Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on the line with me. Secretary, great to have you on. We have a very limited amount of time and a lot to get to. It’s a pleasure to have you on the program.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks, Alex.
QUESTION: I had two quick – two quick and temporary items, and then I want to get your big picture thoughts on four years of Trump and where we’re at. But this huge story of Russian hackers in the U.S. Government agencies, is there anything you could share about this? Because this is just sort of breaking out since last night in a kind of fog of war at the moment, but anything we need to know about this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I can’t say much other than it’s been a consistent effort of the Russians to try and get into American servers, not only those of government agencies but of businesses. We see this even more strongly from the Chinese Communist Party, from the North Koreans as well. It’s an ongoing battle, an ongoing struggle to keep our systems safe, and I’m very confident the United States Government will keep our classified information out of the hands of these bad actors.
QUESTION: One of the topics of conversation today on the broadcast has been this story that came out of The Australian of 1.95 million Chinese Communist members who have infiltrated companies really around the world and also government agencies. Did you get a look at this one and do you have any reaction to it and what it means?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we’ve seen this everywhere, and President Trump’s been the first president of the United States, and frankly, one of the first global leaders to identify this challenge from the Chinese Communist Party. I spoke about this in the context of our educational institutions at Georgia Tech last week, where they have infiltrated our schools and they spend money on research projects and so co-opt our institutions that are higher learning and research. They now infiltrate – we’ve seen this – into our government, into our businesses. President Trump called this out. We’ve begun to push back against it; there’s a lot more work to do. But make no mistake: The Chinese Communist Party presents the single greatest threat to the United States of America of our times.
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. And we have a write-up of this speech by Kristina Wong of Breitbart that people can check out. I’ll try to link it up later. But it’s a – you talked about how the Chinese Communist Party is positioning themselves in our higher education system. We talk about how the left has made this long march through the institutions and how effective that’s been in converting Americans to leftism. The Chinese are trying the exact same thing right now. How bad is it? What do we need to know?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s a good point to connect those two. The ideas that the left has are antithetical to what’s going on, right, so the left says we want safe spaces because we’re afraid of information. The Chinese are looking for safe spaces to go steal information. It’s just the converse.
But we know this too: The Chinese Communist Party – there are some Chinese students who are here. They’re fine. They just want to come here and study. The Chinese Communist Party attacks them, and we haven’t seen anybody on the left push back against this and take this threat seriously.
And so whether it’s the Chinese Communist Party running influence operations against members of Congress or governors – I spoke about that at the National Governors Association back in February of this year – this is a determined, long-term, committed effort from General Secretary Xi Jinping. And President Trump has been the first one to say enough and begun to push back against it by doing things like closing the Chinese consulate in Houston now a few months back.
QUESTION: We had a caller who suggested that there should be some sort of a military action that takes place. I’m very – I don’t think that’s very likely to take place, partially because I do feel like we need to build up some national wherewithal to deal with China. I feel like we’re still even just addicted to Chinese products. We can’t help ourselves from buying Chinese goods online. I mean, where do things start in terms of striving to push back on a national level to this infiltration?
SECRETARY POMPEO: You nailed it. For 50 years, Republicans and Democrats alike were asleep while the Chinese Communist Party began to move in. They moved in through running state-owned enterprises and stealing our intellectual property, denying tens of millions of American jobs. They moved into our institutions of higher learning. We’ve talked about that a bit. We’ve seen the kinds of things they do to break their promises around the world. They said they wouldn’t – they told Barack Obama – President Obama – that they wouldn’t arm the islands in the South China Sea. They immediately did so.
So this is something that President Trump has taken on in every one of these theaters. We’ve built our military – we’ve built our military strength. President Trump said enough and put tariffs on their products because they weren’t treating us in a way that was fair and reciprocal with respect to trade. This battle, this challenge will have to be confronted in every domain, whether it’s an economic domain, diplomatic domain, or making sure that we have the military capabilities to do what America needs to do to defend and protect itself. And President Trump has put the resources against the problem in ways that no president before him has ever done.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is with me. Secretary, we’ve got maybe about two and a half minutes left, and I want to talk about the President’s legacy thus far. We all hope he pulls a rabbit out of his hat, but assuming he doesn’t, it’s really important to look back on the last four years. And let’s start with the Middle East. His record of the Middle East is just so sterling of the way that ISIS has receded, the moving of the embassy, and the normalizing of Israel to so many places that wouldn’t normalize it. But you speak to us as a huge part of this foreign policy.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, look, I appreciate you mentioning the defeat of the caliphate, the total destruction. Remember, there were people in cages being burned and heads being cut off when we took office. That seems to have receded from people’s minds. That was an important component of the President’s overall plan with respect to peace and stability in the Middle East. And you have seen the fruits of that in the last handful of months, where nations all across the Middle East are beginning to recognize that Israel is a partner, a friend, it is a proper and appropriate Jewish homeland, that the rightful capital is in Jerusalem. And now they are beginning to recognize this via the Abraham Accords. It’s glorious.
It matters a lot to America and American national security, but it will reduce risk all around the world from middle – from Islamic extremism throughout the Middle East as well. It is a glorious record. The Islamic Republic of Iran is far weaker today than it was when he took office. And those are things that the American people can be proud of because they will protect prosperity and security here in the United States.
QUESTION: What’s your biggest fear for the United States for the next four years when it comes to international relations?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll – I haven’t really given too much thought to it. I know this: The work that we’ve done – we talked about China, we’ve now talked about the Middle East and Iran – the work that we’ve done with respect to Venezuela and Cuba to maintain our efforts to prevent them from falling further down the socialist hole, and to say that we are not going to permit the kinds of activities that Maduro and the Cuban regime are taking, have been incredibly important for the Western Hemisphere as well. Those efforts have not yet borne the ultimate fruit, but I’m very confident that if we continue the policies that President Trump has laid down with respect to Venezuela and Cuba, Americans will be safer.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, I wish we had more time. Come back whenever you like, sir.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll do that, Alex. Thank you, sir. Have a good morning.
QUESTION: Thank you.