Interview With Steve and Ted in the Morning of KNSS Radio

Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
Via Teleconference
December 20, 2018

QUESTION: Hey, as promised, let us now welcome at this time U.S. Secretary of State, former Kansas congressman, Mike Pompeo. Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Ted, it’s great to be with you. How you been?

QUESTION: Just fine. And we certainly are able to keep track of you these days. You are front and center. This is – could you please, first of all, update us on what’s happening between the U.S. and North Korea these days?

SECRETARY POMPEO: You bet. So, Ted, first of all, thanks for giving me a few minutes to come back on the show. I have great memories of doing this when I was a member of Congress. And now I got this privilege where I get to represent the United States as its senior diplomat in places like North Korea. And we have – we still are working through the execution of Chairman Kim’s commitment to denuclearize. I’ve traveled there now, oh goodness, three or four times. We’ll continue to have meetings, and we are hopeful that in the new year President Trump and Chairman Kim will get together not too long after the first of the year and make even further progress on taking this threat to the United States away from us.

QUESTION: In a better situation with them than we were a year ago, obviously?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Undoubtedly. No more missiles being tested, no more nuclear testing. We’re in a better place today.

QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit about your working relationship with the President, how often you have contact with him and the way that ebbs and flows between your department and his?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Sure. So I’ve been working for the President now for two years, first as the CIA director, now as the Secretary of State. And I talk to the President certainly every day. Oftentimes I see him more than once a day. We’re in frequent communication for – so that the State Department can execute America’s diplomatic mission around the world.

I met him really for the first time when he asked me to come interview to be the CIA director, and we’ve built a good working relationship since that day forward.

QUESTION: We’re talking with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Could you please characterize how things are going now with Iran?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President took a very different approach with respect to Iran than President Obama had. We understand it to be the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and truly a threat throughout the world through its proxy forces. And so we have begun a pressure campaign that has made clear to the Iranian people it’s not acceptable to commit assassination efforts in Europe, it’s not acceptable to continue to threaten Israel. Those are things that the previous administration had taken a very different approach, and we have put real pressure on Iran to change its behavior, and we’re working diligently to make sure that that happens in 2019.

QUESTION: Talking with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I’m going to ask a two-sided question: What is the best thing about your job as Secretary of State? And on the other side, what is the most challenging thing you have to deal with day after day?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the second one’s easy. The biggest challenge is it is a complicated world. There remain actors all across the globe who want to take down America, the greatest nation in the history of civilization. They are determined to do so, and we need to be sure that we’re doing all that we can to prevent that so Americans can live their lives in safety and economic prosperity flows to our nation.

The best thing about the job is I literally get to go out around the world and meet with leaders and represent the United States of America. It is an enormous privilege. I get to tell them about Kansas and who I am and my background, to talk about why that set of values that America has is good for their country to be a partner with the United States.

QUESTION: Is there anything on the horizon coming up in 2019 that we really need to have our antenna up about?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we all need to watch the threat that China poses to the United States over the long term. We see that Kansas businesses see it, where the Chinese misappropriate our property, steal our intellectual property. This is a real risk to the aviation industry that’s so important. It’s a challenge for our farmers to sell their products into China. Those are big, important issues, and things that matter to people in the heartland, and President Trump is committed to making those situations better for the American people.

QUESTION: All right. How do – would you characterize our relationship with China right now?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s a challenge. And we are working across multiple vectors, multiple ways to think about how we convince the Chinese to be – accept our products, allow us to sell products there, and stop stealing our stuff. It’s really pretty straightforward.

QUESTION: Has your life – your life has certainly taken a dramatic change over the course of the past year or two. Is it – do you enjoy the things you’re doing, and is it worthwhile for you? I think I know the answer.

SECRETARY POMPEO: It is, Ted. It’s been an incredible privilege. But I – I haven’t lost everything. I see that Ron Baker signed last night with the NBA team that is in the town that I live in now, and I can’t wait to go watch him play.

QUESTION: I think that’s a win-win for everybody.

SECRETARY POMPEO: It is; it’s good news.

QUESTION: Do you --

SECRETARY POMPEO: And I saw the Shocks play last night; I saw the second half. Good on them.

QUESTION: Do you help Ron with tickets, or does he hook you up with tickets? How does that work?

SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) I think if I said he helped me with tickets I would be committing a felony. So we’ll figure out how to make it work. We’ll – Susan and I will get a chance to go see him play before too long, I hope.

QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we appreciate your time and we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. Thanks for spending time with us here on KNSS.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Ted, thank you. Bless you. Have a Merry Christmas.

QUESTION: You as well. Thank you very much.