Pompeo non grata, or simply too busy? Secretary of state cancels Europe journey – POLITICO

After refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory within the U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is out of the blue so devoted to a clean and orderly transition that he canceled a visit to Brussels to deal with passing the baton.

In response to a State Division press release issued Tuesday, simply hours earlier than Pompeo’s scheduled departure, the journey — billed as his ultimate voyage overseas as U.S. President Donald Trump’s high envoy — was scrapped to make sure a “clean and orderly transition.”

“We expect shortly a plan from the incoming administration figuring out the profession officers who will stay in positions of duty on an appearing foundation till the Senate affirmation course of is full for incoming officers,” the press launch mentioned.

However different officers mentioned the cancellation was extra a case of American snobbery being answered by European snubbery: Pompeo deserted the journey as a result of European officers balked at seeing him after final week’s lethal riot by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier Tuesday, earlier than information of Pompeo’s cancellation, the European Fee mentioned that no EU official would meet the secretary of state. A spokesman declined to elaborate additional on the explanations or decision-making course of.

Pompeo had additionally deliberate to see Luxembourg Overseas Minister Jean Asselborn, however European officers mentioned that assembly was referred to as off. A day after the violent rebellion on the Capitol, Asselborn had informed Luxembourg Radio that Trump was a “political pyromaniac who have to be introduced earlier than a courtroom.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had equally denounced the riot in Washington, tweeting: “The violences in opposition to the #Capitol are a heinous assault on the foundations of democracy and the liberty of press. We belief within the energy of the American folks and establishments to beat these instances of division & look to President-elect @JoeBiden to tackle this job.”

A confrontation between Pompeo and Asselborn may have been all of the extra embarrassing on condition that one of many predominant areas of compensation between Washington and Luxembourg in recent times has been on the issue of reparations for assets stolen from Luxembourg’s Jewish neighborhood through the Holocaust. Neo-Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semitism featured prominently within the pro-Trump mob on the Capitol, together with one rioter carrying a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt and others bearing the slogan “6MWE,” which means “six million wasn’t sufficient” — a reference to Jewish Holocaust victims.

NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg, who labored diligently over the past 4 years to keep up Trump’s assist for the alliance, had introduced that he would meet Pompeo on Wednesday. However a press bulletin specified, “There might be no media alternative.”

Pompeo telephoned Stoltenberg on Tuesday to tell him that he was canceling the go to shortly earlier than the State Division issued its press launch.

In Brussels, Pompeo was additionally scheduled to see Belgian Overseas Minister Sophie Wilmès.

Trump spent a lot of his time period denigrating America’s historic European allies, berating them over meager navy spending, calling the EU a “foe” and claiming that the bloc was created to take advantage of the U.S.

Pompeo has had a equally tough relationship with Brussels, together with a badly-received December 2018 speech in Brussels wherein he criticized multilateralism “as an finish to itself,” bashed bureaucrats, and made an impassioned case for Trump-style nationalism, asserting “sovereignty earlier than the worldwide order.”

The State Division’s rationalization for the cancellation of the journey made little sense.

Pompeo has resisted acknowledging Biden’s victory, out of evident loyalty to Trump, and solely met with Biden’s designated secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Friday, two days after the melee on the Capitol.

On the one hand, the State Division press launch insisted that the company was “properly alongside in its transition efforts,” has “been absolutely engaged for a number of weeks,” and was “happy with the extent of cooperation and professionalism.”

However then it asserted that Pompeo wanted to remain in Washington, saying “we’re canceling all deliberate journey this week, together with the Secretary’s journey to Europe” whereas awaiting the Biden crew’s plan “figuring out the profession officers who will stay in positions of duty on an appearing foundation.”

It was unclear why Pompeo’s consideration could be wanted for profession officers who’re remaining of their posts.

Per week after the U.S. election, with Biden’s victory already projected following days of ballot-counting, Pompeo had insisted at a televised briefing that “there might be a clean transition to a second Trump administration.”

“The world is watching what’s happening right here,” Pompeo mentioned. “We’re going to rely all of the votes. When the method is full, there might be electors chosen. There’s a course of. The Structure lays it out fairly clearly.”

It was that course of that the Trump rioters sought to derail.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.

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