Nov 10, 2020
Mike Pompeo Press Conference Transcript November 10: Talks International Relations, Presidential Election
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference on November 10 where he discussed international updates as well as the presidential election. He said, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” when asked if the State Department is working with the Biden administration on the transferral of power. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Secretary Pompeo: (00:00)
To Turkey, to Georgia, Israel, [inaudible 00:00:01], the UAE, and to Saudi Arabia. The conversations will differ obviously in each country, many different things to cover, but I’m sure many of them will focus on this administration’s historic efforts to forge peace and cooperation throughout the Middle East.
Secretary Pompeo: (00:17)
That leads me to my big theme today. The Trump administration has had enormous success in marshaling coalitions of like-minded nations for the good of America and for the entire world. As one example, just three weeks ago, we continued our unprecedented defense of the unborn by signing the Geneva Consensus Declaration alongside 32 other nations. I’m especially proud that we’ve made religious freedom a top priority in the United States foreign policy for the first time in America’s history.
Secretary Pompeo: (00:48)
Our efforts are gaining momentum. We’re building. They’re gaining a momentum that is all their own on November 16th and 17. Poland will host the third Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom or Belief. This virtual event, on the heels of the 2018 and 2019 ministerials which were hosted here in Washington, the State Department, are the largest human rights events ever held here at the State Department. Albania, Morocco, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Columbia have all held follow-on events as well. And the International Freedom of Belief Alliance that I launched in February of this year now has blossomed into 31 member states and growing. Next week, I’ll have the very special opportunity to participate in the virtual Alliance ministers meeting to solidify our plans for future action in the religious freedom space.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:43)
You know, we’re building out coalitions too that share our values in the economic sphere. In recent weeks, Undersecretary Keith Krach has traveled to more than a dozen countries to bring freedom-loving countries and companies together in the Clean Network, a group that pledges to use only trusted vendors in their 5G networks. I’m happy to announce we have almost 50 clean countries today representing nearly two thirds of the world’s GDP. 170 telephone companies, telcos, have agreed to be clean, and many of the world’s leading companies are on board. It includes 27 of 30 NATO allies, 31 of 37 OECD members, 26 of 27 EU members, and 11 of 12 of the 3Cs nations.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:33)
Undersecretary Keith Krach is now down in South America. He’s discussing the Clean Network with the government officials and private sector leaders in Brazil. And in fact, I got the news within the last hour that the government of Brazil supports the Clean Network principles and I’m confident will sign an MOU in the very near future. We want to thank Brazil and its leadership for doing that.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:53)
We’re also standing alongside of pursuing partners to protect the environment with the US-Brazil environmental framework dialogue that held earlier today. The United States and Brazil are about real results when it comes to protecting the environment and growing our economies, not empty rhetoric. Undersecretary Krach has also led the first ever Japan-US-Brazil trilateral exchange, which will advance democracy’s ability to prosper together as sovereign and independent states.
Secretary Pompeo: (03:19)
I’m going talk about Asia for just a minute. I’m pleased to announce that on the 20th of this month, Undersecretary Krach will lead our economic prosperity partnership dialog with Taiwan under the auspices of the American Institute of Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office here in the United States. The dialogue signifies that our economic relationship with Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and a reliable partner, is strong and growing. It will help increase cooperation and everything from safe and secure supply chains, to the clean and 5G security, to health security, and to more.
Secretary Pompeo: (03:56)
I turn to another state department bureau building out coalitions of the like-minded. Last week, the Bureau of Energy Resources under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Fannon convened a virtual meeting of the Energy Research Governance Initiative. 20 countries attended, working for a secure, resilient, diverse, and well-governed critical energy mineral and supply chains. And we’re proud to participate in the 35th Annual Joint Economic Development Group Meeting with Israel later this week.
Secretary Pompeo: (04:24)
The Trump administration has exerted American leadership in unprecedented ways in multilateral institutions too. Just as we helped protect the intellectual property rights by ensuring that the World Intellectual Property Organization is run by an individual who respects property rights, last week, the United States helped ensure that the United Nations stewards its finances responsibly. I’m happy to report that an American with 40 years of administrative and budget experience will be placed in the UN system, having won a seat on the advisory committee on administrative and budgetary questions. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal. This advisory body shapes the UN’s regular budget and its peacekeeping budget. It’s nearly $10 billion a year with more than $2 billion coming from the United States alone.
Secretary Pompeo: (05:08)
Our diplomats made the case to our allies and partners on why having an American voice on this committee for the first time in an awfully long time is crucial to ensuring the money is spent responsibly. I want to congratulate Donna Marie.
Secretary Pompeo: (05:22)
American leadership also continues on the counter-terrorism front. Today, the United States and Niger are co-hosting a virtual meeting with members of the global coalition focused on countering the threat of ISIS and its worldwide branches, including West African, and to supporting ongoing international efforts throughout the region.
Secretary Pompeo: (05:40)
And in the Middle East just last week, the United States sanctioned former Lebanese government minister Gebran Bassil under global Magnitsky authorities for his role in corruption. The Lebanese people clearly want their corrupt political class, so much of it beholden to Hezbollah, to stop ruining their country. Our action shows that American people stand with the Lebanese people as they call for their political leaders to chart a new direction marked by reforms, transparency, and honest governance.
Secretary Pompeo: (06:11)
And on Iran, our efforts to protect the American people from the regime of Tehran will not cease. Today, the Treasury Department sanctioned an international network of companies and individuals that procured electronic components for a sanctioned Iranian military firm. I think it’s clear by now that those who do business with Iran’s military and proliferation sensitive industries are risking the exact same punishment.
Secretary Pompeo: (06:34)
In Europe, the United States welcomes the EU’s adoption of guidelines for third state participation in permanent structured cooperation projects. Opening the door to US participation in EU defense initiatives will strengthen NATO EU cooperation, as well, and very importantly, interoperability. We look forward to completing an administrative arrangement with the European defense agency to ensure broad US participation inside of PESCO.
Secretary Pompeo: (07:00)
Closer to home, our prayers are with the people of the region as they recover and rebuild from Hurricane Eta’s horrible devastation. The United States government is proud to have provided assistance already to our friends in Central America.
Secretary Pompeo: (07:14)
We’re proud to support Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, as these governments work together to address illegal, unregulated and unreported phishing. We are very concerned that the Chinese IUU activity, this unregulated phishing took place off the coast of Ecuador, as it has elsewhere in the world. I was with the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister. He and I both agree that this must stop.
Secretary Pompeo: (07:36)
On Bolivia, President Trump was pleased to send a delegation headed by Treasury Undersecretary Brett McIntosh for the inauguration of president Luis Arce on November 8th. I also spoke to the President-elect last week to congratulate him on his historic victory.
Secretary Pompeo: (07:52)
We also congratulate the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on their successful election last week, and we continue to seek similar free and fair elections in Venezuela and in Nicaragua.
Secretary Pompeo: (08:03)
There’s also plenty of news before I close on the human rights front. Yesterday, the State Department sanctioned four senior Chinese communist party officials and Hong Kong police who have undermined Hong Kong’s promised autonomy and crushed the freedoms of its people. We will continue to challenge actions by the CCP and its Hong Kong proxies who stifled democracy and basic freedoms.
Secretary Pompeo: (08:27)
On Monday, in Syria, we unleashed the fifth traunch of the Caesar Act Designations on Bashar al-Assad and his regime, and the United States commends the EU for taking similar actions to sanction individuals responsible for prolonging the horrific conflict inside of Syria. We will continue to coordinate with our EU and like-minded partners to promote accountability for the regime there and the atrocities it has committed against the Syrian people.
Secretary Pompeo: (08:52)
In Geneva yesterday, the United States presented our national report on the US commitment to domestic human rights at the UN Universal Periodic Review. I’m very proud of the work we did. Our remarkable vibrant democracy provides for the greatest freedoms and protection of human rights anywhere in the world. The brutal regimes shouting the loudest about our record have the most to hide about their abysmal treatment of their own people. And with that, I’m happy to take questions.
Speaker 2: (09:18)
Hey, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Pompeo: (09:20)
Is the State Department currently preparing to engage with the Biden transition team? And if not, at what point does a delay hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security?
Secretary Pompeo: (09:32)
There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. All right? We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be elector selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly. The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with the president who’s in office on January 20th a minute after noon will also be successful.
Secretary Pompeo: (10:03)
I went through a transition on the front and I’ve been on the other side of this. I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the government, the United States government will continue to performance its national security function as we go forward.
So you believe there’s widespread voter fraud, that the reports that we’re getting from Pennsylvania, from Michigan showing vote totals and massive leads or significant leads with 99% reporting are going to be overturned and that the United States failed to conduct a fraudulent-free election?
Secretary Pompeo: (10:32)
Rich, I’m the Secretary of State. I’m getting calls from all across the world. These people are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time, right? It took us 37 plus days in an election back in 2000. We conducted a successful transition then. I’m very confident that we will count and we must count every legal vote. We must make sure that any vote that wasn’t lawful ought not be counted. That dilutes your vote if it’s done improperly. We got to get that right. When we get it right, we’ll get it right. We’re in good shape. We’re in good shape.
Should foreign leaders not be calling President-elect Biden?
Speaker 2: (11:06)
Secretary Pompeo: (11:06)
Speaker 4: (11:06)
[inaudible 00:11:08]. I want to ask you-
Secretary Pompeo: (11:12)
I can barely hear you, ma’am. I’m sorry.
Speaker 4: (11:13)
Yeah. [inaudible 00:11:14] News. I want to ask about the sanctions against Gebran Bassil in Lebanon. We know that, we heard that this was on the making for some time, but I want to ask about the timing. Were you doing this to make a new stage for then a new administration? And also, I want to ask about the arm sale to UAE, when we expect that to be delivered?
Secretary Pompeo: (11:45)
So the second question was about the arm sales to the United Arab Emirates. So we’ll have significant announcements with respect to that here very, very soon. We continue to review arm sales all across the world, including to our important friend and partner in the United Arab Emirates. And we’re confident we will be able to provide them weapon systems that will ensure their security and do the work that we all need to do collectively to counter the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And did you ask about Iranian sanctions earlier and the impact of those?
Speaker 4: (12:15)
No, the sanctions against Gebran Bassil in Lebanon.
Secretary Pompeo: (12:18)
Speaker 4: (12:18)
Are you setting a new stage for the new administration? I want to ask about the timing, that’s it.
Secretary Pompeo: (12:23)
Yeah. So I’ll answer that question more broadly. No, the sanctions we put in place are because they’re right and proper and will deliver good outcomes for the people in the country in which we sanction their leaders who are corrupt. That certainly holds true for Gebran Bassil, right? This was someone who was deeply connected to a foreign terrorist organization, Hezbollah. We have now sanctioned him. The Lebanese people don’t want to have anything to do with that. They want an independent nation. They want a sovereign country. They don’t want the political elites that have been corrupted through the system that was put in place and permitted them to loot and rob their country. They want freedom. They want prosperity. They want jobs. Those are the things we want and the sanctions that we put in place against the former minister are appropriate and useful towards getting us closer to that one day where the Lebanese people can have what it is they so richly deserve.
Speaker 4: (13:08)
Are we expecting a new sanctions?
Speaker 2: (13:08)
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Pompeo: (13:12)
Hi. How are you?
Secretary Pompeo: (13:14)
Good, good. Is there any evidence that the CCP has interfered in the recent election or is trying to sow chaos in the aftermath of the legal challenges?
Secretary Pompeo: (13:25)
Was the question about Russia?
I’m sorry, CCP, or any foreign-
Secretary Pompeo: (13:28)
Yeah, any foreign interference
Secretary Pompeo: (13:29)
So I’m going to leave that question to the Department of Homeland Security and to the Justice Department, the folks who deal with that. But as I think we all said prior to the election, we did an enormous amount of work to reduce the risk that they would have the capacity to have a significant capability to interfere in the elections themselves. And I’ll leave the details of what they have determined so far about that for them to announce.
Secretary Pompeo: (13:55)
Go ahead, I’ll take one more.
Speaker 6: (13:58)
Secretary Pompeo: (13:58)
Speaker 6: (13:58)
Hello, Secretary. You said when the process is completed. So when are you [crosstalk 00:14:06]
Secretary Pompeo: (14:05)
Yeah, this is the third question. Just, ma’am, if you would. I came out here today and talked about important foreign policy issues. This is now the third question-
Speaker 6: (14:12)
Sir, this is most important thing that’s happening in this country right now. I’m wondering what kind of guidance-
Secretary Pompeo: (14:17)
Yes, ma’am. Go ahead and ask your question and I’ll give my answer.
Speaker 6: (14:18)
What kind of guidance are you giving to American diplomats on how to characterize the results of the presidential election? And also, this department frequently sends out statements encouraging free and fair elections abroad-
Secretary Pompeo: (14:29)
Speaker 6: (14:30)
And for the losers of those elections to accept the results. Doesn’t President Trump’s refusal to concede discredit those efforts?
Secretary Pompeo: (14:36)
That’s ridiculous. And you know it’s ridiculous and you asked it because it’s ridiculous. Look the truth-
Speaker 6: (14:42)
Secretary Pompeo: (14:43)
You asked a question. Yes, ma’am, you asked the question. If you will, permit me to answer it. You asked a question that is ridiculous. This department cares deeply to make sure that elections around the world are safe and secure and free and fair, and my officers risk their lives to ensure that that happens. They worked diligently on that. We often encounter situations where it’s not clear about a particular election. We work to uncover facts, we work to do discovery to learn whether in fact the outcome, the decision that was made reflected the will of the people. That’s our responsibility, that’s what we try to do, along with partners all across the world, along with OSCE inspectors, to make sure that those elections were free for her.
Secretary Pompeo: (15:18)
We want every one of those votes to be counted in the same way that we have every expectation that every vote here in the United States will be counted too. It is totally appropriate. The United States has an election system that is laid out deeply in our Constitution and we’re going to make sure that we get that right. And we have, all of you have, and should be committed to making sure that that happens. I think every one of you wants that same outcome. You want every vote to be counted. You want to run the process. We want the law to be imposed in a way that reflects the reality of what took place. And that’s what I think we’re engaged in here in the United States and this is what we work on every place all across the world. Thank you all.
Speaker 7: (15:54)
How are you advising diplomats overseas to refer to President-elect Joe Biden? Have you given the State Department any guidance?