Channel 1 Los Angeles
Washington D.C. 12/2/19
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
The Brown Hotel
QUESTION: It’s time for us to bring the Secretary of State. One of the most busiest people in the world gives us a few minutes. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Fox & Friends.
QUESTION: Good morning.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning. It’s great to be with you again.
QUESTION: Well, I know you’re going to be focused on what’s happening at NATO. The President ‘s going to be focusing on what happened at NATO. But they’re also going to try to get – split your attention to what’s going to be happening in Washington with these ongoing impeachment hearings. What is your – how do you feel about the White House’s decision not to send a lawyer there?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, that’s the White House’s call. They’ve watched this process be tremendously unfair all the way through. I think they are concerned that this process will continue to be unfair, and they’ve made this decision not to send counsel for at least this part of the proceeding.
The President is traveling to London; he leaves this morning. I’m down in Louisville, Kentucky delivering a foreign policy announcement on behalf of America. We’ll be headed to talk with our NATO partners. We’ve done amazing work over our time in office to get NATO to step up, those countries to spend more money to secure – to secure themselves and to secure the world. We’re very proud of what’s been accomplished under the Trump administration at NATO.
QUESTION: Spending up 4.6 percent.
QUESTION: What do you make of the timing of this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s good. About $130 billion. I was just going to say, yeah, about $130 billion in increased spending so far, several hundred billion more in increased spending over the next three or four years. This is a direct result of President Trump making it clear our expectations that these Europeans would step up to help secure their own people.
QUESTION: So phase two of impeachment begins on Wednesday as this is – as House Judiciary will be calling witnesses and now talking about impeachment. The President is in London, as you’re talking about, for the NATO’s Leaders Meeting, and his attorney sent this fiery letter, five-page letter, to Jerry Nadler and folks on that committee and said, look, the timing on this, you obviously are doing this on purpose. They said – the letter said Nadler purposely scheduled these hearings knowing that the President would be away. What do you make of the timing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, there’s a long tradition that we support presidents when they travel overseas to do their work. For them to hold hearings back here in Washington to distract America’s president from his important mission overseas – I mean, these are some of our most important allies and partners in keeping the American people safe and secure. I regret that they’ve chosen to hold these hearings at the same time that the President and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe, to London, to work on these important matters. It’s very unfortunate.
QUESTION: Once upon a time, politics used to end at the water’s edge. That’s not today.
Mr. Secretary, the president of Ukraine spoke to Time Magazine and made it very clear – no quid pro quo. Here’s part of his interview. He said, “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing…I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand we’re at war . If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
Your comment about that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I certainly understand the Ukrainian leadership wanting assistance from the United States of America. In fact, the Ukrainian leadership wanted defensive lethal assistance from the United States of America for many years during President Obama’s time, and he refused each and every year to provide that assistance.
Now this administration – not once, not twice, but now three times – has provided the weapons, the defensive systems, that the Ukrainian military needed to defend themselves against the Russian activities in southeast Ukraine in the Donbas region. We’ve been relentless in pursuing this strategic objective. We’ve supported the Ukrainian people and their capacity to defend themselves.
I’m proud of what we’ve done. I certainly understand that President Zelensky would want more, he’d want it faster. I can certainly understand that. But this administration has done a yeoman’s work in providing this assistance to the Ukrainian Defense Forces.
QUESTION: Right. Are you under the belief that Zelensky is doing the types of things that make you think that he is a reformer that would allow you to really dig in and support him? Because most people like you will say to us that Ukraine is the stop on Russia from them reclaiming all their old provinces and re-establishing the Soviet Union. So do you believe Zelensky is the guy?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Brian, it’s a step forward. There is no doubt about that. He is working hard. He is digging in. We’re providing assistance to help ferret out corruption there, to make this a place where the Ukrainian people can be proud of their democracy and the absence of corruption. There’s an awful lot of work to do. There is no effort on anyone’s part – I think President Zelensky would say this too – to claim victory against the risk of corruption, but he has certainly made improvements, steps in the right direction. We’re happy about that and we’re going to continue to support his efforts to do that.
QUESTION: Okay. The prime minister of London says that 74 convicted terrorists have been released early. Somehow that happened. And then fast-forward and you have people that are being killed by one of those men who was released too early, stabbed to death on the London Bridge. How did that happen?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, you’ve highlighted a problem that we have, frankly, all around the world. Countries have not updated their terrorism laws to reflect the reality of the post-9/11 world. People who commit terror acts around the world can’t be brought back into their countries. Their judicial systems can’t handle them. They can’t process them. Therefore, they won’t take them back. It presents real risk all across the world. And when they do bring them back, their laws don’t reflect the severity of these attacks, the severity of the terrorists and the threat it poses to the world.
So you see people not being convicted, people being released too soon, and we saw what happened in the United Kingdom this past week. This same kind of risk faces us all across the world, and we’ve asked countries from Asia to Africa to the Middle East to update their terrorism laws to reflect the severity of these acts, the risks to their people, and the risk to the world. There remains an awful lot of work to do.
QUESTION: All right. You got slammed by the foreign minister of Iran regarding the sanctions: “Secretary Pompeo once again admits that U.S. #economic terrorism on Iran is designed to starve, and in the case of medical supplies, kill our innocent citizens.” Is that what you’re up to?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the challenge that the Iranian economy faces is the direct result of the Iranian leadership. It has nothing to do with the sanctions we’ve put in place. The Iranian leadership has failed to serve their people. It continues to fail to serve their people. It’s important to note, the world should know, that humanitarian assistance, medical supplies and those kinds of things are expressly permitted to go into Iran. Our sanctions don’t impact those items. And so to claim that somehow American sanctions are denying medical products for the people of Iran is foolish and it’s simply an effort to deflect from the catastrophe that the ayatollah has visited upon his own people.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Iran has been a terror cesspool since 1979, and some would argue that – and some would say that there are more – is more unrest there now than any other time since their revolution. In fact, the word is they have experienced the deadliest political unrest in 40 years. It began two weeks ago with a sharp increase in gasoline prices; within 72 hours, they just started killing protestors, but the outrage hasn’t stopped. Some are calling for the overthrow of the government.
Now, we watched as President Obama did nothing during their revolution early on in his administration. He did not want to poison these nuclear negotiations. What are you guys going to do support them while not becoming the target of the – becoming the target of the unrest?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Brian, we’ve already done a lot. We’ve rallied the world to denounce the harsh response that the Iranian leadership has. I’ve seen numbers that vary from as few as a hundred to many times more than that who have been killed by the Iranian security forces – just simple people who wanted to go out and protest to gain their political freedom, their political rights inside of Iran. We know that there have been several thousand people already detained, put in prisons like Evin prison. This is a regime that is spoiling the very demands that their people are putting on them.
These protests are a direct result of economic collapse, the absence of political freedoms, and a regime that has sent their young boys off to fight and come back dead, and hasn’t used that money for the betterment of the Iranian people. You’re seeing these protests as a direct result of that. We’ve supported those protestors. We’ve done our best to make sur they can continue to communicate by using the internet, which the Iranian leadership attempted to shut down in its entirety. This administration has taken a completely opposite view of the important political protests, the freedom-seeking, the freedom-loving people of Iran, than President Obama and his administration did.
QUESTION: They’re mostly between 19 and 26, young – low-income, young men who are standing up and fighting. We have nothing to do with the unrest. They are fed up with this regime that has taken their money and given it to Hamas and Hizballah.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, and they want to work, Brian. Yeah, they want to work. They want to live their lives. They want to take care of their families. They don’t want to go fight far-off wars against people with who – which they have nothing against. This is pretty straightforward.
QUESTION: I know you’re at the University of Louisville today. What are you going to be doing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m down here at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. I spend a fair amount of time here in the States talking about the great work that American diplomats are doing around the world and the work that the Trump administration is doing to keep people safe.
Today, I’m going to focus on the work we’re doing in the Western Hemisphere, Central and South America, a place that this administration has paid an awful lot of attention and creating opportunities for freedom and economic growth in our own hemisphere. I hope that Congress will do its part in the Western Hemisphere. I hope it’ll pass the USMCA, the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. I’m going to talk a little bit about that too and the enormous opportunity that’ll create for the people of the United States as well as the people of Canada and Mexico.
QUESTION: That sounds great. Mr. Secretary, before you go, I saw a Time Magazine article that said in the last couple of weeks you’ve spoken to three prominent Kansan Republicans and you’ve told them you are going step aside as Secretary of State and run for Senate in Kansas. Anything to that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Nothing at all. Completely false.
QUESTION: All right. So you’re staying.
SECRETARY POMPEO: As long as President Trump will have me as his Secretary of State, I’m going to continue to do this important work.
QUESTION: He told us he’s sure you’d win if you run. Are you sure you’d win if you run?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s a tough race everywhere you go. I’ve never had an easy political race in my life, Brian.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for joining us.
QUESTION: You’ve got your hands full.
QUESTION: Besides, he’s already run in Kansas and won the Congress job.
QUESTION: That’s right.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So far it’s gone pretty well. Thank you all. So far. Bye.