The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, as Pompeo has not yet publicly recognized Biden’s victory or openly welcomed the President-elect’s incoming team. It’s not clear if other Trump administration Cabinet members have met with or expressed a willingness to meet with Biden transition teams. The officials said Pompeo would meet Biden’s representatives at the right time but that they did not know exactly when a meeting would take place.
Outgoing secretaries of state in the past have met with their successors as a show of good faith and commitment to US national security, regardless of political party, but President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election has delayed work on the transition to the incoming Biden administration.
During the transition from President George W. Bush to President Barack Obama, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had dinner with Hillary Clinton, who Obama had selected to lead his State Department. After the dinner, Rice said Clinton would do a great job as America’s top diplomat.
“That’s the kind of style he has,” Brian Bulatao, who worked with Pompeo at the CIA and went with him to the State Department, told The New York Times at the time.
Pompeo’s willingness to meet with Biden’s team comes as he has not publicly committed to meeting with anyone on Biden’s team.
“You asked my wisdom for the next administration. They’re plenty smart enough. They’ll figure their way through this,” Pompeo said on Friday, before saying to world leaders that Biden’s team is not going to pick the right path forward on Iran.
Pompeo has also said “we’ll make this work” when speaking about the transition at the department, but he has not detailed what he means by that.
In November, his comment about a smooth transition to a second Trump administration, which some said was a joke, created confusion and anger within the ranks of career US diplomats. But those comments were met with praise by Trump.
It is also unclear when a meeting between Pompeo and people on Biden’s transition will happen. Blinken himself has not yet been to the State Department, as he has been spending much of his time with Biden in Delaware, but he is expected to visit in the coming weeks, said a senior State Department official familiar with the transition.
But Pompeo and the other political leadership at the department have not hindered the transition process thus far, two sources familiar with the transition tell CNN. Members of Biden’s transition team have met with State Department officials at the department this week. They have met with both career and political officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, the sources said.
A Biden transition official declined to comment when asked about Pompeo or other Trump Cabinet officials meeting with the incoming Biden team.
In 2016, when the Obama administration was handing over the reins to the incoming Trump administration, there were also challenges along the way. The Trump team failed to have enough personnel selected to receive the documents that had been prepared for them.
And then-Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Trump’s pick to succeed him — Rex Tillerson — but he never heard back.