QUESTION: So to start things off, your pick to temporarily lead the embassy in Ukraine, veteran diplomat Bill Taylor, says you assured him to accept the position that U.S. support for Ukraine would remain strong, but then he goes on to describe a shadow foreign policy led by Rudy Giuliani. Do you support the work that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So as America’s Secretary of State, we’ve had a singular mission with respect to Ukraine for my entire time as the Secretary of State. It was to do two or three things very squarely. First, we had a change in leadership there. Mr. Zelensky came to be elected with a huge majority. We wanted to support him and make sure that he could be successful in doing what he campaigned on. He campaigned on taking down corruption. If you know the history of Ukraine, it is deeply flawed and with great harm to the Ukrainian people with corruption in nearly every corner of the Ukrainian economy. And so our policy has been to try and do the things we could do to help them root out that corruption. We wanted to support Mr. Zelensky.
And the second, it’s under threat from Vladimir Putin and Russia. And when we had come into office, the previous administration had done nothing, nothing to protect the Ukrainian people, nothing to help them defend themselves, and nothing to support their security interests. President Trump did just the opposite of that, not once, not twice, but now three times. We have provided defensive assistance. The State Department has provided – goodness, I think this year about $140 million worth of assistance to the Ukrainian people, all aimed squarely at enabling them to recover from what happened on President Obama’s watch. Right? Vladimir Putin took Crimea under President Obama’s watch. The Russians moved into the Donbas, the southeast region of Ukraine, under President Obama’s watch. And this administration has flipped that, and has a policy to be incredibly supportive of the people of Ukraine and Mr. Zelensky’s efforts to undercut the incentive system that has driven corruption there.
QUESTION: So was Mr. Giuliani’s efforts aligned, then, with the State Department?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve been working tirelessly on delivering the outcomes, right? This is a results-based administration. This is about realism. It’s about being practical. It’s about delivering on real outcomes to keep the American people safe. Our interest in Ukraine has consistently been aimed at the singular focus of what’s in America’s best interest – that is, how do we get the outcome that keeps the American people safe. A strong, less corrupt, more secure Ukrainian people helps Ukraine, it helps Europe, and in that pushes back against the threats that are from Russia that actually pose real threats to people right here in Wichita, Kansas, the reason that I came to Kansas today.
QUESTION: So the President has said that there is no quid pro quo. So when Taylor – was Taylor essentially then lying when he described a scenario by U.S. aid to Ukraine was contingent on an investigation of Burisma?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m not going to comment on things from the inquiry. I came to Kansas today to talk about an important project, a project where we’re growing human capital. We want the private sector very engaged in creating a workforce for the next century.
Senior Advisor Trump has singularly been focused on this with great success, and when I heard she was coming to Wichita a few months back, she and I agreed we’d try and find a date where I could join her to work on this important project, because it has real important security implications as well. Without a strong American economy, we can’t do what I just described. We wouldn’t have the resources to provide assistance to Ukraine to help keep them safe, and thereby help secure the American people too.
So this idea of job training, workforce development, the private sector engaged in training the 21st century workforce is deeply connected to my job as the Secretary of State as well. That’s why it’s great to be back here in Kansas today where I can talk about that message, talk about that message so the people of Kansas can hear, but people all across the world will see that America is committed to making sure we have a strong, robust economy and we will continue to be the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.
QUESTION: So the President’s press secretary has described some current and former members of your department, the State Department, as “unelected radical bureaucrats.” I know Vice President Mike Pence in an interview recently said an awful lot of the swamp has been caught up in the State Department bureaucracy. Do you agree with these descriptions of the State Department and employees in the department?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve said repeatedly this a talented, diverse workforce capably delivering on America’s mission set. I hope we get a chance, Stephen, sometime to talk a little bit about what I came on today. You seem fixated on this storyline about this inquiry. You seem incredibly fixated on that. I came here to Kansas today to talk about things that really matter, the things that when I walk around and I talk to people they care deeply about here in Kansas. That’s what the American people want to talk about. You seem inordinately focused on the noise.
The reality for the American people is that we have the lowest unemployment rate for minorities in an awfully long time. We’ve got more people working today than an awfully long time. We’ve got training programs and workforce development that are letting people who have come in industries that aren’t succeeding be reskilled and retrained. These are the things that matter to the American people, and they are what enable the Secretary of State as he travels the world to be successful in convincing other nations that they want to be our partner, they want to be our ally, they want to work with us on important national security problems that are facing their people as well.
Those are the things that the American people care about. Those are the things that the people of Wichita, Kansas, where you and I are sitting today – this is what they care about, not the noise, the silliness that you’re describing, the breathless moment by moment. The inquiry will proceed. The work will be done. Congress will perform its oversight function. And then what we’ll do, what this administration will do is we’ll continue to focus on the things that really matter to the American people.
QUESTION: Then along those lines, United States and China have agreed on a preliminary trade deal earlier this month. In regards to Kansas farmers, what would that trade agreement mean for them?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I hope we get that done. President Trump’s described it as a phase one deal, the first part. It would have a – important implications for Kansas agriculture, Iowa agriculture, people who are ranchers and farmers all across this region. I’m very hopeful we’ll do that. I remember when I was a member of Congress, I would hear from farmers all the time that they couldn’t sell their products into China, that they were – the market was closed to them, and they were demanding that we fix that.
Frankly, this isn’t partisan. Neither Republican nor Democrat administrations previously had been willing to take on that challenge. President Trump has done so. It’s not easy to get the Chinese Government to open their market to our products. They want to protect their own and protect others and use it for political ends, but I hope we’re close. I think – if I understand where we sit precisely, I think we’re close to getting that phase one deal done, and it would be a good thing. It would be a good thing not only for farmers and ranchers here in Kansas, but all the businesses that supply them, all those that are around them. It would help grow the American economy. By the way, it would be good for the people of China, too, to have Kansas products in their markets, safe, healthy, affordable food in their markets, too. It will be a great thing for the world if we can get that completed.
QUESTION: I believe you have to run. So thank you very much for your time.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, sir. You have a good day.
QUESTION: Thank you.