Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: Welcome back. This is the Ben Shapiro Show. Well, while the world focuses in on the Electoral College and election 2020, the Trump administration has continued to do good work, particularly overseas. And joining us on the line right now is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Secretary of State, thanks so much for joining the program.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ben, it’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: So let’s talk about another historic peace deal, this time between Israel and Morocco. This makes the fourth country to sign normalization of relations with Israel. Maybe you can talk a little bit about the Abraham Accords, what they actually mean for the future.
SECRETARY POMPEO: The administration made two big decisions at the beginning of its time, Ben. And the first was that we were going to continue to support Israel in its right to defend itself, and so things like recognizing Jerusalem as the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland and the Golan Heights, and saying not all settlements are necessarily illegal. And then second, identifying Iran as the primary destabilizing support – factor in the Middle East.
Those two decisions led to the Gulf states recognizing that being partners, friends, commercial traders, security partners with Israel was the right solution. And so you see these Abraham Accords, where you now have countries all over the Middle East saying we don’t want to just fight Israel, we want to be their friend. That’s the historic change. We saw yesterday the country of Bhutan making a similar decision. We’ve seen Sudan. Countries not only in the Middle East, but in Africa and elsewhere are joining the chorus of nations that recognize that working alongside Israel creates prosperity and security for them, and that is good for the American people and our national security as well.
QUESTION: Now, Secretary of State Pompeo, obviously Democrats have been taking a wildly different tack with regards to the Middle East, and Iran particularly. Joe Biden and every Democrat apparently now says they want to get back into the Iran deal. What sort of steps can you take as Secretary of State to prevent any future administration or future Democratic power center from trying to shift U.S. support back behind one of the worst regimes on planet Earth?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Ben, look, I think the Middle East is very different in 2020 than it was in 2015. I think nations all across the world – we’ve built out a huge coalition that sees that the same way that we do. And so whether it’s the Gulf states or Israel or even European countries who recognize that providing more money to the terror regime in Iran is a bad idea, I think the days of sending pallets of cash over to them and cutting a deal on nuclear weapons that does nothing but provide a path to nuclear capability – I think those days are behind us, and I think the world has come to recognize that denying the regime those resources and funds creates security and prosperity not only for their own countries, but for the United States as well.
So I think – I think we have demonstrated the right foreign policy with respect to Iran, and I am hopeful that the world will continue the policies that we have, and that one day Iran will rejoin the community of nations.
QUESTION: So meanwhile, obviously the Government of China continues to be incredibly aggressive. A data leak apparently shows some 2 million members of the Chinese Communist Party who are embedded at companies all around the globe and governments all around the globe. What do you make of that report about a data leak, and just how dangerous is the Chinese Government in their attempt to infiltrate other countries, both in the private and the public sphere?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve spoken about this very issue a great deal during my time as Secretary of State and when I was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This challenge from the Chinese Communist Party is the most existential threat to the United States and its prosperity and security. President Trump is the first president to have recognized that.
So I spoke to the National Governors Association – oh, goodness, it’s probably been almost a year ago now; I think it was in January – and shared with them that the Chinese Communist Party is watching them, is watching every governor, is watching every city councilperson. We saw that with Congressman Swalwell. They are working to infiltrate, to cozy up to, to draw connections and exert influence in ways that are deep and powerful. And America has now had a leader who is refusing to bend a knee to China and is standing up to them, but there’s an awful lot more work to do, as you can see by the data that’s now coming out.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State Pompeo, what exactly do you think the United States ought to be doing in terms of curbing Chinese influence not just around the globe but also closer to home? Obviously, the people of Hong Kong have now been subjected to incredible predation. We’ve seen international organizations caving routinely to the Chinese Government, whether we’re talking about the United Nations or whether we’re talking about the WHO. What can the U.S. do to sort of mitigate the effects of that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s an enormous undertaking, and it is one that will require enormous determination and persistence by the people of the United States of America. I believe we are up to this task. So you identified international organizations. The State Department has begun to push back in real ways. They had a Chinese candidate for something called the World Intellectual Property Organization. We beat them. We’re competing there in ways we never did before.
I spoke at Georgia Tech last week about Chinese infiltration of our higher education system, right? Students that are there, that are acting as go-betweens, if not spies – researchers who take big grants from the Chinese Communist Party and then allow Chinese scientists to come take their product and the results of the fruit of their work – these are things the United States must push back against. It takes a real leader in the White House to do that. We began this process. We’ve made enormous progress, but there’s going to be a lot of work to do for a long time, Ben.
QUESTION: In the meanwhile, there’s a big story that came out in the last couple of days about the Russian Government being involved in hacking American institutions, including the Commerce Department. Can you give us the latest on that and what sort of measures can we take to combat Russian aggression? Because it seems like, obviously as we near the end of the year, there – our global opponents are becoming more and more I would say aggressive in their pursuit.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, but I’m not sure they’re any more aggressive. I – this is something that’s been consistent. The Russian efforts to use cyber capabilities against us here in the United States is something that’s been consistent certainly for – goodness, I guess I was in Congress six years and now four years in the administration. I have seen this consistently over time, right? They tried to mess with our elections in 2008, 2012, 2016. We frankly did better in 2020 pushing back against them. This is a real challenge. They – we have imposed costs on the Russians. We’ve urged them to cease this kind of malign activity. But they are a real challenge.
And what the President has done, what President Trump has done is he has recognized these challenges. We were in a – Ben, we were in a post-9/11 posture, where our primary focus was fighting terrorism. We’ve taken that challenge on, too. But we’ve also refocused America’s national security apparatus, knowing that prosperity depends on our capacity to push back against these great powers like China, and we’ve done just that.
QUESTION: And when we talk about Russia, obviously there are new details emerging in the attempt to kill the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. And now new information suggests that when he was exposed to a highly toxic nerve agent that there were Russian agents nearby. What’s been the American Government’s response to that new information?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we haven’t done anything with respect to the new information yet, other than begin to evaluate what we know. But suffice it to say, we recognize and were among the first to call out this unbelievably malign activity and demanded that the Russians explain to us precisely how this happened, who did it. We are still waiting on those answers. But we, frankly, along with our European partners, who have been good on this too, have begun to impose real costs on the Russians for this kind of activity.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, final question for you. Obviously, Joe Biden has been talking about putting together a foreign policy team. They look like members of the blob. It’s all the same people who staffed the Obama administration; it’s people ranging from Jake Sullivan to Tony Blinken, all people who have sort of a 2010 view of foreign policy. How malign would that influence be in terms of American foreign policy?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, look, I’ll say this: It’s the same people who executed the foreign policy that was here when President Trump took office, and you saw how we responded. We fundamentally shifted to an idea that said we’re going to take care of America first, we’re going to get this right. We’re happy to work with our friends and partners, but when we get it right for America, when we are realistic about what we can do and the things that we can’t do, when we’re realistic about those things we can be a force for good in the world. And so I hope that many of the things that President Trump has undertaken will be evaluated, reviewed, and that many of those policies will be continued.
I know who these folks are. I know what they did for eight years. They are, in fact, the same players. I am hopeful they will come to share my view that the world is a very different one today than it was when they left office four years ago.
QUESTION: That is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I really appreciate your time and your service, sir.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ben, thank you, sir. Have a good day.