Interview With Sean Hannity of Fox News

Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
Via Teleconference
January 30, 2019

QUESTION: All right, so much happening around the globe. Joining us now is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, always good to see you and thank you for joining us.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Good to be with you. Thank you, Sean. Thanks for having me on tonight.

QUESTION: All right, let’s – we – here’s Venezuela, with one of the largest oil reserves in the world, 80 percent hyperinflation, poverty, bare necessities, chaos, two presidents at once, if you will. What’s the situation? And obviously your position, the President’s position is very important here.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the President had a chance actually to speak with interim President Guaido today. The quest for freedom is on. The Venezuelan people have made very, very clear that their constitution demands that Maduro not be the president of the United States[1], and the United States is prepared to support the Venezuelan people to achieve the freedom, democracy – you talked about it. This is a once wealthy nation with enormous natural resources, and yet we have a humanitarian crisis, we’ve had 3 million refugees leave Venezuela. This is a catastrophe, a man-made catastrophe by the Maduro regime, and we’re intent upon helping the Venezuelan people correct it.

QUESTION: There’s been a lot of talk about a second summit with Kim Jong-un. It’s pretty amazing to me the progress there, because no more rockets. It was happening on a regular basis, being fired over Japan, threatening the entire region, even threatening the United States. Hostages have been returned. The remains of American soldiers have been returned, and denuclearization talks continue. What is the status now of where those negotiations are and when do you foresee another summit?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So Sean, I think we’ll have a summit at the end of the month. That’s the plan. That’s what the North Koreans have now agreed to. It’s what we’ve agreed to with them as well. We’ll do it someplace in Asia. So I think that looks good. I am dispatching a team. They’re headed that way now to lay the foundations for what I hope will be a substantial additional step towards the path for not only denuclearization of the peninsula, but a brighter future for the North Korean people and security on the peninsula in a way that no previous administration’s been able to achieve.

I think it took President Trump to convince Chairman Kim that – all the commitments that he made this past June in Singapore. Now it’s time for my team and all of the United States Government to work with the North Koreans to execute that and to deliver on our commitment to denuclearize that peninsula. Chairman Kim has told us he’s prepared to do it, and now the mission is to deliver on that.

QUESTION: As the former director of the CIA, I would argue – and you know a lot more than me – that intelligence gathering is probably more of an art than necessarily a science, although some things are certain. As relates to intelligence, interpretations of Iranian capabilities, you have the President, you have Prime Minister Netanyahu maybe disagreeing with some of the intelligence reports. I would chalk that up to maybe interpretation, but I’m guessing. What do you say?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I think that’s right. I don’t think there’s much dispute, and having had the chance to be the director of the CIA, I think the intelligence supports that Iran presents a real risk and that they have the capability to enrich nuclear material, fissile material. They have increasing capacities and continue to work towards improving their missile program. Just – guess it was just last week, Sean, that they attempted to launch a space launch vehicle, which certainly would help them deliver on their missile program. These are all components that lead us to a place where they could one day have a system that threatens America, and President Trump has made clear we’re not going to tolerate that. We’re not going to let Iran end up where North Korea is today, and we have a set of policies in place to prevent that.

QUESTION: Last question is about Syria, Afghanistan, American troops. The President wants to pull back on troops. We only have about 2,000 in my understanding in Syria. Some members of Congress, some members in the Senate have disagreement. Is there a solution, and what is the real status of ISIS? Is it degraded to the point where it’s not anywhere near the threat it once was?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, the President will make a significant announcement, I think, in the State of the Union next week with respect to the status of the caliphate, the real estate, the grounds from which ISIS had been operating in Syria when this administration came in. You remember prisoners in cages, people kneeling on the beaches and being beheaded. This was tragic.

We also know that in spite of the enormous progress we’ve made and the success that we’ve had, that the threat from radical Islamic terrorism is real and we need to continue to do all that we can to make sure that there’s not a resurgence of ISIS or that all the other variants of that terror regime continue to be under pressure. This administration is committed to that. President Trump has made clear it is a priority for him, and as the Secretary of State, I can promise the American people we will continue to do all that we can to keep them safe from this threat.

QUESTION: One thing I always remembered in the 9/11 report, commission report, they were at war with us, we weren’t at war with them, and we know that those radicals are out there and what their goals are. Mr. Secretary, thanks for spending the time with us. We appreciate it.

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[1] Venezuela