Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

In denial of Trump’s defeat, Pompeo heads to Europe, Mideast

WASHINGTON (AP) — After refusing to acknowledge President Donald Trump’s loss in last week’s election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is leaving Friday on a trip to Europe and the Middle East, to countries where leaders have all congratulated former vice president Joe Biden for his victory.

The seven-nation trip is aimed at shoring up the outgoing Trump administration’s priorities, notably its anti-China and -Iran policies, and will include visits to Israeli settlements in the West Bank that have been avoided by previous secretaries of state.

But the usual foreign policy issues are likely to be overshadowed by the extraordinary moment in global politics: Most of the world has accepted the results of America’s election, while the United States’ top diplomat — as well as its president and much of his Republican Party — have not.

Pompeo’s trip comes days after he raised eyebrows by dismissing a reporter’s question about the presidential transition by saying “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” He appeared to be speaking in jest and went on to say, in a more serious tone, that the world should be assured that the State Department will be functional and successful with the president who takes office Jan. 20. But those comments and subsequent statements in interviews with conservative media did not acknowledge that it’s Biden who will become president then.

23 PHOTOSSecretary of State Mike PompeoSee GallerySecretary of State Mike PompeoSecretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP)U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make joint statements to the press after meeting, in Jerusalem, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (Debbie Hill/Pool via AP)Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on the State Department’s 2021 budget on Capitol Hill Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher listen as President Donald Trump meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz in Lazienki Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday Aug. 15, 2020. Pompeo is on a five day visit to central Europe. (Janek Skarzynski/Pool via AP)Politische Schwergewichte: Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel begrüßt US-Außenminister Mike Pompeo (M.) und UN-Generalsekretär Antonio Guterres bei der Libyen-Konferenz.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020.REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mike Pompeo (L) is sworn in as CIA Director by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as wife Susan Pompeo (2nd L) looks on at Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pompeo was confirmed for the position by the Senate this evening.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


UNITED STATES – JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., right, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 28, 2016, to announce the Committee’s report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., also appears. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director nominee for President-elect Donald Trump, swears in to a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Pompeo is seeking to reassure senators that he can shift from an outspoken policymaker to an objective spy chief if confirmed.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) arrives to testify before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination of to be become director of the CIA at Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) finishes swearing in Mike Pompeo, flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo, to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the vice president’s ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Pompeo gets a hug from supporter Jennifer O’Connor after arriving at the Sedgwick County Republican headquarters at Market Centre in Wichita, Kansas, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

(Fernando Salazar/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)

Adam Schiff (D-CA) left, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) center, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

(William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) attends his confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) listens as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) speaks during his confirmation hearing to be the director of the CIA before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., speaks during the news conference before a group of House Republican freshmen walked to the Senate to deliver a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. The letter called on the Senate to pass a long term continuing resolution with spending cuts.

(Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

US Congressman Mike Pompeo (C), R-Kansas, sits in the dark after a power failure with US Senator Pat Roberts (L), a former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and former US Senator Bob Dole (R), R-Kansas, as he prepares to testify before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 12, 2017, on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Trump administration.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., center, nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is introduced by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., right, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during Pompeo’s Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 12, 2017. The hearing was moved from Hart Building due to a peer outage.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Incoming Trump administration cabinet secretary nominees including Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson (L-R), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director nominee Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis arrive for meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Pompeo (2nd L), flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo (2nd R) and their son Nick Pompeo (R), signs his affidavit of appointment after being sworn in as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) in Pence’s ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Pompeo’s weeklong tour takes him to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The leaders of each of those countries have offered public congratulations to Biden.

Four of those countries — France, Turkey, Georgia and Qatar — have had a fractious relationship with the Trump administration and it was not clear if Pompeo would hold public engagements with any of their leaders. Pompeo has had a notoriously frosty relationship with the press and it was also unclear if he planned to take questions from reporters.

In keeping with Trump’s refusal to concede and orders for Cabinet agencies not to cooperate with the Biden transition team, the State Department has not been involved with facilitating Biden’s calls to foreign leaders, according to officials familiar with the process.

Pompeo’s ardent support for Trump, who has claimed without evidence that the election was beset by fraud, threatens to hurt America’s standing in making pronouncements about other countries’ democratic shortcomings.

On Thursday, Pompeo weighed in on Hong Kong’s legislature, and he has in recent weeks denounced alleged electoral problems in Belarus, Tanzania and Ivory Coast.

Yet, at his news conference Tuesday, Pompeo roundly dismissed a question about whether Trump’s unfounded protests have created problems for U.S. credibility. “You asked a question that is ridiculous,” he responded. “This department cares deeply to make sure that elections around the world are safe and secure and free and fair, and my officers risk their lives to ensure that that happens.”

Biden has already spoken with the leaders of Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea and fielded congratulatory notes on social media and elsewhere from others.

Yet, Pompeo said he would carry on as if there was no change.

“I’m the secretary of state,” he said. “I’m getting calls from all across the world. These people are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time.”

21 PHOTOSPresident Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 electionSee GalleryPresident Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 electionUS President Donald Trump arrives for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2020. – US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran’s Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)US President Donald Trump attends a “National Day of Observance” wreath laying ceremony on November 11, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. – US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran’s Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden’s win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)President Donald Trump salutes as he participates in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump waves to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after golfing Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump, center standing, as he participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)President Donald Trump leaves the podium after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)STERLING, VA – NOVEMBER 07: U.S. President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club, on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. News outlets projected that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after a victory in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)US President Donald Trump watches from the motorcade as he returns to the White House in Washington, DC, after playing golf on November 7, 2020. – Joyous celebrations erupted in Washington on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared winner of the US presidency, as several people poured into the streets of the US capital — some of them chanting, cheering and singing in front of the White House. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP) (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)Up Next

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