WASHINGTON, US.- President Donald Trump is trying to hit reset at the State Department on the eve of a critical decision on the Iran nuclear deal and a potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump made his first visit to the department on Wednesday for the ceremonial swearing-in of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, highlighting his relationship with the head of a Cabinet agency he largely neglected during the tenure of Rex Tillerson.
The former Exxon Mobil CEO was unceremoniously dumped by Trump as the top U.S. diplomat in March after months of personality and policy clashes.
Tillerson felt undercut in the job and was viewed overseas as an unreliable emissary for the mercurial Trump. Tillerson went unmentioned during Wednesday’s brief ceremony, but Pompeo’s contrasting status was on full display.
The former CIA director is personally close to the president and gained stature abroad after his secret visit to North Korea last month to meet with Kim.
“That’s more spirit than I’ve heard from the State Department in a long time,” Trump said as he took the podium to applause from the crowd on ornate seventh floor.
It was a tacit acknowledgement that department morale had suffered under Tillerson, who undertook an unpopular restructuring of the department before he was fired. Pompeo has repeatedly promised to reinvigorate the department.