Interview With Chris Wallace of Fox News

Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 23, 2018

QUESTION: Meanwhile, there’s another explosive controversy: whether President Trump will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after reports that in May of 2017, Rosenstein was so worried about Mr. Trump’s behavior he discussed wearing a wire to record the President and polling cabinet members about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first top administration official to speak on this when I interviewed him yesterday.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Chris, I’m not going to comment on that in any way, other than to say this: I’ve been pretty clear since my beginning of service here in this administration. If you can’t be on the team, if you’re not supporting this mission, then maybe you just ought to find something else to do. I’ve told that to my senior colleagues, I’ve told it to junior folks at the CIA and the State Department. We need everyone who is engaged in helping achieve President Trump’s mission, and I hope that everyone in every agency – DOJ, FBI, State Department – is on that mission. And if you’re not – if you’re not, you should take this time to go do something more productive.

QUESTION: And I assume that talking about wiring the President, talking about the 25th Amendment, is not being on the team?


QUESTION: We’ll have more of our interview with Pompeo later this hour.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you, Chris.

QUESTION: This week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un talked about dismantling missile test sites, nuclear fuel facilities. President Trump called it very positive: “We had very good news from North Korea, South Korea. They met, and we had some great responses. We’re making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea.” But the North Koreans have not agreed to give up a single missile, a single nuclear weapon, nor are they giving us the inventory of their arsenal. Is that tremendous progress?

SECRETARY POMPEO: You have to step back to where we began this administration, with a well-developed program inside of North Korea. We have now achieved the ceasing of missile testing, the ceasing of nuclear testing, we have gotten the remains of 55 Americans, we’re in deep discussions about how to proceed with respect to denuclearization. President Moon traveled to Pyongyang for the third time this past week and made progress. We’re continuing to make progress.

These are all the right steps forward. It’s the right path. And we’ve made clear to the world that the economic sanctions, the pressure that has caused Chairman Kim to come as far as he has come to date, will remain in effect until denuclearization occurs. And so we’re hard at it. President Trump has given me the task to use our entire diplomatic team to achieve the outcome that the world has demanded through UN Security Council resolutions. We’ll talk a lot about that in the week ahead in New York.

QUESTION: But again, you talked about denuclearization. They haven’t given up a single nuclear weapon or missile or an inventory, and now they’re talking in the meeting, the summit with South Korean President Moon, they talked about, quote, “corresponding measures” such as a treaty to end the Korean War. One, is that on the table? And two, whatever happened to the position of the administration that North Korea has to get rid of all of its arsenal before we give any concessions?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The administration position hasn’t changed one jot from the time we entered this discussion. We are working diligently to achieve many of the outcomes that you describe. We have had extended conversations about this. I don’t want to get into the details of the negotiations that are underway, but we’ve talked about particular facilities, particular weapon systems. Those conversations are underway, and we are hopeful that we can deliver this outcome for the world.

QUESTION: But to get to this point about corresponding measures, you say the position hasn’t changed one bit. Does that mean they have to get rid of their entire nuclear arsenal and missiles before we take – we give concessions, for instance, a peace treaty?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Everybody’s got their own idea of what a concession might be. Some thought it was a concession for President Trump to go to Singapore. I certainly didn’t think so. President Trump doesn’t. But what we’ve made clear is the economic sanctions, the driving force to achieve the outcome we’re looking for, will not be released and the UN Security Council will not reduce those sanctions until such time as we have achieved that final denuclearization.

QUESTION: I want to pick up on that because the South Koreans are already talking about renewing economic relations with South Korea. The Russians and the Chinese are looking the other way. There’s been apparently rampant smuggling of oil, fuel into South Korea. Isn’t the U.S. policy of maximum pressure on North Korea, isn’t that releasing its grip?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Absolutely not. I mean, just I hear, I’ve read what – you should – you should be very careful about everything that you read in the press around the world. The entire UN Security Council remains committed to enforcing the UN Security Council resolutions. I am confident we will renew that and renew the commitments to that in the week ahead. It’s one of the things we’ll talk a great deal about. To a country, every nation has told me personally they remain committed to enforcing the UN Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: Let’s turn to China, where we are on the verge of a major trade war. The U.S. has imposed sanctions or tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports. The Chinese have retaliated. They have just announced they’re pulling out of a new round of trade talks this week. How hard is President Trump prepared to go in this faceoff with China, and for how long?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We know this much: The trade war by China against the United States has been going on for years. Here’s what’s different in this administration: To the extent one wants to call this a trade war, we are determined to win it. I ran a small business in Kansas before I came to Congress. I saw how companies were treated differently when they attempted to do business, whether they were trying to sell goods into China or to purchase goods, to export from China. I watched how American companies were treated unfairly, differently, a different set of rules. If they wanted to invest in my business in Kansas, they could have. Had I wanted to invest in a Chinese supplier there, I couldn’t. These are fundamentally unfair. The American people know that, and President Trump is going to fix it.

QUESTION: When you say he’s – you’re going to win it?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we’re going to win it.

QUESTION: As long as it takes?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re going to win it. We’re going to get an outcome which forces China to behave in a way that if you want to be a power, a global power – transparency, rule of law, you don’t steal intellectual property, the fundamental principles of trade around the world, fairness, reciprocity – those are the things President Trump has told his counterpart there, who he very much likes. Those are the things the American people are demanding and the American workers deserve.

QUESTION: President Trump announced this week that he’s reducing the number of refugees that will be allowed into this country from 45,000 this year to 30,000 next year, which would be the lowest cap since the refugee program began in 1980. Now take, for instance, Syria. There are five million Syrian refugees now in the Middle East. The U.S. has allowed only 60 Syrian refugees into this country this fiscal year, which ends next week. Is that this administration’s idea of compassion?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Chris, this country has been the most generous nation in all of recorded civilization with respect to taking refugees from around the world and admitting people from outside of the United States. It continues to be so under President Trump and will be during our administration.

Let’s talk about the refugees in Syria. The best place for those refugees to go back to would be to their homes. It’s where they want to go. We have provided billions of dollars in aid, in humanitarian aid, all around the world in the Trump administration, and we’ve let in over four million people to our country over the past two decades. This is a generous nation. To focus just on this legal term, refugees, on this notion of refugees, doesn’t encompass the full scope of American generosity.

Second point, President Trump is also committed to making sure that America is secure, and the vetting that’s taking place is important. It reduces risk in the American homeland.

And then finally, the work that we’ve done to get our allies to share this burden. We now have hundreds of million dollars coming in from Gulf states to support Syrian reconstruction and redevelopment, things that never happened. This was good work driven by the President, led by American diplomacy, to get other countries to share the burden of making sure that these refugees are well taken care of.

QUESTION: New subject. This week, the President ordered the release of previously classified documents about the Russia investigation. That release has been delayed, at least temporarily, but he says they show that the Russia probe began as a hoax: “It’s a terrible witch hunt and it’s hurt our country. And the things that have been found over the last couple of weeks about text messages back and forth are a disgrace to our nation.”

You were CIA director until just this May. Did you see any legitimate reason to investigate ties between any Trump associates and the Kremlin? Did you see any legitimate basis to surveil Carter Page?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve consistently said I’m not going to talk about the investigation. I had the role of CIA director, and so I don’t have anything to add to that today.

QUESTION: But can you tell us whether or not it was a hoax or whether there were legitimate national security concerns?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, I’ve been very clear. We have real risk to outside agents trying to do harm to America. There is no mistake about that. There are many countries seeking to meddle in our elections: the Chinese, the Iranians, the North Koreans. And certainly, what the Russians did in 2016 are all clear indications that there are those who want to undermine American democracy. And we have an obligation, both the intelligence community, our military, our diplomats, all of the U.S. Government, to prevent that from ever happening.

QUESTION: Finally, there was an attack on a military parade in Iran this weekend in which at least 24 people were killed, and your Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, blames it on the U.S. Did the U.S. play any role in that attack? And do you have any plans, or does the President have any plans, to meet with Iranian officials this next week at the UN General Assembly?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Let me take your second question first. I don’t know that there are any plans to date. The President has been pretty clear: If there are constructive conversations to be had with the Iranians, the President is happy to have them. He’d be willing to do so.

QUESTION: Even with President Rouhani this week?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the leader of the country is Ayatollah Khamenei. That’s who is running the show in Iran. I think that would be an important and interesting conversation. With respect to --

QUESTION: Wait, I mean, are you just – is that talk, or are you just saying you would like, the President would like, to meet with the Ayatollah?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has said he’ll talk with anyone if we can a constructive conversation. We want Iran to stop being the largest – the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. But make no mistake about it; there is no indication that they have any intent of doing this. Just this past couple weeks, they’ve come after American interests inside of Iraq, in Basra and in Baghdad.

And with respect to the attacks overnight, I saw the comments of Zarif. When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake. And the loss of innocent life is tragic, and I wish Zarif would focus on keeping his own people secure rather than causing insecurity all around the world.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Chris.

QUESTION: Good luck this next week at the UN.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.