Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
QUESTION: Secretary, thanks for joining us this afternoon.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It is great to be with you. Hope you’re doing well.
QUESTION: I’m doing great. I was just describing for the audience that the foreign policy of President Trump administered by you as Secretary of State was a break from both Republicans and from Democrats in the past, and was a brand new approach to the world which President Trump has summarized as “America First.” One way or another, you’re completing the first term of President Trump’s administration. What do you believe in the overall you’ve accomplished?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I think to your point, we’ve reset how America thinks about the world, and frankly I think the rest of the world can see that. President Trump made no bones about the fact that American foreign policy ought to take care of Americans, keep us here safe at home, create a prosperous set of conditions for us. And what I think the world has seen is when we do that, when we act in a way that is consistent with protecting America and creating prosperity here in America, good things happen across the world. We’ll partner with likeminded nations to push back against the threats of the Chinese Communist Party. We will work together with our Middle East partners in the Gulf states to protect Israel and to challenge the seeming continued march of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We’ll protect religious freedom. When we do those things, when we get those things right, we’re realistic about American foreign policy and protecting Americans, there’s more stability and more prosperity, not only here at home but all around the world.
QUESTION: There were a lot of people when President Trump came in who said that the leaders of the world were not going to take him seriously, that America was something of a joke. Well, you’re the guy who has to deal with the leaders of the world. I think those people have been proven wrong. I think that they now realize that the United States of America, when it asserts itself, means what it says. And rather than not take him seriously, I think as you look at Donald Trump after four years as President of the United States that there is more respect toward our country than ever because we have asserted ourselves. Your take on that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think that’s unmistakable. This President has been very clear about the things we care about and the things that matter to us, and when he has, we’ve pursued them with great vigor and with great integrity. And so while we were patient when the – when it was required, we took down Qasem Soleimani to protect the American people. When the Chinese continued to steal intellectual property, President Trump said enough and worked to try and get a trade deal. And when he couldn’t make progress, he put tariffs on those products in a way that imposed real cost on the Chinese leadership.
This President has demonstrated that the weakness, the appeasement, the – I think they used the term “leading from behind” – is a failed set of policies, and that the world appreciates when America is active and vigorous and candid. It acknowledges the things that it’s going to work on and works on them diligently and with integrity. I think that’s made America more secure and I’m confident it’s made the world more stable as well.
QUESTION: I think the two great accomplishments here – the one that nobody mentions, despite all of this assertiveness on the part of the President, we’re not at war anywhere in the world right now, and there were a couple of these in the Middle East – Afghanistan in particular – where we appeared to be permanently ensnared and people couldn’t figure out what the exit strategy was. As one of the architects for the reset that we’ve done in the Middle East – and if you want to expand to include what’s happening with Israeli peace deals, do so – but your thoughts on being assertive but at the same time America is now at peace?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We can’t be everywhere and always to all things. We will not demonstrate the capacity to actually make the changes that are in America’s best interest if we tell people that’s what we’re going to do. What the President came and said to the world was America will be very clear about the things it’s going to do and how we’re going to execute them. So your point is very well taken. The whole world – and frankly, this is Republican and Democrat administrations alike – had a precondition of solving the problem between Israel and the Palestinians and said we can’t do any work in the Middle East until such time as we do so.
President said nonsense. The President moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. He said the Golan Heights was part of Israel. We began to build that relationship with the Gulf states that led to the historic Abraham Accords, where you now have the Emiratis and the Bahrainis and the country of Sudan, all of which have now recognized Israel’s right to exist. That has made the Middle East more stable. That’s an example of the kind of work that President Trump has done, and it’s a foreign policy that I think leaders all around the world have enormous respect for.
QUESTION: And the final question: The China reset. We had made the deal with the devil because we had significant business relationships with China. We allowed them to never do anything for us that we wanted on the international stage and screw us with regard to trade, intellectual property, and so on because we liked the business relationship here. The President made the decision to take on China and China didn’t like it, and who knows what the long-term ramifications have been and who knows what trouble China has caused as a result of that? I think long term, whether Donald Trump’s term ends in a couple of months or four years from now, the biggest thing that he did for better or for worse was to disconnect the United States from China in terms of our over-reliance on them for manufacturing and their ability to just elbow us in the face all the time. Of all the things you’ve been dealing with, I know China has been number one on the priority list. Given where we are right now, a quick summary – I guess 60 seconds, if you can do it in 60 seconds – of the role of the United States for China and what the Trump-Pompeo administration did in that area.
SECRETARY POMPEO: For 40 years, America bent a knee to China and created exceptions because we wanted to trade our integrity, our national security for some – a little bit of economic benefit that in fact destroyed tens of millions of jobs through all out the heartland – my home, Kansas, places like you live there in Wisconsin. President Trump said enough. And so we have worked diligently to make China behave in a way that’s more consistent with the rule of law. We’ve told them we’re not going to accept being treated unequally, and while there is an awful lot of work that remains to be done, our focus on this – we have now built out likeminded nations all around the world who have come to see China – the Chinese Communist Party as the threat that President Trump did. I’m really proud of what the President has accomplished there and I think it will be a lasting change which will make the world more prosperous and the world a safer place as well.
QUESTION: Mike Pompeo, thanks for joining us this afternoon.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir. Have a good evening.
QUESTION: Sure thing.