As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled around the Middle East last year, State Department officials contested whether the government should cover the travel expenses of his wife, Susan Pompeo. 

The request opened the door for a State Department inspector general’s office investigation on how the Pompeos have used taxpayers’ money.

Susan Pompeo had been invited by the secretary to the Middle East to attend two representational events in Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

Under U.S. law, however, travel expenses are only covered by the Department under certain conditions. The request animated a debate over Susan Pompeo’s atypical participation in secretary’s position.


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In a six page document, dated Jan. 7, 2019, the starting date of Mike Pompeo’s tour, senior officials recommended that the deputy secretary prove that dual representation or Susan’s participation, was necessary to advance the “foreign policy interests of the United States” and also “to national security.”

The memo also advocated for the government’s approval and partial payment for Susan Pompeo’s trip.

“To decline the invitation now could be seen as lack of courtesy, but there is no significant foreign policy interest here save the issue of courtesy,” the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau, which oversees the Middle East, argued.

However, diplomats who deal with Middle East policy disagreed but were overruled. and the recommendations to then-Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan were sent out. 

It is still unclear whether Sullivan formally signed off on the memo, but Susan Pompeo still accompanied her husband to the Middle East.

The memo opened the door for the State Department inspector general’s office to investigate whether the Pompeos have properly used public resources, shining a light on how active Susan has been in her husband’s affairs since 2018.

In the past, Mike has defended Susan casting off comments as “sexist” and “badly dated and offensive.”

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