QUESTION: They’re telling us to mind our own business; that’s what China is telling us. Let’s bring in Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State. Good morning to you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ainsley, it’s great to be with you this morning.
QUESTION: Can you believe that? They’re telling us to mind our own business, that we’re lying through our teeth. Meanwhile we have almost 60,000 people dead, so many people out of work, and they’re telling us to mind our own business. How are we going to – how are we going to fire back? What are we going to do to hold them accountable?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So Ainsley, this very much is our own business. I was talking with some friends back in Kansas – I’m sure Steve knows some of them – they’ve been impacted by this in ways that are going to fundamentally change their lives over the course of the next several months. They’re trying to figure their way out of this. What the Chinese Communist Party did here, in not preventing the spread of this around the world, they are responsible for. America needs to hold them accountable. I’ve been heartened to see Australia, other countries joining this, demanding an investigation, because while we know this started in Wuhan, China, we don’t yet know from where it started.
And in spite of our best efforts to get experts on the ground, they continue to try and hide and obfuscate. That’s wrong, it continues to pose a threat to the world, and we all need to get to the bottom of what actually happened here, not only for the current instant but to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. There are still many labs operating inside of China today, and the world needs to know that we’re not going to see a repeat of this in the days and weeks and months ahead.
QUESTION: Well, if it did come from the wet markets it will come again because they are back. I’ve seen the video. You know more than I’ll ever know. They are back, so they haven’t learned their lesson. Either that or it came from the Wuhan laboratory and they’re lying again. Here’s what China said when the criticism starts coming out of America where we are to them: “We advise American politicians to reflect on their own problems and try their best to control the epidemic as soon as possible, instead of continuing to play tricks to deflect blame.” Can you read between the lines for us?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, they know that this happened in their country. This is classic communist disinformation. This is what communists do. The Chinese people were harmed by this too. The Chinese Communist Party – we know there were journalists that were kicked out. We know that there were doctors that tried to tell this story, and instead they were pushed aside, covered up, taken out of the news. Those are the kind of things that communist institutions do. We all know them from the Soviet days. We know the kinds of things that communist parties do to try and manage information inside of their own country and around the world.
And so we see these efforts – I saw a foreign ministry official this morning on TV trying to change this narrative. We know that this virus started in Wuhan, China. We now have – the Chinese Communist party now has a responsibility to tell the world how this pandemic got out of China and all across the world, causing such global economic devastation.
QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, if we would have known earlier, things could be a lot different. There’s a story in the New York Post that apparently Dr. Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shelled out a total of $7.4 million to the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab, which has become the center of theories about the origin of COVID. And also, Mr. Secretary, I understand that apparently Democratic senators have written a letter to you – they want to see some cables, any or all cables that the State Department might have regarding this as well. What can you tell us about what’s going on behind the scenes at that federal level?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So I can’t – I don’t know the details of the NIH grants. I do know a bit about the cables. We’ll do our best to respond to those two senators. Look, the United States, for a long time and continuing today, tries to help countries around the world who are conducting research on highly contagious pathogens. We do this not only in China, but we try to bring our expertise from our National Institutes of Health, from our CDC, to precisely prevent something like this. That’s the reason that we spend American taxpayer dollars is to protect American people from labs that aren’t up to standard. I can tell you there are – were real concerns about the labs inside of China, and I have to say I’m still concerned that the Chinese Communist Party is not telling us about all of what’s taking place in all of the labs, in fact each of the labs, all across China today.
QUESTION: Yeah, pretty scary. What’s happening in North Korea? What’s the latest there? Any sightings of Kim Jong-un?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ainsley, not much to add to what the President said yesterday. We haven’t seen him. We don’t have any information to report today. We’re watching it closely, keeping track of what’s going on, not only around Chairman Kim himself but more broadly inside of North Korea. They also have the risk of COVID there and there is a real risk that there will be a famine, a food shortage inside of North Korea too. We’re watching each of those things closely, as they have a real impact on our mission set, which is to ultimately denuclearize North Korea.
QUESTION: And your administration knows better than any other administration in the past or present what these people are like face to face, because you know your counterparts better, because you’ve had all these meetings since then. But let’s move over to Iran. Iran’s flat on its back, right, economically with the coronavirus, the humiliation of having Soleimani killed, and then shooting down a passenger jet, but yet you say they’re still up to their unsavory acts. They shot a satellite into sky they say is so terrible it’s just a – basically a – it’s a traveling webcam up there, so the embarrassment of that. But you say they’re still up to some – up to no good. In what way?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They’re trying to put disinformation out as well, Brian. They’re telling the world that they’re broke and they need relief from American sanctions, they need humanitarian assistance. But we’ve offered humanitarian assistance, and the ayatollah and the kleptocrats, the theocrats that lead the Iranian regime today are still out spending money on things that don’t benefit the Iranian people, things like the military missile launch in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and they’re continuing to fund Lebanese Hizballah and the Iraqi Shia, all the things that take money out of the mouths of the people inside of Iran.
So no one should be fooled about this regime. If they truly cared about their people, they’d behave in a way that is fundamentally different. It’s what we’ve been trying to get them to do for our three years in office, and I’m convinced we’re on the right path to deny them their resources – the regime the resources to threaten America. That’s been President Trump’s goal, to deny them a nuclear weapon. We’re determined to do that.
QUESTION: All right. Mr. Secretary, the United States has really mobilized in producing masks and ventilators as well as figuring out the testing situation. The President has made it very clear that he’s talked to other countries about how we did it, but at the same time other countries reached out to the United States and said, “Hey, if you’ve got some spare ventilators, we can use them over here.” Obviously some countries are downplaying the impact of COVID in their nations, but who is reaching out for help to the United States?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Steve, a lot of countries are asking us for assistance and a lot of countries have received assistance. We’ve, of course, done the right thing. We’ve made sure we had the resources for our own people, but as the American greatness – as American power and American commercial prosperity continues to grow, we’re building out – we’re getting not only ventilators but all of the equipment that the world will need. The United States will be an enormous force for good in countries in South America, in countries in Africa, all across the world, helping them solve this problem for themselves, which in turn, if we get it right – we can reduce the risk of COVID in their countries – will reduce the risk that it comes back to our country either this fall or again next year.
QUESTION: Yeah, which countries that experienced this before our country did – which ones are you watching to see how they reopen their businesses and they get back to work?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re watching a number of countries. We’re watching how Singapore handles it, although they’ve had a resurgence in cases in their country as well. South Korea, too, had some success at the front end and now they’re trying to maintain that. We’re watching each of them to see how not only they’re doing it inside of their own country, but these are countries that often buy products from American companies – we want to make sure that they get their markets back open, and that American products and American jobs return here in our country as well.
QUESTION: For the longest time, the State Department would dance on the edges of what – should we be tight with China, not tight with China? They make things so cheap and they make things also that are cheap, and a lot of times they break and – ineffective. But for the first time in all of our lifetime, the world has been poisoned by this country, and there’s only one way to point – is to China. As Secretary of State, do you have a unique opportunity to unite the world and open up their eyes to the type of regime this is, and is there a plan in place with the nine months or four and a half years you have left to neutralize this superpower?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Brian, you’ve hit it square on the head. I think President Trump said it clearly himself as well. The threat, the risk, the danger, and now the harm that the Chinese Communist Party has imposed not only on the United States but all around the world. We not only have an opportunity, we have an obligation to get this right, to unite the freedom-loving nations, likeminded countries around the world, to make sure that it is not a communist regime that controls our infrastructure. We’ve talked about this with you all with Huawei, our telecommunications infrastructure. We know what this needs to look like and the United States has an obligation to get this right. We’ll do this to make sure that we keep the American people safe and get our economy back on its feet, and continue to make America the most prosperous, wonderful, great nation in the history of civilization.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I think before this COVID crisis struck, I think the conventional wisdom was that the President was going to be able to broker a trade deal with China maybe just five minutes before the election, or whatever. It would just be one of those things that he would be able to say, look, I was able to do a deal with China. Right now, the politics are very complicated, and given the fact that China has done what they have done, not being forthcoming with this epidemic, it probably doesn’t look too good for a deal, does it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, Steve, look, we’ve got – this is the conundrum. We’ve got the phase one trade deal. China continues to make promises and says they’ll live up to it. I hope that they do. We have every expectation today that they will. It’s certainly what they had agreed to. But we’ve watched China now break repeated promises. They say they’re transparent, they say they want to be open, they say they want to join the community of nations, and then we watched them in this crisis behave in ways that are just the opposite of that. I hope we can find a way to have commercial relationships with them where it makes sense for America and American businesses, but President Trump has, from the beginning, said we need fair and reciprocal trade with China, and that’s what he’s going to continue to demand.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us this morning.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ainsley, thank you, ma’am.
QUESTION: You’re welcome.