September 27, 2021

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Jayme West and Jim Sharpe of Arizona Morning News on KTAR Phoenix

16 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Via Teleconference

QUESTION:  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joining us now on Arizona’s Morning News.  Secretary, thank you so much for your time this morning.  Appreciate it.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Great to be with you all.

QUESTION:  So, yeah, we were just talking about the Mexican border.  That is the most important international issue for us here in Arizona, understanding that commercial traffic didn’t stop.  When will non-essential travel be allowed across the border?  I mean, we could really use the boost to our economy here in Arizona.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  No, amen.  Look, we have this issue in the north with Canadians, we have it with the Europeans who want to come here and invest and create wealth, and we see it.  We see it in Arizona.  We see it in Texas.  We need to get this non-essential travel going back again.  I hope it’s quickly.  We’re working with the Mexican Government to identify what that would look like, how we make sure that we do it right and keep people safe.  But we appreciate – we were able to keep the commercial traffic open.  That was a godsend, frankly.  President Trump led the charge on that and kept our economy in a better place.  It’s now time to begin to move traffic across that expands and increases the capacity for us to make lives better for the people of Arizona and the people of the entire region.

QUESTION:  We are talking with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and seeing you travel – Europe right now – they’re calling it a second wave of the coronavirus in Europe right now.  Paris is even under a curfew trying to combat the virus.  So are we considering more travel bans from Europe or anywhere else, and is there an end in sight to those travel restrictions?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So we’ve been working hard on ending these travel restrictions.  Indeed, we are on a case-by-case basis allowing travel to take place mostly, at this point, to make sure that we keep jobs and the economy going here in the United States of America.

We’re working closely with the Europeans, frankly with – each country has got a different situation.  You mentioned France.  We’ve seen the same thing in Spain.  We’re worried about what’s taking place in Italy as well.  Looks like they’re having a spike in cases too.  We’re working with each country, and in fact, in some places in each region to make sure that we do the right thing.  We’ve got to keep business going.  We got to keep livelihoods here in the United States of America.  They know that in Europe too.  And we’re working to make sure that we are sufficiently nuanced, that we keep health and safety as the primary objective, but at the same time, we can’t lock down in such a way, we can’t close our borders off in such a way that we destroy lots of wealth, lots of American jobs, and the – frankly, the loss of health and lives that comes with a destroyed economy.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  We are talking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  I know this is a tough balancing act here, but can we at least slightly pin you down on a timeframe for both non-essential travel across the border here in Arizona from Mexico?  And we get a lot of international tourists here to come see the Grand Canyon and our other world-renowned attractions.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So no, I can’t give you a hard date, but you hadn’t – we hadn’t talked about tourism before.  Tourism’s usually important to our entire country, our entire economy.  There are two issues here, one of which is we’ve got to work to get the vaccine in place because that’ll give people confidence to travel again.  It’s one thing to make sure – to permit people to travel.  It’s another thing for folks to feel comfortable that they can do so.  I think we’re getting closer on both fronts.

I hope in the coming weeks we begin to see that the government restrictions, whether it’s ours or the Mexican Government’s or the European governments, those restrictions are eased.  And then I hope people will once again come to believe that they can travel to the United States, do so safely, and they’ll want to come here and invest and take in all the great sites in Arizona and other places here in America.

QUESTION:  We are a little over two weeks before the election and you have said that President Trump’s call for your State Department to release emails from your predecessor, Hillary Clinton, is important for transparency.  So Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, how can you assure the American people that’s not politically motivated?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  Look, we work every day on lots of requests for information.  This is another one of them.  To date, the State Department has posted some 35,500-some of the emails that were on Hillary Clinton’s private server that shouldn’t have been there, many of which were classified.  We continue to make sure that we – to the extent we find them, we get them out.  Transparency matters.  This isn’t about politics.  This is about ensuring that the American people have access to all of the information.  Whether that’s from Hillary Clinton’s server or elsewise, it’s that they need to understand what their government’s doing on their behalf.

QUESTION:  We are joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Arizona’s morning news, and speaking of the President, we have heard him talk a lot about how China is going to pay for unleashing this virus.  Any idea how he is going to make China pay and when that would happen?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Absolutely.  I don’t want to get out in front of decisions he’s going to make, but I would argue that the Chinese Communist Party is already paying dearly for it.  You look at the approval ratings of China all across the world, and certainly here in the United States, and I think people have come to understand that this authoritarian communist regime doesn’t mean well for the people of Arizona.  They want to steal your intellectual property, take jobs, and – I was talking yesterday about the Confucius Institutes.  They want to come into Arizona schools and foist their propaganda on our kids.  I think we have stopped much of this.  There’s still more work to do.

And then ultimately, the Chinese made a set of very dangerous decisions with respect to the Wuhan virus.  They knew they had a problem.  They knew that they needed to close down Wuhan but they continued to allow international travel.  And they didn’t let us find out what the actual source of the virus was so we could actually respond to it in real time.  We’re now months in.  We still haven’t been given access so that we understand where the Wuhan virus actually began inside of China.  Those are dangerous things.  The entire world is going to reflect on this as time goes on, and I think the Chinese Communist Party will pay a real price for that.

QUESTION:  What about China and Russia as well, other countries trying to spread misinformation using electronic means to mess with our election – not the actual election results, but to misinform people and kind of put us at each other’s throats?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  These efforts are real.  There is a real Chinese effort, there’s a real effort from Iran.  Russia too is trying to spread disinformation.  We have two responsibilities in government and then every citizen has one.  Our responsibility is to try to identify it and stop it, make sure that it doesn’t propagate across.

Second, we need to call it out when we see it.  That’s the job of the State Department to speak with our international partners and adversaries and say knock this off, stop it, we’re going to impose costs on you when you do it.  And then every American citizen too needs to make sure that when they read information, whether it’s on their social media accounts or they watch TV or they hear it on radio that they’re evaluating that information.

And we ought to look to the source.  If you’re seeing it come out of a Confucius Institute, if you’re seeing it come from a Chinese media outlet here that’s a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party, if you’re seeing it come from Russia Today, it’s – RT is how it’s branded here in the United States – you should look askance at that information.  It is likely being propagated by one of those governments, and those governments don’t want democracy.  They don’t want our election to be successful.  They want to undermine the very values that make America such an enormously exceptional country.

QUESTION:  All right.  Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States, thank you for your time.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  So long.  You all have a good day.

QUESTION:  Thank you, sir, really appreciate – you too.  Take care.  Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Bye-bye.

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