Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Rob Schmitt of Wake Up America on Newsmax
(STL.News) QUESTION: All right. We’ve got a very special guest joining us on “Wake Up America” now. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is with us here on the show. Mr. Secretary, good morning.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Rob, good to be with you this morning.
QUESTION: It’s a pleasure to have you with us. Newsmax magazine had you on its cover saying that you were President Trump’s sheriff by implementing his “American First” policies. If you had to say that you are most proud of one thing that you’ve achieved as Secretary of State, what would that be?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Goodness, Rob, it’s hard to nail down to a single thing. President Trump came into office with a fundamentally different view from what Washington had done for a long time on foreign policy. We broke a lot of glass and we’ve had an enormous amount of success and made the American people safer as a direct result of that. The “America First” doesn’t mean America alone. It just means that we think about the American people and their security as our first priority.
So whether it’s the work we’ve done to reorient the world to understand the threat from the Chinese Communist Party or the fact that we’ve now created enormous amounts of peace and stability throughout the Middle East and put Iran on its backfoot, the list of successes in the international space is very long under this administration’s first four years.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, we haven’t seen “America First” at this level really since the Reagan administration. Regarding China, you and President Trump really hit the reset button there. How serious a threat do you think China remains right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Unfortunately, it’s a tremendous threat. Indeed, I would evaluate the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest threat to security of the American people and indeed the free world of any of them that are out there. There’s a leader, General Secretary Xi Jinping, who is intent upon using the power of state-owned enterprises, their military services all together in this thing they call civil-military fusion —
SECRETARY POMPEO: — to create a hegemony to expand its reach, to expand its power. It does through using commercial activity, including the theft of millions of American jobs. These are the kind of things that pose real risk to the American people. And Donald Trump is the first president who – this is not political. Both political parties looked away, bent a knee to the Chinese Communist Party. President Trump said enough and we’ve begun to turn the corner and build out a coalition all around the world of democracies and free market economies to push back against this threat.
QUESTION: When you were speaking to Georgia Tech just recently, you called Xi Jinping’s intentions nothing short of sinister. Talk about that a little bit.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, when I was at Georgia Tech, I was talking about a particular area, that’s the – America’s education institutions where they have infiltrated, sent spies. You’ve seen what the FBI has done recently. They have now 360,000 Chinese students studying here in America. Some of them are here just to study, but many of them return home. We care deeply about the Chinese people. We want them to be successful.
But we can’t allow them to come steal secrets from our leading research institutions, places like Georgia Tech. We can’t allow the Confucius Institutes to act in ways that work against the American people. Those are the kind of things that President Trump has taken on. We’re beginning to have success. There’s an awful lot more work left to be done.
QUESTION: Yeah, of course, and we see that they’re interning with members of Congress and mayors as well. Mr. Secretary, you recently tweeted support for Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who was arrested by the Chinese. What’s his status right now? And do you see China giving Hong Kong freedom again?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So Jimmy Lai is a true patriot. He cares deeply about the people of Hong Kong, as does our administration. This is another example where General Secretary Xi Jinping broke a promise. He made a 50-year commitment for freedom for the people of Hong Kong and he’s now bashed it. He’s now taken it away with his national security law that caused the imprisonment of Jimmy Lai, who was simply trying to speak about the basic rights for the people of Hong Kong.
We’ve challenged this. We’ve pushed back against this. We welcome the United Kingdom and other countries that have joined us in this. I fear that Hong Kong is becoming just another Chinese-run communist city, and that’s too bad. It’s inconsistent with what Xi Jinping had promised and it’s another example of the fact that you simply can’t trust with the Chinese Communist Party says. You have to verify every single thing that they assert.
QUESTION: Many on the right are – on the left, rather, are saying that it was our own domestic media that helped to sabotage the 2020 election. But of course China and Russia remain concerns. Have you seen any direct evidence that China or maybe another foreign power interfered in the 2020 -presidential election?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, I haven’t seen interference as a direct matter, but make no mistake about it: The Chinese Communist Party’s influence operations – you mentioned mayors and governors – I would add city council members. We’ve seen what they’ve done with respect to putting MSS officers up close to members of Congress. Make no mistake about it: They are trying to influence the way our elected officials and our candidates think about China and that – that’s likely to continue until administrations like ours work hard, push back. We closed the consulate in Houston just aimed directly at this, right. They were running a spy operation out of what was supposed to be a diplomatic facility. If America gets this right, I am very confident just like the challenges came before it, America will meet the challenge from the Chinese Communist Party as well.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there is this narrative out there that the President has completely botched the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has – as you and are speaking, a vaccine is rolling out here domestically in the U.S. that took less than nine months develop, the fastest by far in history. And there’s this narrative that somehow China is not responsible for this pandemic. How do we hold China accountable for everything that’s happening right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Rob, we have begun to do that already, and you can in fact see the world beginning to build up its efforts to push back and hold accountable China as well. If you watch what Australia’s doing and other countries – you see what India is doing. The world understands the simple fact that this virus, this Wuhan virus, came from China, and that the Chinese Communist Party covered up what they knew about the risk associated with this virus. They allowed people to travel internationally when they should not have. They should have alerted the world to this. And as a result, we’ve now had a million-plus people killed around the world, enormous economic devastation. The Chinese Communist Party bears a direct responsibility for this, and the world needs a collective response to it.
I was – I was thrilled to see this morning when I woke up, trucks rolling – vaccines rolling all across America. I’m very confident that the amazing work that’s been done, under Warp Speed and this administration, to build out this vaccine in historically fast time will continue to distribute, continue to deliver, and that we’ll right the ship and get the vaccine out to every single person who wants it before too terribly long.
QUESTION: Yeah, and I think – sir, I think that history will judge it that way, as a remarkable success, especially with regards to this vaccine. Mr. Secretary, we know that you care deeply about personal religious freedoms, especially here in the United States. They have been affected by the coronavirus. Churches, synagogues, wherever you worship – many have been closed, some have been shut down, some might not reopen. With so much else to deal with right now, can we really bring influence to bear on this issue in repressive societies around the world, like in China for example?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Rob, we’ve spent a lot of time in this administration – I am incredibly proud of the work we have done on religious freedom. It’s this most fundamental right, this human right that – from which all others flow. If you get religious freedom right and tolerance for people of faith, so many good things happen in your country. So we’ve worked on this – in China, which is devastatingly bad, they’re treating a million Uyghur Muslims in ways that are just absolutely devastating, things we’ve haven’t seen since Germany in the 1930s. So we’ve worked hard on religious freedom.
It saddens me to see some of our governors making decisions, denying religious freedom for people here in the United States of America. It’s not my lane as Secretary of State, but as I travel the world and make the case for allowing people to exercise their basic freedoms, to worship in the way that they want, it’s very discouraging to see leaders use an excuse of the coronavirus to allow bars and casinos to be open, but not permit places of worship, people to gather around their faith.
QUESTION: Hypocrisy in all 50 states, Mr. Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, there is – if Joe Biden does become President on January 20th – I know you are incredibly loyal to President Trump – right now that 2024 field is coming into shape. Is there a chance that you’re a candidate for the presidency in 2024?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness, Rob. I’d answer almost anything you asked today. I am focused on the next handful of weeks, making sure that we get everything right up and through January 20th. And until the moment that I am no longer Secretary of State, I’ll stay focused on that. I – I’ll add only this: It has been an enormous privilege to serve in this administration and do my part to deliver on the commitments President Trump made to keep Americans safe and improve our national security. I’m very confident that we’ve done that, and I’m proud to have been part of this team.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Rob. So long, sir.