Some who spoke to POLITICO for this story described Susan Pompeo’s role in benign or positive terms, calling her a stickler for constituent services and rigor, whose attention to details like birthdays and thank-you notes can boost staff morale and forge connections with foreign leaders. But she has also used official and quasi-official resources in ways that have raised questions among congressional Democrats. During Mike Pompeo’s tenure at the CIA, her role had been expansive enough that officials with the spy agency got in touch with the State Department and suggested they prepare a legal memo governing Susan Pompeo’s role before she arrived in Foggy Bottom…

Susan Pompeo’s level of involvement at the State Department has no clear precedent, at least not in modern times, veteran diplomats say. Some recent secretaries of State, such as Condoleezza Rice, were unmarried. John Kerry’s wife, Teresa, had health issues and engaged little with the department. Other secretaries’ spouses, such as Colin Powell’s wife, Alma, played limited roles, like attending State Department functions. One spouse, Bill Clinton, was a former president with his own activities that for ethical and optical reasons aides tried to keep from careening into Hillary Clinton’s duties as secretary. But none was so involved as to give the impression, as Susan Pompeo has, of being in the department’s chain of command…

Eight former House staff members said Susan Pompeo was heavily involved in matters large and small in her husband’s congressional office—from managing his social calendar to weighing in on hiring decisions to selecting fonts. It’s hardly unusual for the spouses of members of Congress to shepherd their political careers; several lawmakers have even put their wives on the campaign payroll. But to some, it felt like Susan Pompeo was one of the office bosses. Several former staffers said she ordered them around for personal errands.