Secretary Pompeo With Van Harden of Van Harden Show, WHO Des Moines

QUESTION: It’s 8:38 here at WHO, Van Harden in the morning. And this is a real honor: On the phone line is the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Good morning, sir. How are you?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning. It’s great to be with you today. Hope you’re doing well.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. We haven’t talked to you for a while. And I was just thinking how focus has probably changed quite a bit, given the current state of affairs, huh?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir. We’ve had to shift our focus and work on a couple of things related to this virus to help Americans be safe and secure and to do our part to help make sure we get the economy back open as well.

QUESTION: So there are probably a lot of people overseas. Are there people that are wanting to come home or have a lot of them already done that? Or how do you see that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s been a big task. We have now rescued over 61,000 American citizens who were trapped all across the world. You know some of them, I’m sure, who were either on vacation or a mission trip or on their – overseas for work, whatever it may be, and all of a sudden the world stopped moving. Planes stopped flying; trains stopped running, buses. They raised their hand; they came to the State Department and said, “Can you give us an assist?” And we moved into action and have now brought over 61,000 Americans home from 109 countries. There are some great stories about people being rescued from near Mount Everest to the Amazon rainforest. We’ve been very proud to be part of getting Americans back to their families. It was a big undertaking, and we’ve accomplished an awful lot. We still have a few more to go, but we’ll get there.

QUESTION: So if somebody’s trapped – and you’ve outlined some of the ways they might have been trapped – what could you do as Secretary of State to help them with that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’d ask if you’re – or if you or a loved one or someone you know has got a problem and they can’t make their way back to the United States because of the travel restrictions that are in place, they reach out to the embassy there in the country or to the State Department here. They can call. There’s a website location. You can get on what we call our STEP program.

And what we’ll do is we’ll talk to you. We’ll find out precisely where you are. You may not be anywhere near an airport. We’ll figure out how to get you someplace, if you need some assistance. We’ve taken medications to people when push came to shove. And we’ll do our best to coordinate a way for you to get back, whether that’s travel back on a charter flight or a military flight that may be in the area or some other way to get you back. We’ll work to coordinate that so you can get home.

QUESTION: I’m sure you must have a lot of employees. How are you and your staff doing with all this?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We do. We have tens of thousands of employees in 180-plus sites all across the world. We’ve done our best to continue to perform our mission, while trying to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple hundred people come down with the virus. We’ve now had three fatalities, three people who have passed as a result of this as well.[1] It’s a reminder for our team not only how important our mission is but how important it is to do everything we can to keep every member of the State Department safe.

QUESTION: Did you have to put a lot of stuff on the back burner? I mean, you’ve got a busy job in the first place, but when something like this comes up, does it disrupt what you’re doing normally?

SECRETARY POMPEO: No mission can go away. We still have to deliver against every task. It is certainly the case that some of the leadership has had to focus on that project, but in the finest traditions of American leadership, our team, at the direction of President Trump, has still been able to accomplish not only this task or this set of tasks but all the other things that we do all across the world as well. Look, we’re a little slower on getting passports back to people today, but I’m very confident in the days and weeks ahead we’ll recover that as well.

QUESTION: One of the reasons I like to have you on here is you’re a good communicator and it just seems like you’re a great guy. How do you like that job?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s an enormous privilege to serve President Trump, to serve the American people as our nation’s most senior diplomat. To travel the world representing the United States of America is an incomprehensible honor for me. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of joy too. I work with a great team of professionals here at the State Department and all across the United States Government who, under President Trump’s leadership, are truly working to keep the American people safe. I love what I’m doing, I enjoy what I’m doing, and I’m going to keep doing it as long as President Trump wants me.

QUESTION: One last question. If President Trump wins reelection and he asks you to continue as Secretary of State, would you like to do that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. I have enjoyed every minute serving him, both first as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and now in this role. Look, the President will get to make his decisions as he changes out to the next administration. He and I will have that conversation when the time is right.

QUESTION: Well, Secretary Pompeo, thank you for your time. It’s – and your service to the country. It’s appreciated.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir. I appreciate you having me on today. You all have a wonderful day.

QUESTION: You bet. Okay, you too.

[1] See Coronavirus Repatriation site for latest figures: https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/repatriation/

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