INTERVIEW: Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Maria Bartiromo of Fox News Sunday Morning Futures

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Maria Bartiromo of Fox News Sunday Morning Futures

September 20, 2020

Plano, Texas

QUESTION:  Secretary, good morning to you.  Thanks very much for being here.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Maria, it’s great to be with you.  Thanks for having me on the show this morning.

QUESTION:  I want to discuss the magnitude of this agreement in a moment, but first I do want to get your thoughts on Justice Ginsberg’s passing this morning.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, we always mourn the loss of life.  She was an amazing, hardworking woman committed to her vision of America.  We pray for her and her family.  And her service to America is unquestionable.  She was doing her best every day to try to deliver on the things she cared about deeply, and she had a real impact on our country. 

QUESTION:  She sure did.  And there’s such conversation this morning about that impact.  Secretary, I want to ask you about this incredible Middle Eastern situation, the significance of Tuesday’s signing, how it will make the Mideast better.  Walk us through how this all came about.  Why now?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, so that’s the right question.  These overnight successes, as you know, Maria, in life are from years of hard work.  For three years President Trump has taken a fundamentally different approach.  The establishment Middle East policy was that you had to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians first.  The President came to understand quickly that the real threat to these countries was the Islamic Republic of Iran, so we flipped the narrative.  We worked to deliver a coalition to get the Gulf states to work together, to convince them that they could, in fact, work alongside and partner with and do commerce with the state of Israel and recognize them, and that they would be safer, their people would be more prosperous.  Those are the central underpinnings. 

It then took action.  It took principled action on behalf of President Trump and our administration to convince them that the Americans would be there.  And whether that was the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, to acknowledge that the Golan Heights properly belonged to Israel – all things previous presidents had just said were nuts, that you couldn’t do.  It was against the establishment’s vision for how to create stability in the Middle East.  And then the work that we did to kill Qasem Soleimani and take down an enormous threat to everyone in the region. 

I think those things gave these Middle Eastern states the trust, the confidence that the United States would stand behind its commitments, and it created the space for not one but two agreements, the first two in over a quarter of a century, between Israel and the UAE and between Israel and Bahrain, that will make the lives better for each of the peoples of each of those three countries.  It’s really quite a momentous day.  We hope there’s more to follow.

QUESTION:  And American negotiations have tried this for years, decades, and with no success.  What was it about this administration’s prodding, this administration’s laying out the potential for peace and progress, that really moved the needle here, and are there other countries lining up to perhaps engage in a similar deal to normalize relationships with Israel? 

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yes, Maria, there will be other countries that will make the right decision to recognize that Israel has its right to exist, and they’ll want to do business with them, and they’ll want to connect with them, and they’ll want their people to have exchanges.  I saw the number of LinkedIn exchanges between the United Arab Emirates and Israel – off the charts the day after this announcement.  The people of those countries understand that this historic rejection of Israel, its right to exist, was the wrong thing to do, so I think you’ll see more nations follow and make the right decision.

What created the opportunity was the recognition that the way to create stability was to make Iran more isolated, and we’ve done that.  It’s been talked about how America has been isolated in the region.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Israel has now more partners, more friends.  The United States now has more partners and more friends in the region than at any time in recent history, and they did that because they came to trust President Trump and his team would be there with him, would do the right thing by them, and that we would support them when they made the right decision to recognize the state of Israel. 

QUESTION:  Are you expecting retaliation of any sort from Iran, and what has been the reaction from the leaderships of these countries in the face of pushback from Iran?  Are they getting bullied by the Iranian officials? 

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, remember there’s two things going on.  One, we have this peace deal, and then last night at midnight the UN sanctions snapped back, putting another increasing restraint on the capacity for the Islamic Republic of Iran to create harm in the Middle East.  We now – the United States has led and will prevent arms trafficking by Iran.  It was – the previous deal with Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden signed off on was to allow the Iranians on October 18th, just a couple of weeks from now, to traffic in weapons again.  It’s nuts, absolutely nuts.  We stopped that.  We stopped it last night with action at the United Nations.  We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

But Iran has been fomenting terror in the region for 40 years since the revolution.  There’s no reason to expect that in the short run they have any way of getting out of the box and changing their ideology and their theocratic, kleptocratic nature.  What President Trump has said is we’re going to deny them the resources.  We’re not going to send crates of cash.  We’re not going to allow them to do business in the world.  We’re not going to allow them to create the very wealth that destroys the opportunity for peace in the region.

I’ll give you another example.  Everyone wants Lebanon to get better.  President Macron is leading an effort there.  And yet the Europeans have not joined us in stopping arms trafficking.  Those weapons – those weapons that Iran will sell – will end up in the hands of Hizballah and make life tragically worse for the people of Lebanon. 

The world needs to unite around the central idea that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the greatest threat, and when that regime changes its behavior, we have the chance to create true global stability in the region.  It’s what we’ve been working on.  It’s what President Trump asked us to do.  And now, three years in, we can show the fruits of that effort. 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  I mean, where is Europe in this?  Similar situation as it relates to China.  You’ve got 30 countries pushing back on Huawei and we’re still waiting on any resolution in Europe.  Same with Iran.  Can you talk about that a bit and just give me the practical changes that we’ll see as a result of this snapback in sanctions on Iran?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So the second question as a practical thing, there’ll be a whole lot more things that would have taken place absent the UN Security Council resolutions coming back into effect last night – arms sales, tanks, air defense systems.  All of those in a couple of weeks would have been permitted to have been sold. 

And the Europeans have not joined us in this.  They know we’re right.  They tell us privately we don’t want the arms sales to come back.  Indeed, they’ve put in a letter that they are very concerned about these arms sales, but they haven’t lifted a finger.  They haven’t done the work that needs to be done.  They have no option, no alternative to what we’ve done, to ensure that that doesn’t happen.  I hope they’ll join us.  I hope they’ll get to the right place.  They’re still wedded to this silly nuclear deal that was signed now five years ago.  I hope they will come to understand that if you really want to lead, if you want to be part of a global coalition to reduce risk in the Middle East, then you need to join us.  We need these sanctions to snap back. 

Europe is getting better, Maria, with respect to how they’re thinking about China.  We spent a couple years just sharing the risks with them.  We’ll begin an EU-China dialogue before too terribly long, where we’ll begin to have conversations about how we can together put down this threat from the Chinese Communist Party that it presents to the freedom, to religious freedom, to commerce and trade – all the things that Western nations value, all the value sets that we hold.  We’ll push back, and I am hopeful that the Europeans will get onboard.  Many of the countries have already.  I hope the larger ones will join us in this as well.

QUESTION:  Well, you’ve done an incredible job on this.  Real quick before you go, China.  And you’ve spoken about this so much over the last several years, and you have been the first administration because of your work, the President’s work, on pushing back on the bad behavior of China.  They’re still doing business with Iran. 

And now the President is giving his blessing to this deal between TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart.  Can you explain how this is not a national security risk, Secretary, because ByteDance, the Chinese company, still are going to own 80 percent of this TikTok Global, and we know that if the Chinese company – the Chinese Communist Party wants that data of American citizens, they’re going to get it given the civil-military fusion laws in China?  So how is this not a risk?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, Maria, this – you’ve nailed the right point with respect to WeChat, TikTok, and all other Chinese telecommunications companies.  We’ve been working on Huawei for years now. 

The single rule is this:  We don’t want American data in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party for the exact reasons you’ve described.  It will end up in the hands of their MSS, their security apparatus, their military, their civil-military fusion programs.  So that’s the rule President Trump laid down. 

As with the transaction around TikTok, I’ve seen the outlines of it.  The President now has said he is conditionally okay with what they’re doing.  This deal, if approved in the end, if ultimately approved, will ensure that no American’s data has any access to anyone in China that has any capacity to move this to a place we don’t want it.  We will ensure that that firewall is real, that the protection is serious, that the data resides in places that aren’t connected to the Chinese information system. 

Whether there is still some Chinese ownership or they still collect a royalty check from the benefits of the business, there will be an American headquarters.  It will be controlled by Americans.  And the data – most importantly, the data, the very reason we have gone after TikTok – that data will be in a place that we have confidence that no American will have the risk that their data will end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

QUESTION:  Not accessible by the company that owns 80 percent of the franchise?  ByteDance, a Chinese company?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Think about oil deals.  I used to do oil deals all the time.  I didn’t have any access to the company’s information.  I just got a royalty check, right?  That’s the situation, just a passive shareholder who collects money and/or writes a check if the company is not doing well.  No access to the company, no decision-making authority, to ability to peer into what they’re doing; just a passive shareholder.  And President Trump has made clear he will make sure that this is solid, that it is locked in.  He’s not going to leave open the possibility this information will get into the hands of the very people that we went after this to make sure they did not have. 

QUESTION:  Secretary, it’s great to see you this morning.  Thanks so much for your leadership, sir.  We appreciate your time today.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you, Maria.  Have a good day.

QUESTION:  See you soon, and to you.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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