QUESTION: Again folks, this is Breitbart News Saturday here on SiriusXM 125, the Patriot channel. I’m Matt Boyle, our Washington political editor. We have a very special guest on the line here, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Thank you, Secretary Pompeo, for coming on the show. I wanted to have you on to talk in depth about China, and we’ll get to that in a couple minutes, but you were just in Israel this week with Prime Minister Netanyahu, so let’s start there. Can you tell us about your trip to Israel, your meeting with Netanyahu, and about the broader Vision for Peace plan that you and President Trump have been championing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Matt, thank you. I appreciate the chance to be on. I did have a great visit. It was short. I was only on the ground there for a half a dozen hours or so, but we had a series of important things to talk about. We have developed a deep, important partnership with the state of Israel. They’re good partners of ours; they’re important. This is, to so many people in the world, an important place religiously, but they’re also an important security partner, and we went to talk about those things. It was on the eve of them forming their new government after multiple elections, and we talked about the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran and how much progress we’ve made since we recovered from the horrible decisions the previous administration had made in entering the JCPOA.
We went there also to talk about the work that we can do to promote our efforts to tamp down on anti-Semitism, so we talked about that. And then we also had the chance to talk about China’s efforts there in Israel, to make clear to our Israeli partners and friends that the risk of the Chinese Communist Party getting their hands on their technology, their high-end systems. It’s a very capable, high-end, high-tech country. We wanted to make sure they understood the risks associated with that as well.
QUESTION: So you said while you were there in Israel that Iran is attempting to use the coronavirus pandemic to, quote, “foment terror.” Can you elaborate on that? What are they doing? What is fomenting terror?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So you continue to have, in spite of the Iranian leadership demanding that more money be given to them, they are using the resources that they have to continue funding Hizballah in Lebanon and threatening the state of Israel, funding Iraqi terrorist Shia groups, all the things that they have done historically – continuing to build out their capabilities even while the people inside of their own country are suffering. And so they’ve said that it’s been our sanctions that have harmed them. Frankly, the Iranian regime is the group responsible for all the hardship that exists inside of Iran, and in fact it is the Iranian people who are demanding a change in the nature of that regime.
QUESTION: And so this kind of brings me to the main topic of what I really wanted to talk to you about today, which is China and the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Secretary, you’ve been relentless in criticizing the Chinese Communist Government for their handling of this virus outbreak, in particular the likelihood – the increasing likelihood that this virus came from the laboratory there in Wuhan, the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Can – the Chinese deny this, of course. Can you tell us where we are in this whole investigative effort of the origins of the coronavirus?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, sadly, Matt, we’re not much further than we were weeks and weeks ago. The Chinese Communist Party has relentlessly deceived and denied information to the West. We have repeatedly asked to have teams go in to assist them in identifying where the virus originated. We know it began in Wuhan, but we don’t know from where or from whom, and those are important things. Your listeners need to know we still need to know that so that we can crack the code on this thing. One of the key facts for scientists and epidemiologists to build out vaccines and therapeutics and to identify how this was ultimately delivered to the world – you have to know where patient zero began and how patient zero became infected. And yet the Chinese Communist Party, at every turn, has attempted to manage the World Health Organization, to manage the information flow, to punish doctors who wanted to talk about this publicly, to undermine the central understandings of transparency that every country has a responsibility to deliver.
And as a result of that, we still have so many unanswered questions. We – the United States – the world has so many unanswered questions that are incredibly important so that we can address this issue going forward to keep American people safe. This isn’t political. This isn’t aimed at achieving a political victory. It is aimed squarely at getting the right health outcomes and saving lives all across the world.
QUESTION: Yeah. So on that note, independent studies have shown us that if the Chinese had been honest with us from the beginning about this, and honest with the world about this, that as high as 95 percent of the deaths and destruction could have been avoided. What are your thoughts on that? Are you thinking that if they had been honest we could have avoided the significant economic and obviously health damage that we’ve seen from this virus here in the United States and elsewhere around the world?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Matt, we know this much. We know that in December at least, maybe earlier, the Chinese Communist Party came to understand the threat that was presented. And then we watched their actions – I’ve talked about some of them – denying information to the world. We then saw that when the United States made the decision, when President Trump made the decision to close off travel between the United States and China, we saw China squawk at that, saying you shouldn’t be doing that. Even though they had locked down Wuhan, they had not locked down travel all across the world.
Those are the kinds of decisions that, as you stare at them, it is unambiguous that they created increased risk, that people were still traveling around the world – why? While the Chinese Communist Party knew of the risk of transmission it was still allowing people to travel outside of China while they had locked down a major city inside of their own country. We know those all to be facts, and we know had they made a different set of decisions at the front end there would have been more time for the entire world – not just for the United States but for the entire world – to prepare and react to the pandemic that has now spread all across the globe.
QUESTION: So what should be the penalty for the Chinese here? I mean, the American people are demanding that there be – I mean, if you look at the polls, they’re saying 70 percent, maybe even higher, people want to see China held accountable. How do we do that? What – how do we hold China accountable? How do we enforce that? What does that look like? Can you tell us that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t want to get out in front of what President Trump will ultimately decide, but I think we all know in this administration that we have to make sure that something like this can never happen again. That means deterrence. That means setting up processes. The President’s already stopped funding to the WHO so that we can evaluate that and figure out which pieces of the WHO might actually work and which pieces don’t, so that we can deliver good outcomes and keep Americans safe and make sure this doesn’t happen again.
And then there’ll come a time, there will come a day, when we will evaluate what it is needs to be done to convince the Chinese Communist Party that there are real costs – real costs – connected to this kind of misbehavior. You know this, Matt. We see this all the time inside the United States but around the world too. We have to hold nations accountable. And I’ve talked to many of my counterparts around the world. We have to hold nations accountable for the things and actions that they undertake which create risk and, in this case, created enormous loss of life here in the United States. President Trump is committed to doing that. The precise mechanisms that we will choose, I want to make sure that he gets the chance to get fully briefed and make those decisions.
QUESTION: So Mr. Secretary, also in recent days we’ve seen Chinese state media threaten U.S. lawmakers like Senator Tom Cotton, like Congressman Jim Banks, who’ve been very outspoken on China. They’ve threatened states like Missouri, which is trying to sue the Chinese. They’ve threatened media outlets, including us at Breitbart, The Wall Street Journal, other places. What are your thoughts about these threats that are coming from Chinese state media against Americans, whether they be U.S. states, whether they be members of Congress, whether they be media outlets like us, Breitbart or The Wall Street Journal, other places as well? What are your thoughts about that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They have come at me too – all kinds of names. I think this shows that the Chinese Communist Party understands the risk that they have put on top of their own nation. I think those attacks demonstrate weakness, not resolve, by the Chinese Communist Party.
Matt, you and I are both old enough to remember. We know how communist regimes, how autocracies behave. When they know that they have done things that are wrong, they strike out; they try to blame others. I think that’s what you’re seeing.
They also try to maneuver around the world through disinformation, and we have been clear – President Trump, myself, the State Department have been clear – about making sure that everybody understands the facts surrounding the Chinese Communist Party. We were at this long before the coronavirus, where we called out the fact that they had kicked out American journalists.
We had been talking about the fact that they haven’t followed their own promises, their commitment not to arm the South China Sea, to put weapons there. They promised they wouldn’t do it. They have done it. They have promised a commitment to the people of Hong Kong with “one country, two systems.” They continue to diminish freedom in Hong Kong.
This goes – when it comes to what the Chinese Communist Party is doing, it goes so far beyond just what’s happened in the time of this coronavirus. I think the American people and I hope people all across the world understand the risk to the globe, to freedom-loving countries and democracies around the world, that are presented by the actions of the Chinese Communist Party.
QUESTION: Yeah, so on that note, this – well, the pandemic has definitely thrust this into the forefront of everybody’s minds, into the spotlight, this whole threat of a rising Beijing. But I know this is an issue you’ve been working on for a long time, combating the Belt and Road Initiative. If you – can you kind of explain that? Because I know – I believe we had one of our reporters with you on a trip to Northern Europe, where again they were trying to build inroads into the Arctic. And they’ve been doing this all around the globe, where they’ve been trying to build their international influence. And this is something that I know you’ve taken a lot of steps to counter around the world.
Can you tell us about this? Because I think their efforts to try to, whether it be control the Eurasian land mass, whether it be building control of shipping lanes, and so on and so forth all around the world, their geopolitical quest for control and dominance is serious, and I know it’s something that you’re fighting on a regular basis. So can you tell us more broadly about that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Matt, you’ve captured it very, very well. The Chinese Communist Party working inside of their own country is one thing. Their efforts to create control and influence around the world are quite another and we have a responsibility to fix that. President Trump got this right in his campaign. He talks about it an awful lot. This is something that presidents of both political parties ignored for far too long. President Trump has taken it on squarely. You – we’ve seen it, it’s very public what he’s done in trade to try and make sure that that is fair and reciprocal.
But your point, your point about China’s efforts to use their wealth, state-owned enterprises, and their authoritarian regime in Africa, in the Arctic, in the straits, the sea lanes all around the world, present real risk to the United States of America and to free nations. And we are working to push back against that.
We want good things, Matt, for the Chinese people. We hold no brook against them. But the regime, the Chinese Communist Party itself, is acting in ways that are much to the detriment of the United States of America. And President Trump has made clear we’re going to make sure and protect, keep Americans safe, and do everything we can to make sure that Americans can operate freely around the world in a way that is fair, and reciprocal, and equitable.
QUESTION: Yeah, Mr. Secretary, I know you’re tight on time, so this’ll be my last question for you. And I want to definitely go deeper with you down the road, so – on this, because I know this is an important issue.
But my last question for you here today is: This influence operation that they’re building around the world – very similar, by the way, to what the Soviet Union was doing, another communist regime, in the past – but they’ve got – we’ve seen American professors at universities getting convicted of being on the take from Chinese Communist Party officials. We’ve seen their efforts to use state-backed companies like Huawei to try to infiltrate the Western world’s technology infrastructure. What are some of the things that you’re doing to combat the broader influence operations that the Chinese Communist Party has employed, whether it be here in the United States or elsewhere around the world?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Matt, this is connected to what you talked about with the Belt and Road Initiative, but it is also true here inside the United States. I spoke to the National Governors Association a few months back, where I shared that they are working to influence governors, mayors, school board members, people all – private business owners, to influence them to put the bright face of China on when it is in fact the Chinese Communist Party that’s seeking to exert their influence here inside of the United States.
This is primarily the responsibility of the FBI to police, but your listeners should know the State Department is doing its part too. We put restrictions on their diplomats who are moving around America, the same ones that they put on our diplomats as they’re traveling in China. This effort to influence what’s going on here in the United States is a very serious matter. You talked about our universities and our research lab. This is not about good Chinese people working on commercial projects. We find that acceptable. This is about the Chinese Communist Party exerting its influence here in the United States for missions that are deeply connected to the regime in China trying to exert influence in places where it ought not to be, and we’re going to do everything we can to push back against that.
QUESTION: All right. Well, Secretary Pompeo, I really want to thank you for coming on the program here. And where can people go to learn more about what you guys are doing at the State Department?
SECRETARY POMPEO: If you go to state.gov, you’ll see a series of sets of remarks, and you’ll see the actions that our team has taken as well. It’s a good place to go find consolidated the efforts we have to make sure and defend America, and keep us all safe and prosperous here at home even in these challenging times, Matt.
QUESTION: All right. Well, Secretary Pompeo, thank you for coming on the program. Thank you for everything you’re doing for America. I really want to thank you again.