QUESTION: Joining us tonight, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, great to see you. Thanks for being with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Lou, it’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: I’d like to begin, if I may, with the Intelligence Committee hearings and its chair, Adam Schiff. Do you believe these hearings are legitimate, appropriate?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No. I, from the beginning, have been unhappy, unhappy because officers of the State Department have had to go testify without counsel from the State Department there, without the ability to prepare, the risk that there would be classified information that would leak out or be spilled in a way that the State Department couldn’t oversee. We couldn’t have counsel in the office – in the room. I regret that. I wish that these were open and fair and a process that reflected what the American people deserve.
QUESTION: And the administration having to contend with all of the external forces while running into whatever these Intelligence Committee hearings represent, it is – it has to be a difficult distraction. Today, Iran announcing that it is running twice as many centrifuges as would have been permitted under the 2015 agreement, and they continue, according to your department’s report, to fund terrorism – Hizballah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic – Islamist Jihad. Are sanctions really working?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Lou, this is precisely what President Trump confronted when he became president. We had an agreement that frankly allowed Iran to have all the money it needed to conduct this terror campaign that you’re seeing. They were engaged in it during the JCPOA. There were more missiles, more terror activity.
Our efforts have been aimed at three pieces of the puzzle, including the one I think you referred to as our economic sanctions campaign. Look, it’s denied them resources. Hizballah has fewer resources. Some of the Shia militias have fewer resources. The Islamic leaders in Iran are having to make more difficult decisions about their budget. You have to remember we’ve only been at this now full-throated since May of this year, so now, goodness, five months, six months. They’re having a real impact. We need to continue to press. And we need the world to recognize that this is a regime that is still the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and presents a real threat.
QUESTION: Are your European allies really fulfilling their obligations as you see it, as the administration sees it, to enforce these sanctions?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we’ve had a different view than the Europeans, as the E3, since I became the Secretary of State. But it is the case they recently – I think the Europeans have come to see that the Iranians are moving in the wrong direction. You referred to what they’re doing with fissile material, their uranium enrichment. I think the Europeans will come to see this for what it is: a regime that is intent on using nuclear – nuclear material to blackmail, to try and extort money from Europe or from the West. I know that they’re concerned about it. I hope they’ll join us in our campaign.
QUESTION: And very quickly, let me touch upon the announcement that, as the President and you have announced, the United States withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and, as is required, giving the one-year notice making it formal that the United States will be exiting. Is that going according to plan?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It is. The President made a decision a little while back that we would leave the Paris Climate Accords for the simple reason that it was America that would suffer the straitjacket. It was American jobs that would be lost. It would be quintessentially unfair to the American people and to the American workers. Today was the first day that we could file the document that we did today, and 12 months on we will withdraw formally.
QUESTION: Now let’s turn to China. You made a very important speech last week in which – and if we may, let’s put up the line that I think is fundamental here, when you said, “It’s no longer realistic to ignore the fundamental difference between our two systems,” – the PRC, communist; the United States, a free nation. And here we are. It is extraordinary that we’re still undergoing cyberattacks. They continue to steal intellectual property. The list goes on. You know it better than anyone. It’s stunning stuff as we try to create a meaningful, albeit reduced-scope, trade agreement.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. Lou, I think that’s right. Thanks for the kind words on the remarks. I felt like they were important because we need to make sure the world understands the risk that’s presented from the Chinese Communist Party and the ramifications for what, frankly, we all just let go for too long. The good news is that President Trump has recognized this threat, and we’re taking it head on.
Look, I hope there’s a good phase one deal. I hope it makes sense for both countries. I hope we can proceed down that path. I know the President wants that. And where we can find places to cooperate, we should. But you listed just a handful – whether it’s what’s taking place in Xinjiang, whether it’s their forced technology transfer or their cyberattacks or the work in the South China Sea that poses risks to countries all throughout Asia, those are serious risks, and President Trump takes them seriously. We need the world to join us in that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we thank you very much for your time. Always good to be with you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, Lou. Have a good evening, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.