SECRETARY POMPEO: How are you all today?
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. I’m good.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I’m happy to take some questions. But first I thought I’d talk about my meeting this morning and then the trip that I came in from here to Dallas last night. First, I just had a chance to meet with some members of the folks who have left Iran and who now live here in the United States of America who still continue to have family members there. Today’s the day that IRGC designation comes into effect and it was a day I wanted to be with them to hear their views of how our policy is affecting the lives of the people inside of Iran and how our policy is leading to what we hope, which is a change in the nature and the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran and their leadership, and our continued support for the Iranian people in (inaudible) the country in a way that causes them not to have the wealth to export terror around the world.
So it was very productive meetings. Great folks flew in from a long distance to be here with me this morning. I really appreciate them joining me to talk about what they’re seeing from family members and friends inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. And there’s big flooding there that doesn’t get reported much in our media, but the leadership in Iran is continuing to export terrorism. Indeed, they’re using their dollars to support Maduro in Venezuela while people are suffering inside of their own country. Folks who were with me this morning didn’t think that made much sense, and neither do I.
I’ve spent the previous days in South America – Chile, Peru, and Paraguay, and then last night in Cucuta, Colombia, with President Duque, where we talked not only about Venezuela and the importance of Nicolas Maduro leaving Venezuela, but about the opportunity there is between the United States and South America. We now have democratic nations with free and open markets who are prepared to compete and participate in our economy, in our – and the United States in their economy. So we talked about the relationships not only how we’re going to work together to restore democracy and the fundamental rights of the people in Venezuela, but how our countries can work together on a broader range of issues.
And then this afternoon I’m going to head to College Station, Texas, and speak to the Corps of Cadets, which will be great, because I want to talk to them – and frankly, talk to a broader audience about the importance of diplomacy as it will impact their lives. Many those young people at Texas A&M will leave for a life of service in the United States military, and I want to talk to them about how it is that we interact – the State Department and the Department of Defense – and how important it is for them to understand that if we do our work well in partnership with them, we’ll have to put fewer lives of our young men and women at risk if diplomacy is successful. But we need a strong military to do it, but we can benefit them enormously. And then I’m going to encourage some of them – we’ll have a young lady who’s a Texas A&M grad who now works for me at the State Department – introduced me today – talking about life as an American diplomat, because while some will choose a life in the military, some of them will want to come work for the team that I am now privileged to get a chance to lead.
So with that, I’m happy to take a couple questions.
MS MARTIN: Let’s start with NBC. Julie, are you ready to go?
QUESTION: Mine is actually more Texas-centric type of question. Your opinion on the policy, the discussion possibly of having migrants live in sanctuary cities?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I’m here to talk about foreign policy. You have a question on that, I’m happy to take it. President Trump has made clear we have a crisis at our southern border. He is going to use every lawful tool that he has available to ensure that we can protect American sovereignty, that we can stop – you know this, living here in Texas, you know the challenges of drugs crossing the border, you know the challenges of human trafficking crossing our border. This is truly a crisis. We need Congress to act. We need them to change some fundamental policies, some laws. If we do that, we can successfully make sure that our southern border is secure. That’s President Trump’s mission. When I talk with my counterparts in South America, I talk to them about that some, and I talk with my counterpart Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico about this with some frequency. I’m fully in support of working to make sure that we can control – we know who is coming in and out of the United States of America. It’s an imperative.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
MS MARTIN: Yes.
QUESTION: David Goins of WFAA, ABC in Dallas. Do you feel the concerns expressed from lawmakers in D.C. about the administration’s stance towards Iran is well founded, or do you think the concern is maybe that Iran – the idea that the U.S. can pursue military action without congressional approval? And did anybody you met with today from Dallas or Dallas-based Iranians express that too?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Excuse me. No, but the group this morning – we talked mostly about what’s going inside – on inside of Iran. These people have deep connections there, long histories. Many of them had traveled there. Some of them indeed had traveled there very recently. It’s one of the difficult things, is to get a sense of what’s going on in different parts outside of Tehran, and I got some true insights into that, albeit anecdotal, this morning.
And then we talked about how our U.S. policy is moving forward there, whether it’s pushing back against Iran in Lebanon or pushing back against Iran in Iraq, helping to build an independent, free, sovereign country. Those were the kinds of things we talked about this morning. And that’s the mission set. The mission set is to help the Iranian people deliver change so that this Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. It’s really that straightforward.
MS MARTIN: Kylie.
QUESTION: Can I follow-up on that? Mr. Secretary —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Hi, Kylie.
QUESTION: Hi. Building off – on that question, last week when you were before Congress a few members asked you specifically about the AUMF and if it authorizes military action against Iran or the IRGC, and your question – you answer was a little bit unclear, saying, “I prefer to just leave that to the lawyers.” So are you and other members of the Trump administration working with lawyers to see if military action against Iran would be possible? Is that something that you guys would want?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Kylie, I never talk about inner governmental conversations, especially when they’re with lawyers.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I don’t have anything I can add there. I’ll make this very clear, very plain though: The United States and President Trump will act lawfully. He’ll act within his authorities. Article 2 gives broad powers, the AUMF gives a set of broad powers, but they are – we understand them. And as we make decisions about how to move forward, we’ll do so in a way that is deeply consistent with American tradition and America’s constitution.
QUESTION: Just to —
MS MARTIN: Dallas Morning News, do you have one?
QUESTION: Sure. You just came back from discussing Venezuela. We have a growing population of Venezuelan expatriates here in Texas. Is there any pressure from the opposition groups in Venezuela to maybe extend TPS to the Venezuelans here or do anything for the ones who are – they kind of – it’s been a mix of people now leaving Venezuela the past few years. Is there any pressure on the U.S. Government from them to do something for the people already here?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The opposition groups are very focused on one thing: Making sure that Nicolas Maduro doesn’t continue to wreak enormous havoc. I was there yesterday. I saw the human suffering that is taking place – thousands of people crossing from Venezuela. Now it’s a million-five in Colombia and three quarters of a million in Peru. These people are suffering tremendously. They – literally, they’re coming across the border to try and work a job, make a couple of dollars, buy some diapers and some food for their baby so that they can eat every other day, every other day. This is the Maduro regime’s legacy and it needs to end. That’s what the opposition forces are focused on. That’s what I hear them talk about when we communicate with them.
MS MARTIN: Shaun with Fox 4.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. Can we talk about North Korea for a minute, sir?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Sure. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: And the idea that Kim Jong-un suggests there could be a third summit if we are willing to change our approach in some ways. Can you speak to that? Should we change anything at this point?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I saw his statement. I appreciate that. There are lots of conversations taking place. I saw Chairman Kim’s statement. President Trump is determined to move forward diplomatically, right. This is the outcome we’re looking for: Chairman Kim made a promise in June of last year in Singapore. He made a commitment to denuclearize. He’s made that same commitment to me now a handful of times in person. We collectively need to see that outcome move forward. And we’re working – our teams are working with the North Koreans to plot a – to chart a path forward so that we can get there. He said he wanted it done by the end of the year. I’d love to see that done sooner.
MS MARTIN: Perfect. And we have time for one more.
QUESTION: I have a question about – you said you had a meeting with the governments in El Salvador, Guatemala. What message can you send to those governments to convince people who are coming to the border – these people who are coming to the border now, they know what to expect when they get to the border, but they still think that’s better than what they’ve got, so what work can be done with the governments in Central America to change that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. Look, you grow an economy with the rule of law, property rights, independent judiciaries, no corruption, right? This is core economic philosophy. We need those countries to begin to build out that infrastructure. America’s been trying to support them in that for years and years and years. Indeed, you all, the American taxpayers have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to those countries to assist in that, and yet, you see today on the southern border right here in the state of Texas, you see that it has not yet been successful.
The conversation we’re having is about how can we do that, how can we assist them in building out their capacity and create a situation where people won’t want to take this trek. You all know this. You see the human trafficking that takes place when these families move through Mexico. You see the transnational criminal organizations prey on Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, and Hondurans as they move north through Mexico. We’re working with each of the Northern Triangle countries to implore them to use their capacity to demonstrate the will to stop these people from making this trek. And we’re communicating with people in those countries, too, telling them that coming to the United States is not the right answer.
MS MARTIN: Perfect. Thanks all, appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great. Thank you all. Have a good day.