Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s wife Susan has been criticised for embarking on an eight-day trip with her husband to the Middle East, amid the ongoing government shutdown, requiring unpaid staffers to prepare and support her during the visit.
Many diplomats were angry, an informed source told CNN on Friday.
“Eyebrows were raised from the start, from the planning, on why is she coming, and why is she coming during the shutdown?” the source said.
A senior State Department official said “You don’t bring more people that need staffing, transportation, etc. when embassy employees are working without being paid.”
The State Department has said that most diplomats abroad have not been paid during the shutdown that began on December 22.
According to officials, Susan Pompeo was assigned a control officer who worked exclusively with her. That person was on call for weeks, the sources said, and at each of the stops, Susan Pompeo had her own staffer and her own security personnel.
Furloughed, unpaid State department employees in the various overseas embassies were called in to support the trip by the Secretary of State, because his travels are considered a high priority.
In response, Secretary Pompeo described it as a “working trip” for her, telling the media that she joined him to try to help the department “be better”.