QUESTION: Welcome back. This is the Ben Shapiro Show. Joining us on the line is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sworn in as Secretary of State April 26th, 2018. Secretary Pompeo, thanks so much for joining the show again.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ben, it’s great to be back with you again. Hope you’re doing well.
QUESTION: Hanging in there. So Secretary Pompeo, obviously you’ve been in the center of the news for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, this didn’t all start with a person eating a bat; that perhaps the Wuhan virus, a virus that began in Wuhan, actually may have started in a Chinese lab. Now, we’ve seen a lot of speculation about this, especially because apparently the bat species from which this virus originated was not native to the Wuhan region. So what is the argument that this thing either did or did not start in a lab, and what is the position of the administration on the origins of the virus?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Ben, the administration’s really clear: We need the answer to that. We need the Chinese Communist Party to share with the American people the data set, the access we need, a sample of the virus – all the basic things that normal nations do and they’ve refuse to do.
As for the facts, I’ve seen a significant amount of evidence that suggests that the lab was underperforming, that there were security risks at the lab, and that the virus could well have emanated from there. But I’m happy to suspend the decision about that. What we need are answers. There are still people dying. We’ve got an economy now that is really struggling, and it’s all a direct result of the Chinese Communist Party covering up, hiding information, having doctors who wanted to tell the story about where this began, how patient zero was formed and how it emanated from that person, and yet we can’t get those answers. Even now, 120-plus days on from the Chinese Communist Party knowing about this virus, they continue to hide and obfuscate the data from the American people and from the world’s best scientists.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, frankly I’m astonished at the number of Democrats, members of the media who seem to be echoing talking points from the Chinese Communist Party when it comes to this particular issue, suggesting that the real problem here is that the United States is being too tough on China, the Trump administration is asking too many questions of China, that really we need to be working with China. As you say, if China had been working with us from the start, then this may never have escaped China in the first place.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I must say I’ve been in Washington now for 10 years, Ben, and I am difficult to surprise with respect to partisanship. Just – I’ve seen it. It’s unfortunate. This isn’t remotely a political issue. This is an enormous national security issue and an economic issue, and my friends back in Kansas, people all across America are really hurting. They want to go back to work, they want to go back to their churches, and the Chinese Communist Party is preventing information from flowing that would increase the chance we could do that better and more safely.
And so when I see whether it’s the left wing media or Democrats saying, “Well gosh, if you all would just cooperate with the World Health Organization,” I am astounded. They failed us. It’s not the first time the WHO has failed the world in the time of a pandemic. You can’t go back to business as usual; we’ve got to fix it. America will lead. We’ll get it right.
QUESTION: So when it comes to the Chinese Government trying to obstruct investigation, there’s been talk about them basically leveraging threats against a variety of countries who are even asking for an investigation. What is the status of the Chinese Government attempting to stymie any sort of investigation into what happened here?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s pretty astounding, Ben. Whether it was the Australians who simply said, “Boy, we need an investigation,” the ambassador there – the Chinese ambassador there to Australia said, “Well, we’re going to threaten you economically.” We’ve seen the do – same thing do to the EU when they were about to put out a statement, began to put economic pressure on them. This is the worst of Chinese adventurism. We’ve seen this. We’ve seen the Chinese Communist Party do this before, threaten small countries, use economic power to exert their influence. It’s not how nations that want to truly be transparent, truly be part of the international system – it’s not how they behave. I regret that they’ve done it because we still have an ongoing crisis. We still don’t know where this virus began other than to say we know it came out of Wuhan.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, one of the other sort of media criticisms of the administration has been the suggestion that America has abdicated leadership when it comes to pandemic response. That obviously is not true. I mean, you’ve been talking for a long time about what exactly America is doing for other countries. I was hoping maybe you could run some of that down here.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Goodness, Ben, it’s not even comparable. There’s no other nation that has contributed as much and will contribute as much to the solution to this pandemic. Often that gets translated into dollars. I’m happy to lay the competition down there. We will spend billions of dollars. We’ll provide assistance to countries all across the world.
No one has a technical capability like us. We’ve got dozens and dozens and dozens of our CDC officers in dozens and dozens of countries around the world, providing technical assistance in Africa, in Southeast Asia, all across the world.
And no one shows up too with the private sector, who when it comes time to begin to build the world’s economy will be out there taking risk, growing economies, using technology to make lives better for people all across the world. There is no nation that will remotely lead in the way we will leading the world back out of this global crisis.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, I want to switch topics briefly. There was sort of a very odd incident in Venezuela in which a couple of Americans were apparently implicated in attempting to start a coup there. The Venezuelan Government has been trying to claim that the Trump administration was behind this attempted coup using a couple of ex-Green Berets. What should we make of that whole story and what exactly did the Trump administration have to do with any of it, if anything?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the short answer to that is this was not an American effort. This wasn’t something that we directed or guided. I know Maduro’s trying to spin it that way. That’s the story he wants to tell to the Venezuelan people. Again, Maduro as victim is not the right story to come out of this. It won’t surprise me if when we get to the end of this we learn that the regime knew about this for a significant amount of time and has used this opportunity to create disinformation and an opportunity.
But the American people can be sure the United States didn’t lead this effort. We desperately want to return Venezuela to its democracy and let it flourish in a way that we know that it can. It has enormous resources. Our mission set is clear. President Trump’s given real guidance to put pressure on Maduro so that he and the Cubans will leave, and when we get that, we’ll restore democracy there. It wasn’t us who conducted this little activity a few days ago now.
QUESTION: And so we’re doing a little bit of globetrotting here, Secretary Pompeo, but I wanted to ask you about a little-noticed story yesterday with regard to the United States withdrawing batteries of Patriot surface-to-air missiles from Saudi Arabia. The presumption here is that Iran is no longer seen as as much of a threat to Saudi Arabian territory, particularly given their weak economic status and the pandemic, but there was speculation that perhaps this was some sort of pressure put on Saudi Arabia to decrease its oil supply so as not to continue overwhelming the oil markets with a glut. What is the reason the United States withdrew those Patriot missiles?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I really appreciate this question. I want to – I’d love to clear that all up. This was none – it was none of the above with respect to that. Those Patriot batteries had been in place for some time. Those troops needed to get back. They needed to reposition. I’ll leave to DOD to give the details, but this wasn’t either a recognition of a decreased threat – I wish it were so. I wish that the Islamic Republic of Iran had changed its ways, but the threat remains. It’s not a decrease in our support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and doing everything we can to provide security for them and air defense systems so the Iranians can’t threaten them, and this was in no way an effort to pressure them with respect to the global oil issues. This was a normal rotation of forces, and I think the Iranian regime knows that too. They can see that we still have ample capability to continue to exercise both our maximum pressure campaign and our deterrence in the region.
QUESTION: And Secretary Pompeo, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about your take on the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against Mike Flynn. Obviously, you were the director of the CIA from January 2017 to April 2018 and you know General Flynn. Obviously, the DOJ decided that they were not going to move forward with charges on the basis that whatever statements he made to the FBI, whether or not they were true, they were immaterial to any actual ongoing criminality or any criminal case. What’s your reaction to the DOJ’s decision to drop the case against Flynn?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I do know General Flynn. I first came to know him actually when he was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency when I served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He’s a good man. Justice has been done and I’m happy that Attorney General Barr and the Justice Department team got to the facts, got to the right answers, and have now corrected what was an enormous miscarriage of justice.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, really appreciate your time, sir, and stay safe out there. Really appreciate what you’re doing.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Ben. So long, sir.