QUESTION: All right, here with Secretary Mike Pompeo. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great to be with you. Thanks for having me on.
QUESTION: Here for the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, honoring our veterans and our military, and it’s obviously a topic of great importance to you as Secretary of State when it comes to global affairs and American involvement in the world. So I want to ask by – I want to start by asking broadly, is the world a safer place than it was four years ago or a more chaotic one? And where are we headed when it comes to American involvement in global affairs?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m very confident that it’s a safer place today than it was when this administration took over. I could go through the places, but know that it’s American leadership, a core belief that America is a force for good around the world, that has permitted us to take down threats that were in North Korea. You will remember we were on the brink of a really bad situation there. We’re now continuing to work to denuclearize North Korea. When we came into office, ISIS was on the rise throughout the Middle East, and we’ve taken down the caliphate.
The list of places where we’ve enhanced American security is long and we’re proud of what we accomplished. There’s still a lot of risk out there in the world, and it’s what my team at the State Department and our Department of Defense – great soldiers, sailors, air, Marines – are working on to protect the American people every day.
QUESTION: I want to talk about the trade war as well. The President at the G7 this past week – obviously, a lot of talk about trade and China. Farmers here in Indiana have really been struggling this year. You recently told a group of business executives that you think the trade war with China could come to an end by next year’s election. Are those talks ongoing, and how are they progressing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: President Trump took on a challenge that I knew well. I served as a member of Congress from Kansas, another farm state, where we grew wheat and corn, all of the kinds of things we do here in Indiana as well, and I watched. I watched China block our products from being sold. And I watched Europe, too, deny our high-quality farm products access to their markets, and President Trump is determined to fix that, to the great benefit of farmers and working-class manufacturing people – I ran a small manufacturing business in Kansas – manufacturing people all across America.
So we’re working to fix it. The timeline’s always difficult to predict, but make no mistake about it: President Trump is out making sure, fighting on behalf of those who want to serve those markets that have been unfairly displaced by the fact that China just wouldn’t permit our products to move in. And frankly, when they did take our products, they stole the intellectual property that underlays them. We’re going to fix those things. These are tough fights. President Trump is determined.
QUESTION: Some have blamed the President’s tweets, though, for the market reacting the way it did last Friday. Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 called for the trade war to be toned down in some – to some degree. What was your reaction to the prime minister’s remarks on that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The focus inside the administration is really very plain. It is to get a good outcome for American workers and for American farmers. That’s it. There’s a lot of noise, lots of folks saying things, talking about different things, but our efforts are very focused. We know the things that China must do to open those markets and permit our companies to trade in a fair and reciprocal way. If your company wanted to invest in China, it couldn’t do so in the same way a Chinese company could invest in America. That’s not right; it’s not fair to American workers. President Trump’s going to fix it.
QUESTION: I want to ask about Dan Coats as well – of course, served as senator right here in Indiana before becoming director of national intelligence. He left the administration this past month after a lot of reports that he and the President were perhaps not always on the same page. Was that the case from your perspective?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I had the chance to work closely with Dan. I was the CIA director when he was the director of national intelligence, so he led the team that supervised the CIA. I got to see him. We briefed the President – goodness gracious – almost every day for a long time, a year and a half. I was proud to do it alongside him. He served America and Indiana as well. I think there just came a time where Dan decided for a host of reasons he would go on to the next chapter of his life. I thanked Dan for his service personally. I did it publicly as well. He’s a great American and a true patriot.
QUESTION: There were reports, though, that Director Coats thought his warnings about Russian aggression were being watered down.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s just not true. I’ve watched this President – usually around election interference is where that boogeyman arises. I’ve watched this administration take on election interference in the most serious ways. It was the previous administration – everybody has to remember it was the previous administration where the 2016 shenanigans took place that the world has focused on, and we’re determined to make sure that no country, whether it’s Iran or North Korea or China or Russia, interferes in the next election. We were pretty successful in the 2018 election, and I’m confident we’ll be successful in 2020 as well.
QUESTION: Should Russia be invited back into the G7? Should it be the G8 again? The President has spoken about that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, the President thinks so.
QUESTION: Do you agree?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The President thinks that’s what we should do. I work for the President. Of course we’re going to work towards that end.
QUESTION: What about Iran? More talks at the G7 this past week. Could there be a new nuclear deal with Iran in the works?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve been aiming to do a couple simple things. First is to ensure that the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the revolutionary regime in Iran, doesn’t conduct terror around the world, and we continue to work towards that. We don’t want them to get a nuclear weapon. We have applied enormous pressure to enable the Iranian people to change the direction of their leadership. That’s our hope; that’s our goal. When they do that, there’ll be a new solution, there’ll be a new understanding and set of agreements. We hope that that comes sooner rather than later. It would be in the best interests of the world for that to happen, and most importantly, it would create security for the American people. That’s our mission and it’s our aim.
QUESTION: Was the G7 a success in your view?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, it was absolutely successful. I think those leaders now understand America’s position on a broad range of issues in ways that they couldn’t do without having had that personal interaction with America’s leader.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thank you so much for taking the time with us. We appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.