QUESTION: Joining us right now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Secretary Pompeo, thanks for joining us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Larry, it’s great to be with you today.
QUESTION: Boy, there’s a lot going on in the news, and I know that you have been a busy man. I guess Secretary of State means you’re going to be traveling the world. But you’ve been very busy in the last week specifically with a trip to Japan, and that, of course, continues your focus on the Chinese Communist Party. Talk to me about what happened in Japan and where we stand right now with the Communist Party of China.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it was an important trip. We were continuing to build out the coalition that is working to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t become the global hegemon that it seeks to become, and control lives here in America and present risks to Americans in ways that are – were happening for an awfully long time here, and President Trump has just said that’s not going to take place anymore.
So I met with my counterparts from Japan, from India, and from Australia, and we began to develop a set of understandings and policies together that can jointly take those big economies, those big democracies, and work to present a true resistance to the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to each of our nations.
QUESTION: When you speak with these important allies in Asia, what are you hearing from them, or as much as you can tell us, about how long they’ve been feeling the heat from China, and how important it is to them to have a strong partner in the United States on this endeavor?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight. But they’ve all seen it, whether it’s the Indians, who are actually having a physical confrontation with the Chinese up in the Himalayas in the northeastern part of India – right? – the Chinese have now begun to amass huge forces against India in the north – whether it’s the Australians who did the simple thing of saying the Chinese screwed this deal up with the virus, and we’d like to understand what happened and said we ought to have a full investigation, and in exchange for that, the Chinese Communist Party began to extort, coerce, bully the Australians.
Every one of these countries has seen this, and frankly, we – they all sat on it for decades, too, but now the world can begin to see it. The people in each of these countries – I think I saw a poll that said 81 percent of Australians now understand the Chinese Communist Party presents a threat to them. The world has awakened. The tide’s begun to turn. And the United States under President Trump’s leadership has now built out a coalition that will push back against the threat and maintain good order, the rule of law, and the basic civic decency that comes from democracies controlling the world and not authoritarian regimes.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about what you inherited as Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo? Because listen, Vice President Biden, obviously he’s running for president; in three and a half weeks the American people will decide. And in many respects, he’s running, in terms of foreign policy, on let’s go back to what we were doing under Obama-Biden, and that includes resetting what you have been able to accomplish with China and going back to the way it was. What would that look like?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, you don’t have to guess. They laid down their – the strategy. The Obama-Biden team laid down their strategy with China. It was to cooperate, work together, find ways to coexist, and to accept the Chinese Communist Party at its word. So when, for example, General Secretary Xi, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, told President Obama in the Rose Garden, I’m not going to arm the islands in the South China Sea, they said, great, sounds good. And of course, he immediately proceeded to arm them.
This administration is about making sure that we verify. When they say they’re going to do something, we hold them accountable when they don’t. The previous administration just didn’t take this threat seriously. We had spies running rampant around the United States. You’ve seen, under President Trump, we closed the consulate – the Chinese consulate in Houston where there was truly a den of spies operating. We’ve begun to respond to the challenges that the Chinese Communist Party presented, the economic challenges the President responded to with his economic efforts to impose real costs on China when they were engaged in economic predatory activity that was denying millions of jobs to Americans here at home.
These are serious responses to the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party presents, and we took over in a place where, frankly, we had just bent the knee, we had appeased the Chinese, and we had allowed them to run rampant across important American interests. President Trump said no more.
QUESTION: You’ve been unequivocal – since the advent of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide pandemic, you’ve been unequivocal about China’s role in this, about China’s reluctance to share information and be a good international partner, with all nations suffering due to this virus. You’ve been unequivocal about, first of all, of course, the steps you took very early on; I believe January 1st was the first State Department release on COVID-19 and precautions in China with regard to that.
Now that we see that the virus has made its way to the White House and even to the President of the United States, at what point, Secretary Pompeo, does China need to actually pay a penalty for this? I mean, this is a virus that you have said that they are responsible for and they helped spread around the world through their lies and indifference, and now the President of the United States has been stricken with it. Shouldn’t there be some retaliation?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Absolutely, and you’re starting to see this formulated. And it’s not just the United States that understands the need for this, and it’s not just the United States that understand that the Chinese covered this up, that they disappeared journalists, and took medical doctors who wanted to talk about what was going on and told them, no, you can’t speak about it, and then allowed tens of thousands of people to leave Wuhan and travel to Europe and across the word. The world is responding.
There will be real costs imposed. President Trump is being presented options, ways to respond. I don’t want to get out in front of the decisions he’ll make, but it is not only appropriate but necessary that a nation that made this kind of decision, that’s now cost over a million lives across the world and countless trillions of dollars in economic wealth for ordinary Americans and people of the middle class all across the world, there has to be a cost imposed. And President Trump said just the other day again, he will lead that effort.
QUESTION: Speaking of covering up and the Communist Party in Beijing, I don’t know if you saw the vice-presidential debate, your friend and colleague, Vice President Mike Pence, with Senator Kamala Harris. There was a moment where the question had to do with our relationship with China. And when Vice President Pence gave his answer, the – it was censored. They went to a test pattern across China. And then they allowed – the Communist Party in Beijing allowed Senator Harris’s answer to be broadcast across that nation.
I mean, that’s a pretty good example of how totalitarian this nation is. And I’m curious: What is it about Mike Pence’s and your position and President Trump’s position on China that is so concerning to Beijing, but they seem fine with Kamala Harris?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think in some ways it speaks for itself. (Laughter.) This is a regime that censors anyone who dares to challenge the Chinese Communist Party, but is perfectly prepared to permit information to flow in if it supports the theory of the case that the Chinese Communist Party puts forward, if it’s consistent with their policy.
So the decision they made on censorship that night reflects what we see nearly everywhere and nearly always – any time someone is talking about the massive human rights violation in Western China or speaking to the fact that they’re stealing intellectual property, this will be screened from the citizens of China. But if you wanted to say how great General Secretary Xi – Xi Jinping was or you wanted to talk about the glories of the history of China, well, they would welcome that from the outside. And so I think the decision they made about what to permit and what not to permit reflects at least their view of what those two people were saying that night.
QUESTION: We’re speaking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And Secretary Pompeo, sadly, you don’t even have to go all the way to Beijing to see that kind of behavior. I don’t know if you noticed this; I’m sure you have. There’s op-eds and editorial content in The New York Times and The Washington Post that seems very – I don’t want to use the word “apologetic” for the Communist Party in Beijing, but certainly supportive and sort of almost speaks from their perspective on world events. And at the same time, those two newspapers, they make a lot of money with advertising supplements from China, from Beijing, from the Communist Party. Is there an inherent conflict of interest there with regard to what we’re getting from The Washington Post and New York Times with regard to this very important issue?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve seen this very issue, Larry, appear throughout U.S. media and, frankly, for that matter, Western media more broadly, whether it’s the actions that are taken by America’s movie who permit Chinese storylines to be edited or Chinese storylines to be edited out based on what the Chinese Communist Party thinks, because they want access to the hundreds of millions of movie viewers inside of China. Or to your point about media, who permits the Chinese Communist Party to use economic power to influence, to mollify, to shape their storylines. This is unacceptable. We’ve been pretty clear; we’ve asked each of these companies to be candid, to be honest, to at least disclose from whom they’re taking money and to tell the story straight up and tell the facts straight.
We hope Hollywood will get this story as well, we hope professional sports teams that have shied away from this as well. We’ve seen the NBA that has a huge business model inside of China – we’d ask them only to engage in a way that’s consistent with their obligations to the American people, to tell the truth about what’s really taking place inside of China and the censorship that is being applied against them when they speak out in ways that are inconsistent with what leadership in the Chinese Communist Party would like.
QUESTION: I think we’d love The New York Times and The Washington Post to tell the truth about everything, not just China. But yes, we’ll start there, Mr. Secretary.
I don’t want to leave Iran out of the mix. I know that you were in Europe recently and I know that there’s been a huge push there in terms of gathering our allies and making sure that they’re not doing the kind of business that they were enjoying with Iran after the Iran nuclear deal. What’s happening right now with Iran and our relationship there? And again, compare that to where we might go if Vice President Biden should win.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we know where we took over. The previous administration was allowing businesses across Europe to invest. They transferred big piles of cash to the Islamic Republic of Iran. That money ended up conducting terror campaigns, and as I think Secretary Kerry said, there’s no way to guarantee that it wasn’t used to harm citizens of the United States of America.
We took the exact opposite approach. We built out a coalition all across the world that understands the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And just yesterday, Secretary Mnuchin announced another series of cost-imposing measures against the regime inside of Iran to try to change their behavior, and at the very least, deny them the wealth and the resources that they need to foment their terror campaigns.
We’ve made real progress in the four years President Trump has been in office. We’ve denied tens of billions of dollars in wealth for these terrorists that threaten Israel and threaten Europe and threaten the United States. There’s more work to do, but we are aiming to continue and we hope that four more years will deliver really good outcomes: increased security for the Middle East, increased security for the people of Israel, and a less destabilizing region so that the people of the United States don’t have a threat to the homeland as well.
QUESTION: And final question, Secretary Pompeo. I know you’re on the run here. But I just wanted to get you to chime in. Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided she wants to set up a commission to evaluate from Congress’s perspective about the stability, health, and competence of the President of the United States with regard to the 25th Amendment. The 25th Amendment clearly spells out that it is the senior executive officers in the administration that would make that judgment – the vice president, along with – I mean, traditionally, the secretary of state and secretary of treasury are the two most senior positions in the cabinet because they go all the way back to George Washington. Do you see this as an attempt for the speaker to usurp the authority of the Executive Branch?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Frankly, I’ve only seen a little bit of it, Larry. It looks pretty kooky to me. Look, I don’t want to be political, but it’s pretty clear what the Constitution requires here and, most importantly, I’ve also spent a fair amount of time talking to President Trump over the last week. Talk about succession is silly. He was very capable of executing the duties of the office of the President of the United States.
QUESTION: Well, maybe he’s – maybe she’s anticipating President Biden.
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) One doesn’t know. You’d have to ask her, I suppose.
QUESTION: Well, you could speculate, Mr. Secretary. I mean, you know —
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll leave that to you, Larry.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) You can’t hurt me for trying. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, great to talk with you as always.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
QUESTION: From California to Kansas, to West Point to Washington, D.C., we are seeing much of Mike Pompeo and we will in the future as well. Secretary Pompeo, thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Larry. Have a good day, sir.