January 25, 2022


News Network

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Briefing with the Traveling Press

14 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

En Route to Shannon, Ireland

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Greetings, everyone.


SECRETARY POMPEO:  How are you all?


SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, that was a – I thought it was a great trip.  We accomplished just about everything we were hoping to do.  We were back in Europe leading from the front this time, talking about staying connected, making sure they lean into their connections to the West.  We all know we have these shared values.

We have watched whether it’s a ship we’re going to port in Greece or the religious freedom effort or the conversations we had about the risks of the Chinese Communist Party – I think in every place that I went, if you compare it to where we were three and a half years ago, I think we have deeper, stronger, better set of relationships and increased economic ties too.  So I’m happy with what we accomplished, and I’m looking forward to getting back home too.  So I’m happy to take a handful of questions.

QUESTION:  You called back to Washington after your meetings today.  What did they tell you and are you proceeding with your trip this weekend to Florida as well as Asia?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I spoke to the Vice President just a little bit ago.  He’s fine.  He’s engaged.  We’re still planning on making the trips, but we’re going to take a look at them.  We’ll see which one – see which or some parts of those trips make sense and which may not, and we’ll continue to on an hour-by-hour basis take a look at it.

But it’s no different than any other time.  We’re always – I always try to make – keep everybody safe in everything that we do.  And if we can’t – if have to postpone a trip or cancel something, we’ll figure out how to get it back on the schedule.  But I’m hopeful we can at least make sure we get to Asia for sure – some important things, but we’ll see.  If the medical situation doesn’t permit it, we won’t do that.  We won’t put anybody at risk.

MR BROWN:  All right.  Tracy.

QUESTION:  Oh, you’re calling on me.


QUESTION:  Well, so you’ve talked about sharing the values – getting them to lean into the West, et cetera – but it sounded like the prime minister of Croatia was talking a lot about China.  He wasn’t exactly rejecting China.  So how did you feel that that message is getting through to him?  He mentioned that both Greece and Croatia were part of the China Plus.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Just go look at what the European countries are saying today compared to what they were saying two and a half years ago, and then go look at their actions.  It’s not remotely close.  The tide has turned.  Everyone understands this threat.  This isn’t about United States versus China.  It’s about tyranny.

The Chinese Government unleashed a virus on the world.  We see the impacts of today.  You all are standing here wearing masks because they decided that they were going to let people travel out of Wuhan when they knew – and they disappeared doctors.  You all know the story too well, right?  They deceived the world and they covered up.  And you’re all wearing masks as a direct result of what the Chinese Communist Party did.

And so they all get it.  This is about freedom.  This is about liberty.  They know the threat.  They know the risk.  You’ve seen the changes in what the United Kingdom is doing with their 5G network.  I’m confident that many more European countries now, frankly because of just sharing information with them, they’re going to make their own sovereign decision that says no, we don’t want our citizens’ data in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.  I think every European country now understands this, is increasingly aware of it.  And you’ll see them start to take actions consistent with that, including in Croatia.

MR BROWN:  All right.  Carol.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, today is the second anniversary of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.  Will the world ever know who ordered and orchestrated his killing?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I’m sorry (inaudible).

QUESTION:    Will the world ever know who ordered and orchestrated his killing?  And maybe you can give us an idea of what’s it like being a diplomat —


QUESTION:  Maybe you can give us an idea of what it’s like doing diplomacy, being a diplomat in a time of COVID.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Oh, goodness.  With respect to the Khashoggi murder, I don’t have much to update.  The Saudis have now prosecuted a handful of folks.  We continue to press them to make sure we get as much as we can, that everyone who was responsible be held accountable.  There’s not much of an update from where we were two months or four months ago.

It’s been a little harder to travel around the world as a diplomat and see people.  It always matters how you can have private conversations that are harder to have on the phone, but at the same time, we’ve all adapted just as your businesses have – just – excuse me – just as every company and every family has had to do.  It’s given us an opportunity to evaluate too our systems and processes inside the State Department.  We’ll be leaner and better and more efficient than we were when we came into this.  I’m confident.

And then I think too – I think this has shown the face of the Chinese Communist Party and the risk that happened when authoritarian regimes that are designed for the purposes of hiding information around the world – I think the world can now see the impact and the risks associated with that.  And I think the private sector has seen these risks too.  And you’ll watch their decisions in the coming weeks and months about how they’re thinking about their investments inside of China.

MR BROWN:  All right.  Lara.

QUESTION:  I wanted to follow up on Tracy’s question and Abbie’s at the press conference.  Given this – how often you – given how often you’ve been traveling to the region in recent days and in recent weeks, I’m just wondering what the grander strategy is, and I’m wondering if there is some kind of move or thought to work more often with Eastern and Southern European partners that, as you have said, have not been – engages with the United States in prior administrations, as opposed to more traditional allies like the EU – I’m sorry, Britain as it Brexits, Germany, France.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  Yeah.  It’s not either-or.  I just happen to be heading to these places.  I spend a fair amount of time in Germany.  I spend a lot of time in the United Kingdom.  We still count them as great partners as well.  NATO is – obviously encompasses all of those nations.  And there will be $400 billion more inside of NATO as a result of President Trump’s actions.  That’s powerful – $400 billion, more secure, a stronger NATO.  I know you all write all the time how President Trump is destroying NATO.  NATO’s stronger today.

QUESTION:  But can you talk about —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Infinitely stronger.

QUESTION:  Can you talk about the grand – is there a grander strategy for this region that you’ve been traveling to so much?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  Look, it’s very important.  You see what’s happened in the Eastern Mediterranean, you see these energy issues that we’ve been working on for three and a half years now.  You start to see – whether it’s Krk Island, you see what’s happened in northern Greece.  You start to see these energy projects.  This will make Russia weaker, it will diversify the energy.  We do that alongside the work we’re doing against Nord Stream 2.  It will make Europe stronger as well.  And that’s not just Southern Europe; that’ll also flow into Central Europe, these pipelines and the liquid natural gas that’ll move – will move all across Europe.  This will make Europe a healthier, stronger, more economically prosperous place.

So I just happened to travel this – these last two trips, I was in Cyprus, then Greece, Italy, and then on to Croatia.  Just happened to be traveling in the southern part of the region.  They’re all important because of big – two big economies in France and Germany, the United Kingdom now moving its way through exiting the European Union.  These are (inaudible), just as close to them as we ever were and continue to work to build on their security as well.

MR BROWN:  Last one.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming back.  I saw a report – I believe it was French President Macron who said that fighters in Syria moved through southern Turkey into Azerbaijan and that Azerbaijan instigated this conflict there.  Why would Erdogan do that or allow that to happen, especially at this time when tensions were easing in the Eastern Med?  And is there any risk, do you think, of Turkey colliding with Russia in that space?  That’s – they’ve certainly got relationships on both sides.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So I’ve seen the reporting.  You’re referring to the reporting that said that he brought Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan.  I’ve seen that reporting too.  That’s all I can really say at this point.  I hope it’s not the case, right.  We saw Syrian fighters taken from the battlefields in Syria to Libya.  That created more instability, more turbulence, more conflict, more fighting, less peace.  I think it would do the same thing in the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh as well.  So I hope that reporting proves inaccurate.

You’ll have to ask President Erdogan why he would make that decision, but our view has been pretty consistent.  When there’s – when there are rubs, when there are political ethnic tensions and they rise – this is a longstanding conflict in this border space – when those tensions rise, internationalizing this – right – third parties bringing ammunitions, weapon systems, even just advisors and allies joining, you increase the complexity, you increase the risk of loss of lives, you decrease the capacity for peace.

So we’ve urged – just like we have in Libya, we’ve urged everyone to just stay out of this other than to urge that there be a ceasefire and that dialogue be the methodology by which order is restored, peace is restored.  At least we hope that’s the case.  We’ve certainly communicated that to both the Azerbaijanis and Armenian leaders, and to the Turks as well.  I read the message that came out of the EU, and the prime minister in Croatia told me the same thing.  That was the message that the European Union had for the Turks in their meeting yesterday – I guess it was yesterday and this morning as well.

MR BROWN:  Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  All right.  Thanks, everybody.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

QUESTION:  Thank you, sir.

News Network

  • Florida Tire Importer Pleads Guilty in Tax Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A Miami, Florida, tire importer pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the government, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida.  
    [Read More…]
  • Leader of ‘Atomwaffen’ Conspiracy Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Threatening Journalists and Advocates
    In Crime News
    Cameron Shea, 25, a leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to three years in prison for federal conspiracy and hate crime charges for threatening journalists and advocates who worked to expose anti-Semitism, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said, “This conduct cannot be tolerated. This kind of conduct has consequences…It is so serious that it requires a serious sentence.”
    [Read More…]
  • Estonia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Defense attorney convicted
    In Justice News
    A 48-year-old resident [Read More…]
  • Local man sentenced for possession of $5 million in meth
    In Justice News
    A 21-year-old Penitas [Read More…]
  • Additional Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Homeland Security
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In August 2021, GAO identified 38 priority recommendations for the Department of Homeland Security. GAO is now adding two recommendations related to domestic intelligence and information sharing, bringing the total number of priority recommendations to 40. These additional two recommendations are from GAO's August 2021 report on DHS's special event designations as related to the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. DHS's continued attention to the issues addressed in these 40 recommendations could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Charles Michael Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-8777 or johnsoncm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • South Texan convicted of gun and drug possession
    In Justice News
    35-year-old Edinburg man [Read More…]
  • VA Vet Centers: Evaluations Needed of Expectations for Counselor Productivity and Centers’ Staffing
    In U.S GAO News
    The Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS) provides counseling through 300 Vet Centers, which can be found in community settings and are separate from other VHA facilities. RCS has set expectations for counselor productivity at Vet Centers. For example, one expectation is for counselors to achieve an average of 1.5 visits for each hour they provide direct services. However, RCS officials told GAO that they have not conducted, and do not have plans to conduct, an evaluation of the expectations. VA Vet Center Productivity Expectations for Counselors Although most counselors met the productivity expectations in fiscal year 2019, counselors GAO spoke with said the expectations led them to change work practices in ways that could negatively affect client care. For example, counselors at one Vet Center told GAO that, to meet productivity expectations, they spend less time with each client to fit more clients into their schedules. Without an evaluation of its productivity expectations, RCS lacks reasonable assurance that it is identifying any unintended or potentially negative effects of the expectations on counselor practices and client care. RCS officials told GAO that by the start of fiscal year 2021 they plan to implement a staffing model to identify criteria for determining staffing needs at Vet Centers. The model incorporates data on counselors' productivity (work hours and number of visits), and total clients to determine criteria for adding or removing a counselor position from a Vet Center. However, the model does not fully address key practices in staffing model design GAO identified in previous work. For example, the model does not include the input of Vet Center counselors, or client data associated with directors, who also provide counseling. As a result, RCS is at risk of making decisions about Vet Center staffing that may not be responsive to changing client needs. Shortages of mental health staff within VHA coupled with the increasing veteran demand for mental health services highlight the critical importance of ensuring appropriate Vet Center staffing. VHA's RCS provided counseling (individual, group, marriage, and family) and outreach services through Vet Centers to more than 300,000 veterans and their families in fiscal year 2019. In 2017, RCS implemented changes to expectations that it uses to assess Vet Center counselor productivity, setting expectations for counselors' percentage of time with clients and number of client visits. GAO was asked to review Vet Center productivity expectations for counselors and staffing. Among other issues, this report examines the extent to which VHA (1) evaluates its productivity expectations; and (2) assesses Vet Centers' staffing needs. To do this work, GAO reviewed RCS documentation regarding counselors' productivity expectations and analyzed RCS data on counselor productivity expectations and staffing, for fiscal year 2019. GAO interviewed RCS leadership, including district directors, and directors and counselors from 12 Vet Centers, selected for variation in geographic location and total number of clients, among other factors. GAO is making four recommendations, including that VHA (1) evaluate Vet Center productivity expectations for counselors; and (2) develop and implement a staffing model that incorporates key practices. The Department of Veterans Affairs concurred with GAO's recommendations and identified actions VHA is taking to implement them. For more information, contact Debra A. Draper at (202) 512-7114 or draperd@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Former CIA Officer Arrested and Charged with Espionage
    In Crime News
    Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, 67, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, was arrested on Aug. 14, 2020, on a charge that he conspired with a relative of his who also was a former CIA officer to communicate classified information up to the Top Secret level to intelligence officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Criminal Complaint containing the charge was unsealed this morning.
    [Read More…]
  • [Request for Reconsideration of Protest of DCSC Solicitation for Hydraulic Motor Race Assemblies]
    In U.S GAO News
    A firm requested reconsideration of its denied protest of a Defense Construction Supply Center (DCSC) solicitation for hydraulic motor race assemblies. GAO had held that the protester: (1) had an adequate opportunity to qualify its product, since it knew of the qualification requirements at least 2 years prior to the procurement; and (2) never submitted any items for testing or made any deliveries under its previous contract. In its request for reconsideration, the protester reiterated arguments raised during its original protest and contended that GAO failed to address its assertions that: (1) the two named manufacturers were not properly qualified sources; (2) DCSC failed to revalidate its qualification requirements; and (3) one manufacturer had an organizational conflict of interest. GAO held that the protester: (1) failed to provide any evidence that warranted reversal of the original decision; (2) should have raised the revalidation issue during its original protest; and (3) merely anticipated improper DCSC action regarding the manufacturer's alleged conflict of interest. Accordingly, the request for reconsideration was denied.
    [Read More…]
  • Welcoming Costa Rica to the OECD
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Defense Logistics: The Army Needs to Implement an Effective Management and Oversight Plan for the Equipment Maintenance Contract in Kuwait
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on contractors to perform many of the functions needed to support troops in deployed locations. For example, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait the Army uses contractors to provide logistics support for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Contractors at Camp Arifjan refurbish and repair a variety of military vehicles such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, armored personnel carriers, and the High-Mobility, Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). However, while contractors provide valuable support to deployed forces, we have frequently reported that long-standing DOD contract management and oversight problems increase the opportunity for waste and make it more difficult for DOD to ensure that contractors are meeting contract requirements efficiently, effectively, and at a reasonable price. This report discusses information about Task Order 1 that we developed during our review. Our objectives were to (1) evaluate the contractor's performance of maintenance and supply services under Task Order 1, (2) determine the extent to which the Army's quality assurance and contract management activities implement key principles of quality assurance and contract management regulations and guidance, and (3) determine the extent to which the Army is adequately staffed to perform oversight activities.Our analysis indicates that the Army is inadequately staffed to conduct oversight of Task Order 1. Authorized oversight personnel positions vacant at the time of our visit in April 2007 included those of a quality assurance specialist, a property administrator, and two quality assurance inspectors. The contracting officer told us that the two civilian positions (the quality assurance specialist and the property administrator) had been advertised but the command had not been able to fill the positions with qualified candidates. The battalion was unsure why the two military positions (the quality assurance inspectors) had not been filled. The lack of an adequate contract oversight staff is not unique to this location. We have previously reported on the inadequate number of contract oversight personnel throughout DOD, including at deployed locations. Army officials also told us that in addition to the two quality assurance inspectors needed to fill the vacant positions, additional quality assurance inspectors were needed to fully meet the oversight mission. According to battalion officials, vacant and reduced inspector and analyst positions mean that surveillance is not being performed sufficiently in some areas and the Army is less able to perform data analyses, identify trends in contractor performance, and improve quality processes. Also, the Army is considering moving major elements of option year 3 (including maintenance and supply services) to a cost plus award-fee structure beginning January 1, 2008. Administration for cost plus award-fee contracts involves substantially more effort over the life of a contract than for fixed-fee contracts. Without adequate staff to monitor and accurately document contractor performance, analyze data gathered, and provide input to the award-fee board, it will be difficult for the Army to effectively administer a cost plus award-fee contract beginning in January 2008.
    [Read More…]
  • Man Sentenced to 97 months in Prison for Role in International Credit Card Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy
    In Crime Control and Security News
    U.S. Attorney’s Office [Read More…]
  • Asteroid 1998 OR2 to Safely Fly Past Earth This Week
    In Space
    The large near-Earth [Read More…]
  • Key Outcomes at the 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Appointment of Ambassador Jean Manes to serve as Chargé d’affaires to the Republic of El Salvador
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Low-Income Workers: Millions of Full-Time Workers in the Private Sector Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    The 12 million wage-earning adults (ages 19 to 64) enrolled in Medicaid—a joint federal-state program that finances health care for low-income individuals—and the 9 million wage-earning adults in households receiving food assistance from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shared a range of common labor characteristics. For example, approximately 70 percent of adult wage earners in both programs worked full-time hours (i.e., 35 hours or more) on a weekly basis and about one-half of them worked full-time hours annually (see figure). In addition, 90 percent of wage-earning adults participating in each program worked in the private sector (compared to 81 percent of nonparticipants) and 72 percent worked in one of five industries, according to GAO’s analysis of program participation data included in the Census Bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey. When compared to adult wage earners not participating in the programs, wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients in the private sector were more likely to work in the leisure and hospitality industry and in food service and food preparation occupations. Estimated Percentage of Wage-Earning Adult Medicaid Enrollees and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Recipients Working at Least 35 Hours per Week, by Number of Weeks Worked in 2018 GAO’s analysis of February 2020 program data from 15 agencies—six Medicaid agencies and nine SNAP agencies—across 11 states shows that a majority of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients in these states worked for private sector employers. GAO’s analysis also shows that the percentage of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients working for any one employer did not exceed 4 percent in any state that provided data. Most working adults in the programs worked for private sector employers concentrated in certain industries, including restaurants, department stores, and grocery stores. Smaller percentages of working adults in each program in these states worked outside the private sector. For example, less than 10 percent worked for public sector employers, such as state governments, the U.S. Postal Service, or public universities; others worked for nonprofit organizations, such as charities, hospitals, and health care networks, or were self-employed. In October 2020, GAO issued a report entitled Federal Social Safety Net Programs Millions of Full-Time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs (GAO-20-45.) This testimony summarizes the findings of that report, which examined (1) what is known about the labor characteristics of wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients, and (2) what is known about where wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients work. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed recent Census Bureau data on the labor characteristics of working adults in the two programs. GAO also analyzed recent (Feb. 2020) non-generalizable data on the employers of working adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients obtained from 15 state agencies across 11 states. GAO selected state agencies that (1) collected, verified, and updated the names of Medicaid enrollees’ and SNAP recipients’ employers; and (2) could extract reliable data. GAO made no recommendations. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or brownbarnesc@gao.gov.  
    [Read More…]
  • California Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime for Attempting to Stab Black Man
    In Crime News
    Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California, and Special Agent in Charge Jack Bennett for the FBI San Francisco Division announced today that a California man has been charged with a federal hate crime for attacking a black man with a knife on a street in Santa Cruz, California.
    [Read More…]
  • Canadian Man Extradited from Spain to Face Charges for Massive Psychic Mail Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Canadian citizen accused of operating a decades-long psychic mail fraud scheme was extradited to the United States and made his initial appearance today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Divestiture of Tufts Health Freedom Plan in Order for Harvard Pilgrim and Health Plan Holdings to Proceed With Merger
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it would require Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (Harvard Pilgrim) and Health Plan Holdings (fka Tufts Health Plan) to divest Tufts Health Freedom Plan Inc. (Tufts Freedom), in order to proceed with their merger. Tufts Freedom is Health Plan Holdings’ commercial health insurance business in New Hampshire. The department has approved UnitedHealth Group Inc. (United), as the buyer. Health insurance is an integral part of the American healthcare system, and the proposed settlement will maintain competition for the sale of commercial health insurance to private employers in New Hampshire with fewer than 100 employees.
    [Read More…]


Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.