Pompeo interviewing candidates for State vacancies

Pompeo interviewing candidates for State vacancies
© Greg Nash

New Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts Turkish president: US set deadline to release detained pastor MORE has begun interviewing candidates to fill a slew of vacant posts at the department as he seeks to make good on a pledge to build up the agency's workforce, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Pompeo has been interviewing candidates for various positions at the department in recent days and that he planned to do so throughout the weekend.

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"This is a priority of his," Nauert told reporters at a press briefing. "He said that in his hearings on Capitol Hill, he said that to us privately, and I know he's alluded that to all of you publicly, as well."

Nauert declined to say how many people Pompeo has spoken with so far or what positions he is looking to fill first.

More than 15 months into the Trump administration, a number of key roles remain unfilled at the State Department.

Of the 161 Senate-confirmed positions at the State Department, 61 still have no nominee, according to figures gathered by the nonprofit group Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post.

What's more, in the first nine months of 2017, 435 career officials at the State Department either resigned or retired, according to the group. 

Pompeo's predecessor, Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDems want GOP chairman to subpoena State Department over cyber docs Overnight Energy: Trump elephant trophy tweets blindsided staff | Execs of chemical plant that exploded during hurricane indicted | Interior to reverse pesticide ban at wildlife refuges Administration should use its leverage to get Egypt to improve its human rights record MORE, had sought to streamline the department but denied before his ouster that he was "dismantling" it.

Pompeo, who was sworn as the nation's top diplomat last week, acknowledged during his confirmation hearing in April that the vacancies at the State Department were a source of low morale among the agency's workforce. He vowed to work to fill those openings but told lawmakers that they would need to do their part, as well. 

"I’ll do my part to end the vacancies, but I’ll need your help," he said.