September 28, 2021

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Alec Gartner of KSNT-TV NBC 27 Topeka

28 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Manhattan, Kansas

QUESTION:  Well, thank you obviously for joining me today.  We’ll jump right into it.  I imagine you’re going to be asked a lot about Chinese tariffs today and all of the trade war or at least back-and-forth with China.  Can you kind of give us an update of where we stand?  And right now it would seem like there was ramping out recently of tariffs.  How is it looking right now?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So I remember when I was a member of Congress I watched farmers try to sell their products in China – corn, wheat, dairy, whatever it was – and they couldn’t.  President Trump is going to fix that.  It’s unfair.  It’s wrong.  It’s deeply, deeply troubling.  The Kansans lose jobs because the Chinese steal intellectual property from Kansas farmers, from Kansas manufacturers, from people all across our great state.

So President Trump understood that we were at war with China long before he came into office with respect to trade.  They were stealing from us.  They were taking our intellectual property, denying us markets while they could come sell their products here.  So the mission set’s been very clear:  We’re going to fix that.  We want fair trade.  We want reciprocal trade.  We want no tariff barriers.  We want a Kansan who develops a product to be able to sell that product to China just the way that an innovative person from China can sell their product right here in Kansas.  That’s the mission set.  President Trump has made real progress on that.  I’m confident there will be more progress in the days and weeks ahead.

QUESTION:  This has been a year or a year at least – a long-time issue that you guys have been dealing with.  How much do you worry that something needs to get done before the next presidential election where a democratic candidate could reverse what you guys have been doing?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We’re focused on doing the right thing.  If you get it right and you convince the American people that this is what you did, this is why you did it, I’m confident that Kansas will understand that that was the right thing to do.  And that’s President Trump’s focus every day.  I spend my time on American foreign policy.  I don’t spend much time thinking about American domestic politics.  Our mission set is very clear:  To deliver an America First foreign policy that reflects America’s most essential historic greatness.  That’s what we’re working on.

QUESTION:  Is there a timeframe or a crunch of any sort that you feel or you just want to get it done?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Get it done as quickly – on every mission, whether it’s  North Korea or the work that we’re doing in Afghanistan, every one of them is to get the timeline right.  Obviously, we want to do these things as quickly as we can.  But it’s not domestic politics that drive our mission set, it’s delivered on behalf of the American people.

QUESTION:  Then the other day the trade deal, the USMCA, hasn’t been ratified yet.  Where do we stand there?  Are you confident that could come about soon?  And how’s that impacting Kansas farmers or Kansans in general versus what we had in NAFTA?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, it’s a great trade deal.  Much like the work we’ve been doing with China, we were looking for an arrangement with Mexico and Canada that took care of Americans, that took care of Kansans.  Too many politicians were just willing to let go.  President Trump wasn’t.  I hope that when Congress comes back in session next week that they will quickly ratify that.  Mexico and Canada I’m confident will do the same, and we will have a much improved trade deal, one that delivers real opportunity for the next generation of Kansans.  It will be a good thing for Americans.  It will be for Mexicans and Canadians as well.

QUESTION:  We’ll jump from topic to topic.  Climate change.  Not that you’re following democratic politics right now, but CNN just held a town hall with every – the top 10 candidates on climate change.  Obviously, we pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  How much is climate change a priority in this administration?  Is there something you guys want to focus on pollution with China or any of the other to polluters in the world where we can lessen the effects, if there are effects, on the climate?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  We’re focused on things that are real, things that matter.  The Paris accords made no sense for the American people to be part of – none whatsoever.  Just take a look at the history.  Guess which country has reduced its carbon emissions most since the Paris agreements were signed?  The United States – the country that decided not to be part of it.  It’s one thing to go to ribbon cuttings and signings.

This is what I think the American people know and they see with President Trump, we’re about delivering outcomes, not fancy signing ceremonies at international cocktail parties.  Our mission set is very clear:  We care deeply about the environment.  We want to make sure this planet – that we’re good stewards of this planet for our kids and our grandchildren.  But you have to deliver real outcomes, real outcomes that allow economic opportunity, that allow for economic growth, and that do the right thing so that history will reflect well on our time in service.

QUESTION:  So it sounds like America was living up to its promise there.  Maybe other countries weren’t.  Are we still —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, look at China.  There’s another good example of China.  How many coal mines today does China have?  Go look it up.  It’s easy to find.  They’ve signed the Paris accords, and yet, they’re the most environmentally unfriendly economy in the world today, growing their carbon emissions at enormous rates.  This is wrong.  It’s not enough to say, yes, we’re member of the Paris accord.  You have to deliver better outcomes for your people and for the planet.

QUESTION:  Eighteen years since 9/11.  Coming up on that tragic anniversary.  How do you compare where we are now versus then?  Obviously, there’s still other bad actors out there.  What do you think in terms of safety from foreign terrorism, where do we stand right now?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  We’re nearly two decades off from that day.  It still makes me angry to think about the attack that took place on American soil.  I’ve spent six years as a member of Congress, then as the CIA director, and now as the Secretary of State working to protect Americans from this.  President Trump is committed to it.  Terrorism exists.  Radical Islamic terrorism is still real.  But, frankly, the world has done a good job of building up its information systems and counterterrorism policies that have reduced risk.  It’s not zero.  It’s not that a terror act couldn’t happen even as we sit here today, but we’ve made a lot of progress at delivering against that threat, and we have to be ever vigilant.  President Trump is committed to making sure that we do that.  Whether we find that terrorism emanating from Africa, the Middle East, or from Asia, the United States is going to be diligent in making sure that we protect the American people.

QUESTION:  Lastly, and I’m sure you’ll be asked multiple times again today, the Senate race is obviously open here.  Do you plan – what do you plan on doing after Secretary of State, if that’s in two years, six years, tomorrow, whenever, what do you want to do when you’re done there?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I have no Earthly idea.  I’m so focused on what I’m doing each and every day and so proud to represent the great people at the State Department every day.  I haven’t spent a heck of a lot of time thinking about my future.  I think there’s a lot of other people thinking about my future an awful lot more than Susan and I think about it.

We love Kansas.  This is our home.  It was great to come back here last night and fly in.  It reminds me of what a wonderful place this is.  But for what I’ll do next, I’m going to serve as Secretary of State so long as President Trump wants me to be his most senior diplomat.

QUESTION:  Perfect.  Simple as that.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you, sir.

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