Secretary Pompeo With Larry O’Connor of Larry O’Connor Show

QUESTION: And right now, by the way, just so you know, we are standing by for the Secretary of State. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be joining us literally – oh, he is here. All right. So joining us right now is the former congressman of Kansas, former CIA director, graduate – first in his class – from West Point, which I’m told is a pretty good military academy if you can’t get into Annapolis.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thanks for joining us, sir.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Larry, it’s fantastic to be with you. I appreciate that introduction greatly.

QUESTION: There is so much to discuss. I first want to talk about probably – I’m sure it was your first priority when you heard about this global pandemic, you had to mobilize to try to help all of the Americans spread around the world who wanted to and needed to get home. How is that effort going? Because that’s herculean.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s been a big task. It became clear very early on that when planes and buses and aircraft stopped traveling, we had a lot of Americans, some of them on mission trips, some of them on business or vacation, all who needed help getting home. It’s not the normal line of business for the State Department, but we began to build out a plan, a little commercial airline, and we’ve gotten people back from Morocco and from India and from the foot of Mount Everest in Bhutan and the Amazon forest. All across the world now, almost 70,000 people that we’ve helped repatriate back here home, back to their families.


SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re proud of the work we’ve done. We still got folks who are out there, and we’re working to make sure we get everybody back just as safely and as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: Do we know, Mr. Secretary, do we have Americans who have been infected who are overseas and having to deal with whatever country they’re in right now, their health care system? Are they hospitalized? Do we have that data?

SECRETARY POMPEO: No, I don’t know the data precisely, but I’m sure someplace there are folks like that. The folks that we’ve been bringing back we’ve been able to handle in a way that we got them all back. We had folks on cruise ships too. Some of your listeners, I’m sure, would have seen that. Some of those people had been infected, and we’re dealing with the medical situations on those cruise lines. So we are familiar with how to help Americans who are in difficult places and who may well have either been impacted by or exposed to the coronavirus.

QUESTION: But we’re still operating our embassies, correct, but are you down to skeletal crews now at our embassies? How is that functioning?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s a mixed bag. In places like Wuhan, China, where we had the virus originate, we very quickly pulled all of our folks out of the consulate there. But in most places across the world, we still have a significant piece of our team in place so that if there are Americans who have challenges and need to get home or want to hunker down and stay in the country they’re with because they think it may be just as safe to stay there, you know that you’ve got an American that you can reach out to at the embassy to get assistance if something should really go awry.

QUESTION: We’re speaking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. You mentioned Wuhan. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Can you confirm this report that there was a scientific diplomatic investigation of a laboratory there that raised some red flags about their protocols and concerns up to two years ago?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I can’t say much other than this: We are constantly trying to evaluate all across the world, including in China, when countries have high-level facilities where they’re doing virus research or pathogen research, that it’s being done in a safe and secure way. There are many of those kinds of labs inside of China, and we have been concerned that they didn’t have the skillset, the capabilities, the processes and protocols that were adequate to protect the world from potential escape.

And we have high expectations for those facilities we have here in the United States. We hold ourselves to very high standards. We have expectations that the World Health Organization and other global health institutions will ensure that other countries have those same standards, because as you can see, when a virus escapes into the wild, it can have global implications that extend far beyond any one country’s boundary.

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