Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly banned a Bloomberg reporter from his plane ride to the Helsinki summit over a story from July that described him eating slices of processed cheese during a trip to North Korea.
Dubbed the “Pompeo Cheese Incident” by one senior Trump administration official, the controversy arose over Pompeo’s need to control his PR image, according to The Daily Beast.
“Pompeo, those close to him say, is acutely aware of media coverage of himself, cognizant of how other senior officials and cabinet secretaries have fallen out of favor with the president due to embarrassing or negative reporting on them,” reported the publication. “According to three sources with knowledge of what transpired, Pompeo was absolutely livid when he read that Bloomberg had reported he’d eaten processed, Velveeta-style cheese during his diplomatic jaunt.”
Pompeo’s cheese breakfast was described to Bloomberg by the State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert—who is currently the frontrunner to fill Nikki Haley’s ambassadorship at the United Nations. Unbeknownst to Pompeo, Nauert told reporter Nick Wadhams to include the cheese details to “humanize” the secretary, according to a Business Insider report from the summer.
One source told The Daily Beast that after the story ran with the cheesy references, the Secretary of State demanded a “head on a plate.”
“The ‘head on a plate’ that Nauert’s boss had called for was served up later that month,” wrote The Beast. “Following the North Korea trip, Wadhams was informed by State that he would not be allowed on Pompeo’s plane for then upcoming Helsinki summit, which also occurred in July.”