QUESTION: Joining me now from New York is the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, it’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, earlier in the week, you said of the attack against the Saudi oil facilities that it was, quote, “an act of war,” and you said that Iran was definitely behind it. When you say something is an act of war, does that demand ultimately a military response?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, John, our mission set’s been very clear. President Trump would like to have a diplomatic solution. That’s the task that’s in front of us. It’s what we’ve been aiming for, for a little over two years now with the strongest sanctions that have ever been put in place against this revolutionary regime.
John, you know the history: 40 years of terror from Iran; it’s an anti-Semitic set of leaders that would like to wipe Israel and America from the face of the Earth. Our mission set is to avoid war. You saw what Secretary Esper announced on Friday. We’re putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defense, with our objective to be very clear: to support the Iranian people so that they can get this regime to cease behaving in a way that is so destructive not only to their own country but to the entire Middle East.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are reports this morning that Houthi militants in Yemen have warned both Saudi Arabia and the United States that Iran may be planning another attack in Saudi Arabia. Is that true?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’ve certainly seen that reporting, and I won’t talk about American intelligence and what we know. But suffice it to say we’re consistently concerned that Iran will continue to behave in the way that it has now for 40 years. It did so before the JCPOA, it did so during the JCPOA, and they continue to act in ways that are inconsistent with their obligations.
I’m here this week at the United Nations. I traveled to Jeddah and to Abu Dhabi this week. The whole world understands that Iran is the bad actor. They are the evil force in the region. They are destabilizing in the Middle East. And I hope this week, here in New York, the whole world will come together to push back against this and convince the Iranian leadership that this behavior is simply unacceptable.
QUESTION: That may be a tough hill to climb, though, yes?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think there’s a handful of countries that are actually supportive of Iran and what Iran is doing, are certainly unwilling to push back. But it’s the case – this is the world’s responsibility to respond from these state-on-state acts of war that took place in Saudi Arabia this past week.
QUESTION: If Iran were to launch, in the middle of all of this, another attack against Saudi Arabia, would the United States have any other option but to respond militarily?
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, unlike the previous administration, we try – we do our best to avoid talking about what we will do. But the American people should know, just like the Iranian people should know, America is prepared to respond in ways that are consistent with America’s national security interests. Our first aim, of course, is to keep the American people safe and secure, and part of that is to make sure that we have all the things in place so that we can do that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, many military and foreign policy experts, even members of the President’s own support group, believe that in calling off the retaliatory strike in response to that drone shootdown at the last minute, the President signaled to Iran that there are no consequences for its malign activities. What do you say to that criticism?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, first of all, there have been consequences, real consequences. The Iranian economy will shrink by between 10 and 15 percent in the year in front of us. And we took a handful of actions, some of which I can’t talk about here. So there were certainly consequences. The Iranians aren’t looking for a green light. The Iranians have behaved poorly for 40 years. And so it’s not the case that any particular response has allowed the Iranians to think they have freedom to move about the cabin.
I assure you of this: The Iranian leadership understands full four-square that President Trump will take appropriate action and impose appropriate costs on Iran if they continue to act in the way that they’ve done over these past now 40 years.
QUESTION: You mentioned, Mr. Secretary, at the beginning of this, the sanctions that President Trump put on Iran on Friday. He said that they were sanctions at the highest level. If these sanctions don’t work, what’s next? What’s left?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, they are working, John. The toughest of the sanctions, the essential ban on the – Iran’s ability to sell its crude oil around the world, took effect only in May of this year.
QUESTION: But what I mean is if they don’t – if they don’t work to bring Iran to the table.
SECRETARY POMPEO: As Secretary Esper said on Friday night, we’re prepared to act in ways that are necessary in order to achieve the outcome President Trump has very clearly laid out. I talked about it a year ago in May. We know what the objectives are. We simply want Iran to behave like a normal nation.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is it possible that if there were a retaliatory military strike against Iran that it would be able to be contained? Or would it, as Javad Zarif and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Council have warned, erupt into all-out conflagration in the Middle East, which would likely involve U.S. bases in the region, would likely also possibly involve Israel?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re certainly deeply aware of the risks. It’s why we want to resolve this in a way that doesn’t resort to kinetic action if it’s at all possible to achieve that.
But as for Zarif, I don’t know why anybody listens to him. He has nothing to do with Iranian foreign policy. He lies all the time. We need to make sure that we do the right things to protect and secure America and do our best to provide the resources to the Emirates and the Saudis, who I had a chance to speak to this week on my trip, so that they have increased capability to defend themselves and their own people.
And when we do those things, I am confident that we will have set the conditions for deterrence; and if that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident President Trump will take the actions that are necessary.
QUESTION: All right. We will see what happens at the United Nations General Assembly this week. I’ll see you there later on today.
Let’s switch to this whistleblower complaint. We still don’t know the exact substance of the complaint, but it does seem to revolve around a July 25th conversation the President had with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And we have heard from reporting in The Wall Street Journal that the President asked Zelensky about eight times to have the Ukraine work with his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s involvement in Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company. To your mind, is that an appropriate conversation for Rudy Giuliani to be having with Ukrainian officials?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, John, you’re asking me to comment on a IC report I haven’t seen and some reporting I have no idea if it has any foundation whatsoever.
As for appropriate action, I’ve watched the President engage with the Ukrainian leadership. I’ve listened to conversations. I remember the previous administration refusing to send defensive weapon systems to Ukraine. This President has chosen to do that not once, not twice, but now three times, so that the Ukrainian people could fight back against the overtaking of southeast Ukraine. You remember it was the previous administration that allowed Vladimir Putin to take one-fifth of the Ukrainian country. We’re going to see President Zelensky this week.
I do hope – I do hope that if Vice President Biden engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, if he had a conflict of interest or allowed something to take place in Ukraine which may have interfered in our elections in 2016, I do hope that we get to the bottom of that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said that you have not seen the complaint. Not many people have. I assume, though, that you have seen a transcript of the telephone call that the President had with Zelensky. Should a transcript of that be released to clear the air?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll ultimately leave that to the White House. But you know, John, those are private conversations between world leaders, and it’s not often that those are released. And when they’re done, it’s done when the White House deems it appropriate. I’ll leave whether that should be released to them.
QUESTION: Again, I assume that you’ve seen the transcript. Is it as described in The Wall Street Journal?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I haven’t seen The Wall Street Journal piece, John. There’s a lot going on in the world.
QUESTION: Right. The whistleblower complaint reportedly alleges a quid pro quo or a promise made to a foreign leader. The Wall Street Journal reports that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo in that call with Zelensky. Was there a quid pro quo? Was there a request to investigate Biden and/or his son? And was that linked to a promise of aid?
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, I’ve watched this President evaluate how and when and to the extent we should provide support to Ukraine, both defensive systems and other foreign assistance. We’ve been at the center of that. Those conversations have always been 100 percent appropriate, 100 percent lawful, and 100 percent ensuring that the American taxpayers were protected, that we put those resources to good use. And we got good outcomes in Ukraine when we used American taxpayers’ dollars to support the Ukrainian leadership every single time, John.
QUESTION: If there was a quid pro quo, would that be a problem?
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, you’re asking me to provide a legal analysis on a hypothetical on a report I haven’t seen. Come on.
QUESTION: I mean, if an American leader says to a foreign leader, “We will do this,” and it might have something to do with U.S. aid, “in exchange for this,” is that a problem?
SECRETARY POMPEO: John, it’s the case we have foreign assistance that is evaluated against American objectives consistently. It’s my duty to protect America by making sure that when foreign assistance is provided to countries that America benefit from that, and it’s completely appropriate to make sure that American taxpayer dollars are used appropriately.
QUESTION: Do you believe that there should be an investigation into Hunter Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian gas company?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll leave that to others, but I certainly think it’s appropriate if there’s – there are concerns and there’s enough information to justify looking into it. The American people deserve to know if that was handled in an appropriate way by Vice President Biden.
QUESTION: Just before we go, Mr. Secretary, are you ruling out a run for the Senate from Kansas next year?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve said the same thing, John, for a long time. As long as President Trump is going to have me as the Secretary of State, which I hope is a long time, that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
QUESTION: I’m sure he wants you as Secretary of State for a long time. I’m just wondering if you still have aspirations for the Senate.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s what I want to do, too. I want to be President Trump’s Secretary of State.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary Pompeo, we’ll see you later on in New York.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Thanks for joining us. We’ll be following all the action, of course, at the United Nations General Assembly.