QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to talk with the South Carolina Corps of Cadets at 10 o’clock this morning, but he decided he wanted to get up much earlier and speak with us live. Mr. Secretary, it’s a pleasure to have you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s wonderful to be with you, Michal. It’s always good to get up on Veterans Day bright and early, just like the old days.
QUESTION: Absolutely. You’ve mentioned Veterans Day. The remarks that you’re going to be making today, it’s all a part of the Greater Issues Series that the Citadel has been putting on for decades. What do you plan to talk with them about?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s very kind of them to include me. I have never had a chance to be in the Citadel before, so I am looking forward to being with these amazing young men and women. I want to talk to them about the power of service, what it means to America. I now serve as America’s chief diplomat. I had the privilege to serve as a young soldier 30-odd years ago, and I want to talk to them about their service and why it matters to America, what it is they’re doing, the task that is laid before them, the challenges that America is presented in the world, and then I want to thank them all for their commitment to the United States as well. And I want to get a chance to get to talk to all the veterans today and thank them for what they have done to keep you and I safe and sacrifice themselves and put themselves and their families at risk on behalf of the United States of America.
QUESTION: If you could dive in a little bit further into that, if there was one thing the cadets are going to take away from today, what is that one thing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I believe there is real power in service and sacrifice, that it is noble and it is worthy. There will be critics from time to time, there will be those who take shots, but it is a noble undertaking, and every American should spend some part of their life as a time of service. We are so privileged here in the United States; sometimes, frankly, we take it a little bit for granted. And on this day, on this special day of Veterans Day, I want to make sure they know how much America and President Trump and our entire leadership team appreciates their willingness to consider this service for our country.
QUESTION: Speaking of President Trump, one of the national topics that’s talked about, going to be talked about going into this week, is the House opening their public hearings into the impeachment inquiry into the President. What are your thoughts?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I hope everyone who testifies will go do so truthfully, accurately. When they do, the oversight role will have been performed, and I think America will come to see what took place here. I was part of America’s Ukraine policy. We were very clear. We wanted to make sure that the corruption that has been existing in Ukraine for an awfully long time was reduced, and President Zelensky had the capability to do that.
And then this President wanted to make sure, too, that Vladimir Putin wouldn’t be able to inflict hardship on the people of Ukraine, so we provided defensive weapons systems to the people of Ukraine. The previous administration chose not to do that. They chose to provide blankets. We gave them real weapons, where they could fight against the Russians. I am proud of what the administration did with its Ukraine policy.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we appreciate you being here this morning. This is going to conclude our live on-air interview, but we are streaming right now on Facebook as well. I have several more questions for you. I know we have a few more minutes with you as well. That is streaming right now live on Facebook. Just go to Facebook.com, search Live 5 News, and we are going to continue that right now. Reporting live in Mount Pleasant, for now, for Live 5 News, I’m Michal Higdon.
All right, we are clear that way.
SECRETARY POMPEO: All right.
QUESTION: For those of you joining us still on Facebook, we are going to continue our questions here with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Is there something that you’re expecting out of the inquiry and the hearings starting this week?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, just for folks to go and tell the truth, be candid, tell them what they know. If they don’t know the answer, I hope they’ll say they don’t know the answer. This is each of our duties. This is everyone’s obligation.
QUESTION: A lot of things internationally right now, the Ukraine thing being one of them, the troops in Syria being pulled out. For you, what is one of the biggest things in regards to foreign policy that you’re focusing on?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Goodness, there’s so many. I just on Saturday returned back from Germany, where I was reminded of my time in service as a young soldier. It was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, where communist tyranny had created such awfulness for so many people for so long, and America played an important part of gaining freedom and liberty and freeing the shackles of communism from the people of East Germany and then ultimately the Soviet Union as well. It’s remarkable. It reminds me of why I’m here today traveling to talk to these young people who are considering a life of service to America. There’s good things that can follow if we’re determined. If we work hard, if we keep our faith, then America can do good things to keep the American people safe and to promote liberty and freedom around the world as well.
QUESTION: Looking at more of a local issue that we have been facing, flooding is a major thing in Charleston right now. We have local leaders that actually went to the Netherlands, spoke with a team there that really worked to fix their flooding problem, and in response they had a team also come back to Charleston and lay out exactly what they believe we should do to help fix our issue. Where is your stance on – and more of an umbrella statement – on local leaders looking internationally for help?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I think it’s fine, I think it’s great. The best ideas don’t always come here. The world is a big place with creative, wonderful, talented people all across the world. In fact, on this very set of issues around the risk of flooding, we work with teams in the Pacific Islands who fear that their water levels will rise, so it’s important. Every locality should do this. Here in the United States we should make sure that we protect our people, keep our homes and our property and our people safe. So I welcome ideas, whether they come from places like South Carolina or places like Europe.
QUESTION: And looking at international businesses, Governor Henry McMaster has really made it a point to bring international companies here to South Carolina, the latest one being the Volvo plant. It’s the first plant they’ve had in the United States. Speak to me on that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s fantastic. We love when companies come and grow jobs here in America. It’s been one of President Trump’s primary missions. I had a chance to speak with Governor McMaster just a bit last night. He talked about the great economy and the fact that unemployment was very, very low here. That’s awesome. He said that Charleston is moving, South Carolina is moving. Those are great things. And so when international companies see that you have a president who is prepared to get rid of regulations, encourage economic growth, companies will come invest here, creating really good, high-paying jobs for people all across America, including great places like here in South Carolina.
QUESTION: I know one of the big issues and things that some of the car manufacturers are facing are the tariffs on metal and steel. What would you say to them?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, look, it’s a mixed bag. What we know is this: Tariffs, when they’re imposed unfairly on American businesses, are just wrong. Every country has an obligation to have a fair and reciprocal trading system with the United States of America. And so if you look at what President Trump has done, he put forward the USMCA, the deal between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. I hope that Speaker Pelosi will bring that forward and pass it. That would be great for places like South Carolina. The USMCA needs to pass. I hope Congress will spend some amount of time working on real legislation that will benefit the people of South Carolina.
These trade issues are very important to Americans. I know when I ran a small business in Kansas, we tried to do business in China, and it wasn’t fair. The rules were unequal. And when I was a member of Congress, our farmers tried to sell their products in Kansas[i], and they couldn’t. Their agriculture products couldn’t enter that country on a fair and reciprocal basis. That’s what President Trump is working towards. We’ve made real progress. I hope we get the first part of the deal done with China in the next handful of weeks. It will be a good thing for people all across the United States.
QUESTION: And I know that we need to wrap this up. Final thoughts going into today. You said this was your first time speaking at the Citadel. Are you nervous?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’ll be great fun. I was looking at some pictures, and I realized how young I once was when I saw a picture of these amazing cadets in the Corps in the Citadel. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll have an exchange. I’ll take questions from them as well. I want to hear what’s on their mind. I’m sure I’ll learn from them as well, and I hope I get a chance to say thank you to all the young men and women that are out there today.
QUESTION: Fantastic. All right, it should be good. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Pleasure to meet you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you so much.
QUESTION: Thank you for spending time with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: You bet.