Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: Welcome back, America. It’s Hugh Hewitt joined by the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, Hugh. Great to be with you today.
QUESTION: We have great news as we begin this segment. Gilead Sciences, a U.S. company, has just announced that remdesivir – it will be available to any hospitalized patient in the U.S. and they expect to be able to satisfy global demand by the end of October. So the United States is leading the way, Mr. Secretary, on this pandemic.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’ve been working on multiple fronts to make sure that the entire world has access, and importantly, the American people have access to the world’s best health care. The President has authorized enormous investments in multiple vaccine efforts, therapeutics all along the way. It’s good work. We’re starting to see the results of that in – absolutely in record time. No one believed that this could happen, and we’re now seeing the fruits of all this good work that the President directed many, many months ago.
QUESTION: Now, at the same time that the U.S. is leading internationally and nationally the anti-virus response, the image of China, according to Pew Research, has plummeted. A new 14-country Pew Research Center survey shows that a majority in each of the surveyed countries has an unfavorable opinion of China. Do you believe, Mr. Secretary, that the world has the number of the Chinese Communist Party? They were responsible for this nightmare. They hid it. They covered it up. They still cover it up.
SECRETARY POMPEO: The tide has turned in terms of what the world has now actually had the chance to see. They’ve seen the facts and the data. They’ve seen that the Chinese Communist Party had the one opportunity to be candid, be clear, be transparent, to put this virus in a place where the whole world could attack it simultaneously.
Instead, Hugh – I think we’ve talked about this before, right? – they disappeared journalists, they hid doctors who knew the truth, they covered up, they allowed people to transit out of Wuhan when they knew better. These are the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do. The whole world can now see it. And as the President has said, the Chinese Communist Party will pay a price for this malfeasance.
QUESTION: They have also now arrested, again, Jimmy Lai, who is a Hong Kong dissident, a devout Roman Catholic. He did a great video with my friend Fran Maier of the Napa Institute. Will America speak up for Jimmy Lai and everyone like Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong who is being oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’ve met with Jimmy and we’ve spoken about his remarkable work. The tragedy of what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to the people of Hong Kong is also a factor, I think, in which you talked earlier. I think the whole world can see that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t speak the truth, right? It made this promise to the people of Hong Kong that they would have 50 years where they would operate under a system that was different. That’s the deal they shook hands with, with the Brits and became an international agreement.
Instead, they lied. They now got a national security law that puts every citizen all across the world at risk, not even just those inside of Hong Kong, if they speak in a way that’s inconsistent with the Chinese Communist Party that deems appropriate or useful. This – the world can see this and the world can see the people of Hong Kong now being treated as if just – they’re just another communist city inside of China. And I think you see the response that not only the people of the world are reacting to, but what the leaders across the world are doing to protect themselves and their people from the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party presents to them.
QUESTION: Now, as you know, I’m an evangelical Roman Catholic Presbyterian, so I go to mass on Saturday and I go to the Presbyterian Church. We’ve gone together to the Presbyterian church.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, we have.
QUESTION: And so you know that I’m a Roman Catholic, and I think the Vatican has made a lot of bad decisions recently, but the worst is the deal with the Communist Chinese Party, and Jimmy Lai is not being protected in the Roman Catholic Church in China, is going under. You have made it a point to defend all religions everywhere in the world. Do they show any signs at all of changing either their oppression of the Roman Catholic Church or of the Muslims in Xinjiang or any one of the religions that they oppress, Falun Gong?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I traveled to the Vatican now a week ago or a week and a half ago to speak with the Vatican leadership on this very set of issues. The Holy See has the capacity to exert enormous influence. Their moral witness matters an awful lot and we need them on the world stage talking about the horrific activity that’s taking place inside of China today: the enormous religious oppression, the Sinicization of the Bible, the tearing down of religious buildings – not just Christian buildings, Catholic buildings, but every religion – the oppression of the Muslims is of horrific – of horrific stature, the worst since – we’ve seen since the 1930s, what’s going on in Xinjiang today.
And I’ve called upon the Catholic Church and the Catholic leadership in the Vatican to stand up for these people. The Church has historically done that. John Paul II was an important part of turning the tide and creating freedom in Europe and the destruction of the Soviet Union and the freedom of the people that were oppressed by the Soviet Union. We need that same moral witness today. They’re a powerful force for good in the world and we need them talking about this in a way that is serious and thoughtful and consistent with the beliefs I know they hold so dearly.
QUESTION: I’m disappointed in the Vatican’s reception of you, Mr. Secretary, but you’re a diplomat. I’m not. So let me turn back to your visit to Japan. You met with the new prime minister for whom I have very little information. I just don’t have a good grip on him. But I also learned a new term, the Quad. Is that term in use in Foggy Bottom? Is it, in fact, a, quote, “mini-NATO” between us, Japan, Australia, and India?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we have begun to build out a set of relationships all throughout Asia that are enabling us to challenge the Chinese Communist Party. We came in after eight years. The previous administration did a pretend pivot. We took this seriously because the American people need to be protected from the Chinese Communist Party. And one of the tools that we use is this set of relationships with four powerful democracies: the United States of America, India, Japan, and Australia.
And I traveled to Japan earlier this week. I was there on Tuesday. And those foreign ministers all came to understand this shared threat and the opportunity for us to work together, Hugh, not just diplomatically, but on the economic front to partner to push back against Chinese Communist Party predatory activity. The Indians have banned dozens and dozens of Chinese apps, and the Indians have stopped having their government purchase any product from China. That’s remarkable. It’s work that has been done diplomatically, and then there’s the security issues too.
The East China Sea, the South China Sea issues for India around to the west of their country of the Malacca Strait and to the Indian Ocean. These are serious matters. And this Quad format, this capacity for those four powerful economies, big nations, democracies to work together to push back against the Chinese Communist Party is something that I hope that we here at the State Department can institutionalize in a way that provides powerful protection for the American people for decades to come.
QUESTION: All right. Before and after the President’s illness you were abroad – and I’m going to talk to you about Greece in just a moment – then you came home and you went to Japan, and you’ve been talking to the President throughout. Has he seemed in the least bit fatigued or tired? Are you surprised he even has COVID or had COVID? I think it’s passed.
SECRETARY POMPEO: None. Not the least bit tired. We had long conversations. We talked about all the issues that I’m working on, keeping him updated on, the things that I’m doing. I get the guidance from him just as I have now for almost four years. Nope, he seemed completely up to the task, working hard, and helping to deliver security and American foreign policy the way that is uniquely something that our administration has been successful in.
QUESTION: Throughout that entire episode, was there ever a moment, Secretary Pompeo, when you doubted the President was in charge of the government?
SECRETARY POMPEO: None.
QUESTION: All right. Let me go to the headline in The Financial Times this week. Quote, “Will China and the U.S. Go to War Over Taiwan?” The reporter had said, “some U.S. lawmakers, military experts, and some China hawks are calling for Washington to make its commitment to Taiwan’s defense more explicit.” Any comment, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POMPEO: This administration has been relentless in the work that we have done to make sure that the understandings that we’ve had between ourselves and China as they relate to Taiwan are delivered upon. There’s the Taiwan Relations Act, there’s a set of understandings that’s been in place for quite some time. And we’ve made sure to fulfill those commitments, whether that was weapons sales to Taiwan that are consistent with those agreements, whether it’s the willingness of our military to ensure the freedom of navigation in and around Taiwan.
These are the obligations that the United States should undertake and is undertaking. We recognize that this is a point of conflict with the Chinese Communist Party. We don’t want that. We want peace. But we are going to make sure that we live up to all of the obligations we have to Taiwan.
QUESTION: Now, Mr. Secretary, I want to close with your trip to Greece, which I think was very little covered and very important. And I want to go there – I know you don’t do politics, but on the vice presidential debate on Tuesday night, Kamala Harris spoke blissfully of the Iran deal. Joe Biden wants to get back into it. It’s as though the left wing in this country does not understand Iran. Do the people in Greece understand their threat to the east and the south of them? Do Americans not get what the Greeks get about Iran?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, I actually think most Americans get the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. It may be that certain American leaders don’t understand it. No, the Greeks get it. I traveled on that same trip to Italy. The Europeans get it. Everyone understands the challenge. There’s different approaches that different countries will take from time to time, but no one disputes they are the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. They continue to work to build out their capacity to have enriched material and that they foment trouble wherever they go.
No, the – I think the entire world understands this challenge. We put additional sanctions on them yesterday, significant new sanctions that are on their major financial institutions of Iran. We will continue to pressure the regime to change its behavior. No, the – I think the Greeks get it, I think people throughout the Middle East get it; certainly, all the Gulf states understand the instability that Iran creates there. And I must say, they are very hopeful that the set of policies that this administration is taking in the Middle East that has delivered the Abraham Accords, an enormous advent for peace in the Middle East that has put pressure on the regime in Iran and denied them all the money that they had running free under the JCPOA. The Gulf states understand that this is a policy – and Israel understands that this is a policy that needs to continue.
QUESTION: The extraordinary Abraham Accords negotiated by the President, you, and the entire Trump administration really have received very little attention here, but are there benefits already obvious to you as Secretary of State in the Middle East?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. It’s flipped the switch. I think the entire Middle East now recognizes that the central tenet for American foreign policy in the Middle East for decades was we can do nothing absent an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. What – the truth is we can build out peace, we can build out infrastructure, we can build out institutions that create stability there even while trying to get that conflict resolved as well. We hope the Palestinians will come to the table. They’ve chosen just to throw Molotov cocktails and play the victim. I hope they change their pattern.
But in the meantime, we have now built out structural relationships. Some of the countries have formerly normalized yesterday. You will see that the Jordanians are now permitting Israeli overflights of commercial aircraft. Every country will approach this in a different way, but most now – all of the people of the Middle East understand that hatred of Israel is not a good policy, that they are a democracy, a capable economy, a good security partner as well against the threat from Iran, and this is a fundamental shift that has taken place under the leadership of President Trump.
QUESTION: A last question, Mr. Secretary: When you were in Greece – in Crete, in fact – you announced a new expeditionary sea base there, the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams; I believe that’s named for the hero of Orange County, a Medal of Honor recipient – (laughter) – a great man. I’m glad that we’ve got a great tie with Turkey – with Greece, but is Turkey lost to NATO? I mean, that is a significant, terrible development if it is.
SECRETARY POMPEO: We need that not to be the case. We need Turkey to be a good NATO partner to assist in the security of NATO’s southern flank. It’s unfortunate what they’ve chosen to do by purchasing the S-400 weapons system. We urge them to reconsider that and to pull it back. We need them to be part of NATO and we – I went to the region to make sure that those NATO partners in the region, the Eastern Mediterranean, found a peaceful way to resolve their maritime conflicts. There’s a dispute about waters – fair enough. There are mechanisms, legal mechanisms, international law that can resolve this. Coercion, bullying, military activity is not the way to resolve it. I hope that every party that is engaged there will come to see that, and they’ll get back to the negotiating table and resolve their maritime conflicts.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thank you. Always a pleasure to talk to you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Have a good day, sir.