U.S Department of State
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
July 6, 2020
QUESTION: Now, one of the targets of that smear, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, joins me exclusively now. Mr. Secretary, great to see you. Now, I know you feel that Rice’s remarks show a lack of restraint that our country can’t afford to have back in the White House. Explain all that.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Laura, thanks for having me on. To hear Ambassador Rice talk that way is just crazy. She has a history of going on Sunday shows and lying. You all will remember that back in 2012 she went on five Sunday shows, and Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods had all perished under her administration’s watch in Benghazi, Libya. She went on and made up a story about a video and a protest when she knew full well that this was a terror attack. She did so because it was politically convenient to say that. It’s a – it’s the worst kind of behavior from a national security leader.
And as for her comments about Russia, it was on the Obama watch, under the Susan Rice watch, under Vice President Biden’s watch, that Ukraine had one-fifth of its real estate taken by Vladimir Putin with virtually no response. It was under her watch that Syria was handed over to the Russians as a result of a red line that Obama had drawn in the sand but then refused to enforce. And you’ll recall too, when it comes to having American soldiers taken care of, what she suggests this administration didn’t do but does always, it was her administration that was underwriting the Iranian regime while it was killing American soldiers in the Middle East. That was an administration that didn’t care about our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, and certainly didn’t act in a way that was securing the American national interest.
QUESTION: So now, Mr. Secretary, we don’t have to play the sound bite, but John Bolton essentially in his never-ending media tour for his book, he said it’s inconceivable that the President wouldn’t have been briefed on this report about Russia. Your response to his continued push against the administration on these matters of national security?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t want to go back and forth with John Bolton, other than to say much of what he had in his book and a number of the things he has said in the aftermath of that haven’t proven to be true. He was there. He saw that this administration worked hard to make sure the President had all the information he needed to make good, sound national security decisions.
And with respect to this particular issue in Afghanistan, I can assure every one of your viewers that this administration acted in a way to protect every American who was serving in Afghanistan. We have fought the Taliban harder than the previous administration ever dreamed about fighting them, and now President Trump is going to protect our soldiers by working to get a peace and reconciliation deal that allows them to come home.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, your thoughts on these former Bush staffers – this is kind of what they did when Trump was running in 2016 – but all these former Bush staffers coming out and saying we’re going to support Joe Biden. What about that? And what does that reveal about their alliances, the alliances they’ll make in order to defeat Donald Trump?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s sad. This is an administration that has executed its national security function in a way that every American can be proud of, whether it was striking Qasem Soleimani or the remarkable work we did to take down the entire caliphate in Syria, terrorism, the work we’ve done to put pressure on Iran. To watch these former officials now suggest that somehow former Vice President Biden is going to be the right outcome to protect Americans is just silly.
QUESTION: What will their China policy look like? From what you know now, with what Biden believes that the real threat to the United States and the culture wars that are – what can we expect as Americans as a policy toward China if that likelihood would come to pass?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Laura, I think we know because we have eight years of history with President Obama and Vice President Biden’s China policy. They did nothing, whether it was on the important issues we’re facing today on human rights, whether that’s in Tibet or Hong Kong or in the western part where Uyghurs are being forced to conduct abortions and forced sterilizations. They did nothing, whether it was in Taiwan, where they refused to do the right thing, or even protecting Americans from predatory economic activity, costing Americans thousands and hundreds of thousands of jobs here in the United States.
We know what the Obama-Biden administration did with respect to China. It kowtowed, it appeased, it turned the other cheek, and it left America in a weaker position as a direct result of that failure to lead.
QUESTION: Now, speaking of which, I know you’ve probably seen this, but China’s eradicating of freedom in Hong Kong, you warned of this for years. And The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese law now requires Hong Kong authorities to strengthen regulation of the media and the internet, and empowers Beijing to deploy state security agencies to establish a bureau overseeing national security in Hong Kong. And now they’re not ruling out, Mr. Secretary – China is not – blocking Hong Kong’s citizens from leaving for the UK, because the UK says, “You want to come back and live here? Come here.”
So what’s our response going to be? Would we welcome the Hong Kongers into the United States if China continues along this path, which they most certainly will?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Laura, it’s almost certain they’re going to continue on this path. To your point, a few weeks back now, President Trump made clear that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous. I certified the same. And we can see this is going to end up just being another communist-run city. It’s unfortunate. Hong Kong was such a special place, where there were all of the freedoms that the people of Hong Kong were promised by the Chinese Communist Party. It’s much like the promise they made to tell us the truth about where the coronavirus came from. We know it started in Wuhan. We know it came from China. And yet they covered it up for an awfully long time.
It’s these same kinds of broken promises that will lead the United States to take the right response with respect to Hong Kong’s new national security law. We’ve already begun the process of revoking visas for people who made these decisions, and there will be a series of actions that the administration will take. We’d love to preserve the freedom in Hong Kong; but if we can’t, we’re going to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable.
QUESTION: And finally, Mr. Secretary, the huge Chinese app TikTok has about 30 million users in the United States, but it’s been banned now by India, and Australia is considering the same action, saying that TikTok was full of mass surveillance and propaganda and also that the app had the ability to feed information straight to Beijing.
So a kind of obvious question: If all that’s the case, shouldn’t we be considering right now, tonight, a ban on Chinese social media apps, especially TikTok?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Laura, your viewers should know we’re taking this very seriously. We’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure. We’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security. We’ve done all of these things.
With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too, Laura. I don’t want to get out in front of the President, but it’s something we’re looking at.
QUESTION: Would you recommend that people download that app on their phones tonight, tomorrow, anytime currently?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it’s great to see you as always tonight. Thanks so much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Laura.