the Trump administration.
Mr Pompeo, for his part, complained about how often diplomats talk to reporters, even saying it is inappropriate for them to talk at all – even though communicating with a global audience is the role of diplomats around the world. State Department officials did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Criticism of Mr Pompeo’s recent actions is harshest on the State Department’s notorious dissent channel, which gives diplomats and civil servants a safe way to express their disagreement with politics – without fear of retribution. So far, there are two such dissenting cables, one signed by more than 100 diplomats and civil servants, another by more than 170 lawyers working in the department.
Although different in wording, dissenters criticized Mr Pompeo’s refusal to secede from the president for his efforts to stir up the crowd on Wednesday, which eventually turned to the Capitol.
“The failed public involvement of the president will further damage our democracy and our ability to effectively achieve our foreign policy goals abroad,” it reads.
The other dissenting cable, which was distributed Thursday and Friday and signed by more than 100 State Department officials, called on Mr. Trump to be explicitly linked to the violence in public statements released by the agency.
“Just as we routinely denounce foreign leaders who use violence and intimidation to interfere in peaceful democratic processes and undo the will of their constituents, the agency’s public statements about this episode should mention President Trump by name,” it said. in him. “It is extremely important to let the world know that in our system, no one – not even the president – is above the law and immune to public criticism.”
In doing so, the cable concluded, “it will allow the beacon of democracy to shine despite this dark episode.” It would also send a strong message to our friends and opponents that the State Department applies an ethos of integrity and objective standards when condemning attacks on democracy at home or abroad. “
One of the dissenting cables asked Mr Pompeo to state his influence behind his efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump from office. The secretary condemned the violence in the Capitol, but never mentioned the role of Mr. Trump.
Mr Pompeo addressed his complaints last week to Twitter and Facebook banning Mr Trump and to journalists comparing efforts to manipulate the election results to a “banana republic”.
“Defamation reveals a misunderstanding of the banana republics and democracy in America,” Mr Pompeo wrote.
He also tweeted a photo of National Security Adviser Robert S. O’Brien and National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe. The message seems clear: The three loyalists are not going anywhere until the end of the administration and have no intention of severing ties with the president.
It was not only Mr Pompeo’s department that raised protests. The allies too.
The secretary, who was traveling to Belgium on Wednesday for his last foreign trip, canceled a planned stop in Luxembourg after his foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, called Mr Trump a “criminal” and a “political arsonist” in an interview to fuel the Capitol riots.
Even in Brussels, Mr Pompeo’s trip promises to be inconvenient at best.
The State Department said it was traveling “to reaffirm the deep and lasting partnership between the United States and Belgium and the unwavering US support for NATO.”
But what most North Atlantic Treaty allies will remember about Trump’s presidency were the president’s sporadic threats to withdraw from the alliance. Mr Pompeo will meet with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, who said on Twitter on the day of the siege of the Capitol, “The outcome of these democratic elections must be respected.”
Since becoming Secretary of State in April 2018, Mr Pompeo has become the most unwavering and loyal national security official. Until Friday, when he first met Anthony J. Blinken, Mr. Biden’s election as next Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo avoided directly discussing the election results.
At one point, just days after the vote, he questioned the results and predicted a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” It was not clear if he was joking.
Mr Pompeo was late with his alliance with Mr Trump: In March 2016, he warned that Mr Trump, then a candidate, would become an ‘authoritarian president who ignores our constitution’. But his replacement with Mr Trump was complete, a reflection, many believe, of his hopes of inheriting Trump’s base if Mr Pompeo, a Californian who moves to Kansas, runs for president in 2024.
Mr Pompeo’s allies rejected criticism from State Department officials, noting that he was calling for the prosecution of people involved in the violent protest. “America is better than what we saw today in a place where I served as a member of Congress and saw democracy first hand at best,” Mr Pompeo said.
But Mr Pompeo’s reluctance to admit that Mr Trump is trying to repeal an election in which there is no evidence of widespread fraud has sealed the view of the administration around the world – as one that protests against election fraud everywhere at home.
“Trump inherited a set of relationships, alliances and institutions that, while imperfect, for 75 years created a context in which the conflict of great powers was avoided, democracy expanded and wealth and living standards increased,” wrote Richard N. Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the internationalist wing of the Republican Party, which Mr Pompeo released.
“By accepting a combination of ‘nationalism first in America’, one-sidedness and isolationism, Trump has done everything he can to break many of these relationships and arrangements without putting anything better in their place,” Mr Haas wrote.
“It will be difficult – if not impossible – to repair this damage soon,” he concluded.
Others believe that repairs are possible.
“Can our soft power recover from these strikes?” Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who was head of the National Intelligence Council and a senior defense official, wrote in recent days. “We have done it before. Our country has serious problems, but it also has the capacity for sustainability and reforms that have saved us in the past. “