Jul 30, 2020
Mike Pompeo Testimony Transcript: Secretary of State Testifies on State Dept. Budget
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate on the State Department budget on July 30. Pompeo discussed mail-in voting, US relations with Russia and China, and the withdrawal of troops from Germany. Read the full transcript of the testimony here.
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Mr. Mendez: (00:00)
-With Russia and its foreign minister, Lavrov, with respect to Russia reportedly placing bounties on the heads of service members in Afghanistan.
Secretary Pompeo: (00:09)
Well, I want to be very careful about what’s public record and what’s intelligence based. But yes, I can assure you and the American people that each time, I’ve spoken with Foreign Minister Lavrov, I’ve raised all of the issues that put any American interests at risk. Whether that’s our soldiers on the ground in Syria, soldiers on the ground, in Afghanistan, the activities that are taking place in Libya, the actions in Ukraine. Each and every one of these that potentially threaten American interests are things that I raised in my conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov. I speak with them with some frequency.
Mr. Mendez: (00:42)
I appreciate that answer. I asked you specifically, have you raised concern, this is in the public sphere-
Secretary Pompeo: (00:49)
That doesn’t mean it’s not classified, Senator.
Mr. Mendez: (00:51)
I’m not talking about classified materials. Have you raised … there are public reports, very well documented, that the Russians were supposedly paying bounties to kill our service members. Have you raised that issue with Foreign Minister Lavrov?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:05)
Senator, I’m going to be more careful than you’re being with respect to the intelligence. I’m going to tell you that make no mistake about it, the proper people have been aware of every single threat to our soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, whether that was General Miller or my team at the embassy there in Kabul, anytime there was a tactical threat on the lives or the health of the safety and security or our assets in place, we have raised this with our Russian counterparts, not only at my level, but Ambassador Sullivan and every one of our team that interacts with the Russians, we’ve made very clear our expectations. [crosstalk 00:01:38] to threaten us in Afghanistan.
Mr. Mendez: (01:40)
Let me turn to a few other questions. Maybe you can answer these just simply yes or no. I think they’re just factual in nature. Did Turkey purchase the S-400 system from the Russian Federation?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:52)
Mr. Mendez: (01:53)
Did Turkey pay approximately 2.5 billion for that system?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:56)
I don’t know. I’m not aware of the amount of the transaction.
Mr. Mendez: (02:00)
But they did pay them whatever the amount is, right?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:03)
Senator, I believe that’s correct. Although Senator, let me just, I apologize. I am not certain that the cash has been exchanged.
Mr. Mendez: (02:10)
Does the Turkish government currently have the S-400 in its possession?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:14)
It has an S-400. Yes.
Mr. Mendez: (02:16)
Did Turkey test the S-400 radar on an American built F-16 in November of 2019 as was publicly reported?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:23)
Senator, I’m not going to answer that question. I’m not going to discuss classified information in this setting.
Mr. Mendez: (02:29)
Has the president raised the S-400 with a President Erdogan?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:34)
I don’t talk about things that the President speaks about with foreign counterparts. The White House is free to do that if they choose, but I’m not going to.
Mr. Mendez: (02:44)
Let me ask you a simple question. You sent me a response just on Monday saying that you’re taking your responsibilities under CAATSA seriously and that you fully intend to comply with the law. Well, all of these elements clearly are in violation of CAATSA. Over a year since all of these facts have attach, when will the administration follow the law and impose CAATSA sanctions on Turkey?
Secretary Pompeo: (03:15)
Senator, in response to the Turkish government’s acquisition of the S-400, we’ve taken significant actions that have had a real impact on Turkey. We pulled out a very significant weapons program that they were building significant pieces of inside of Turkey, the F-35 program. We continue to evaluate how to apply sanctions in order to achieve our end objective. Our end objective isn’t to punish. It’s to ensure that our NATO partner acts in a way that’s consistent with American National Security and the security of our NATO partners as well. Our diplomats, Ambassador Satterfield on the ground, are working diligently.
Mr. Mendez: (03:48)
I had a very pointed question. I know that you’re a Harvard graduate, West Point graduate. You know what my question was. It’s not about everything else. It’s about CAATSA. But you decided not to answer that. Let me go to the final question. You had the Inspector General of the State Department, Mr. Linick ultimately fired. Is that correct?
Secretary Pompeo: (04:13)
I recommended to the President that he be terminated. Yes.
Mr. Mendez: (04:17)
You recommended it to the President that he be terminated why? Because he was conducting investigations that may affect you?
Secretary Pompeo: (04:26)
Senator, at the time I made the recommendation to the President, I was unaware of any of the investigations that were ongoing, that he had on going at the time, with one exception. I was aware of an investigation that he had asked me to provide testimony. I provided that testimony. Other than that, I was unaware of any investigation. It’s not remotely the reason [crosstalk 00:00:04:46].
Mr. Mendez: (04:47)
Was your under-secretary Mr. Bulatao aware? Didn’t he speak to you about it?
Secretary Pompeo: (04:50)
He did not speak to me about it.
Mr. Mendez: (04:52)
Well, you said that the IG was not performing in the way he should have, because he wasn’t following, in essence, what you wanted to. Well, inspector generals aren’t supposed to follow what the department head wants to. They’re supposed to be independent in pursuit of their mission. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: (05:13)
Mr. Johnson: (05:15)
Mr. Secretary, welcome. Thanks for your service. I think we can all acknowledge the world’s a complex and messy place. As the ranking members said, facts are stubborn things and administrations have track records. Just a quick review, you came into office, President Trump came into the office with a big mess, a lot of messes that you had to clean up. Let me just quickly go through them. Libya, a failed state, because of President Obama’s actions. Syria had gone from a few hundred dead over his administration to basically a genocide, about a half a million people killed in Syria. What I consider as one of the historic blunders in foreign policy, the removal of troops from Iraq allowed ISIS to rise from the thoroughly defeated ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Crimea had been illegally annexed. Eastern Ukraine invaded, and President Obama did not provide the lethal defensive weaponry on a unanimous basis that Congress authorized him to do. North Korea was rampantly testing missiles and their nuclear weapons. Iran, through that agreement, it changed their behavior for the worst. It emboldened them. Of course, illegal immigration, primarily in the form of a family units, exploiting laws that weren’t being enforced in this country was exploding.
Mr. Johnson: (06:34)
President Trump came into office with a lot of foreign policy messes. By the way, last time I looked, under this administration, we started no new wars. We’ve destroyed the physical Caliphate of ISIS. General Soleimani, al-Baghdadi are off the field. President Trump actually provided those lethal defensive weaponry, the Javelins, which helped stabilize the situation in Iran. Quite honestly, we’ve done a pretty good job at reducing that out-of-control illegal immigration from the Southern border by diplomacy with Guatemala, is one of the things that occurred there. I think we have to put those track records and compare them and talk honestly about these things.
Mr. Johnson: (07:16)
Now, the ranking member have been pretty brutal regarding the firing of Inspector General Linick. I was copied on a letter that Under Secretary of Management Bulatao wrote to Mr. Horowitz. I’ve read it. It’s somewhat complex. I just want to give you an opportunity to talk about what happened. By the way, I’m very sensitive to Inspector Generals, or trying to push Inspector Generals to investigate the leaks on these departments.
Mr. Johnson: (07:49)
There were 126 leaks having to do with national security in the first 125 days of this administration. That needs to be investigated. If you could describe the leaks that you were concerned about and exactly how Inspector General Linick didn’t handle that the way you thought it should be handled.
Secretary Pompeo: (08:08)
Sure. Thank you, Senator Johnson. Let me just say I value Inspectors General as well. I had a great relationship with the Inspector General at the CIA when I was there. He did his job. He took care of the team. He was critical of the agency when we got it wrong. I know what I know what a good IG can do. Inspector General Linick wasn’t that.
Secretary Pompeo: (08:28)
The incident you’re referring to is that we had a very sensitive Inspector General report. When the final draft was prepared late, the Politico reporter, I think, said it came from two people close to the investigation. At that point, it was basically the IG’s office and a couple others that actually knew about it in the full report, which had a real impact on senior State Department officials’ lives. When we confronted the Inspector General, he was defensive. We then asked him to undertake a process. He ignored that request to inspect, to have a separate IG come and investigate.
Secretary Pompeo: (09:02)
It’s pretty complicated, but suffice it to say he didn’t comply with the instructions about how we felt that leak needed to be investigated so that we could have an independent investigator do it. Then he wasn’t candid about that process either. He didn’t act with integrity throughout that process in a way that Inspector Generals have to be counted on to behave.
Mr. Johnson: (09:21)
Well, I have my own issues with Inspector General Linick. I won’t go into those. But right now I’m being falsely … Senator Grassley and are being falsely accused of pedaling in Russian disinformation. Because of acting Director of National Intelligence Grenell’s efforts to declassify four footnotes in the Michael Horowitz’s IG report, we now know that the Russian disinformation that was involved in the 2016 campaign was bought and paid for by the DNC. The Clinton campaign was contained in the Steele Dossier. That is the truth. That is the Russian disinformation. I have heard no outrage on the part of our Democratic colleagues about that Russian disinformation. But we are still undergoing our investigation. We’re trying to seek documents out of the State Department involved in that Steele Dossier.
Mr. Johnson: (10:16)
Let me just ask you a specific question. October, 2016, former State Department official Jonathan Wiener arranged for Christopher Steele to provide other State Department officials, the anti-Trump dossier he compiled for the DNC in the Clinton campaign. That same month, Mr. Weiner gave Mr. Steele information collected by Clinton supporter supporters, which Mr. Steele then passed on to the FBI.
Mr. Johnson: (10:38)
This conduct raises serious concerns under the Hatch Act, Federal Records Act, and other department policies. Although then IG Linick acknowledged conducting a review of this conduct, he has not published any of his findings and admitted that the OIG did not interview any of the key players. Are you aware of these issues? Can you commit that the Department will be responsive to our requests from Senator Grassley and myself? We need these documents.
Secretary Pompeo: (11:04)
Senator, we’ll do our best to be responsive. We understand the requests. We’re working through it. Yes, I’m familiar with the information that you set forth there with respect to the behavior that took place in October of 2016 in the State Department.
Mr. Johnson: (11:18)
Were there any other specific incidents that caused you to ask for the removal of Inspector General Linick?
Secretary Pompeo: (11:24)
Yes. There were. There were several. Look, at the end, it’s about the core mission, accomplishing the core function. One of the central functions to make sure that we can represent to you all that the financial statement for the State Department is accurate and full. We have an audit team to do that. Inspector General Linick screwed that up. I’ll read from the investigative report. It said, “Oversight by the OIG was demonstrably ineffective, ultimately placing the department’s information, as well as the reputation, human capital, and operations at considerable and unnecessary risk.”
Secretary Pompeo: (11:51)
That’s an enormous failure for one of the most important tasks that the IG’s office does, conduct the audit of the State Department’s books. There a handful of others. He refused to take care of his team in important ways. There were 10% fewer audits of our posts around the world. One of the most important functions, aside from the audit, is to travel around to posts and conduct audits to make sure that they’re conducting business appropriately. We’re down about 10%. I must tell you, morale inside the IG’s office, of all, we have 38 assistant secretary-level bureaus. The IG’s office was the worst survey results of any of those 38. He didn’t take care of his people either.
Mr. Johnson: (12:28)
He also did not investigate the improper use of personal emails in the State Department, which was rampant under the previous administration.
Mr. Chairman: (12:36)
Thank you, Senator Johnson. Senator Cardin.
Mr. Cardin: (12:39)
Oh, thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here.
Secretary Pompeo: (12:42)
Mr. Cardin: (12:43)
America’s strength is in our values. We are the global leader for democratic values. We have been so recognized. We’ve worked with the international community, as the leader of the free world, with other countries that share our values. We led in that. One of the best examples was the passage of the Magnitsky Sanctions, the global Magnitsky, which was not just bipartisan, it was pretty much universal here in supporting, promoting US values. I was glad to work with the late Senator McCain on the passage of that legislation. Now Canada, Europe, Australia, are all following our leadership to enforce universally recognized democratic values.
Mr. Cardin: (13:29)
When the United States isolates itself from our traditional allies, it affects our credibility as a global leader of the free world in promoting democratic values. When we pulled out of the Climate Agreement, when we isolated ourselves on Iran, when our trade policies had been more bilateral rather than working with other countries, in order to try to advance our causes against non-market economies or government-controlled economies, all that affects America’s credibility.
Mr. Cardin: (14:02)
When I look at your budget, I see a decline of 35% in democracy funds. To me, I don’t understand that cut, 35%, if we’re going to be the leader in democratic values. But then I was pleased to hear you mention, as the first order of your remarks today, human rights and values, American values. But I was disappointed that to used the Commission on Inalienable Rights as the example. I say that because in my conversations with human rights advocates, not just here, but globally, they look at the United States trying to promote a political agenda on rights, rather than working with the international community, the free world, on democratic principles of human rights. Tell me how commission has engaged the activists globally that are fighting every day for human rights, when it is very much tied towards a particular political view, rather than a universal view on human rights.
Secretary Pompeo: (15:06)
Senator, I appreciate the answer to talk a little bit about the commission and the objective I set out now just over a year ago with respect to it. I’d urge everyone to take a look at it and read it. I think they did phenomenal work. I don’t agree with everything that’s in there. I don’t think any of the 10 members that came from broad religious backgrounds, broad political backgrounds, I don’t think any of the 10 of them agree with just everything in there. But what it set out to do was take on what is an enormous crisis in the 20th century human rights project. We’re in a really bad place all around the world. It was my view, as I watched the State Department, our department, our DRL, all the folks who work on this who are great and amazing people, I watched as they were unmoored. They didn’t have a founding. I wanted to go back and talk about how do we more American foreign policy and American human rights’ policy and the traditions of the United States. That’s what the commission was asked to do.
Mr. Cardin: (15:55)
I guess what I don’t understand is what was the problem that you’re trying to solve? There’s been a great deal of debate in establishing universal values of human rights, which has been the core for democratic states. Now all of the sudden we’re picking winners and losers, but it looks like it’s done on a political basis. Let me move to a second subject, if I might, on arm sales. We have a proud tradition of making sure that when we supply arms to other countries, that they’re not used against our human rights values. We’ve seen in recent years that arms provided by the United States has ended up in the hands of actors that we do not want to see get those arms. What oversight are you deploying to make sure that arms that we make available to other countries are used for the intended purpose and do not end up for the wrong use.
Secretary Pompeo: (16:52)
Senator, we have an elaborate process to do our best to verify that doesn’t happen. It’s not that we don’t have escapes, that there aren’t failures. That’s certainly the case. That’s been true for an awfully long time. But we have an elaborate process to validate and verify. We require representations. We do verification, we do inspections. We have big teams in multiple departments that have responsibility for doing their best to ensure that American weapons systems are used for their intended purpose when we sell them or provide them to our partners and allies around the world.
Mr. Cardin: (17:21)
Let me make this offer, I think this committee can help you in that regards. The jurisdictional battle between defense and state sometimes presents challenges. States has the principal role for a good reason. There’s some legislation that I’ve authored that would help in that regard. I would hope that you would engage us to give you the tools you need to take on sometimes the military aspects of the Defense Department that may not be as sensitive to these values. That’s just-
Secretary Pompeo: (17:50)
Senator, I appreciate that very much. I do think the State Department is the proper place to lodge the primary responsibility for that activity. I welcome your efforts there.
Mr. Cardin: (18:01)
The GAO recently issued a report that I had requested in regards to diversity. The reports’ title, State Department Additional Steps are Needed to Identify Potential Barriers to Diversity. They point out that from the period from 2002, well before your time, to 2018, we’ve seen a decline of minorities in positions within the State Department. It’s particularly pronounced within the higher ranks. What steps are you taking to implement the GAO concerns?
Secretary Pompeo: (18:31)
Senator I’ve seen that GAO report. I’ve seen the internal work we’ve done. I would characterize it over the last … you were talking about from 2002 over the last decade, roughly, as flat. That’s not good enough. That’s multiple parties. This is not partisan at all. We want to get this right. We’ve undertaken a number of things. We have about a third today of our members who are minorities, excuse me, about 44% of them are women. We’ve developed the Pickering-Rangel Program to bring more people in. We had double the applications this year. We have a big team that works on diversity inclusion. We’re almost finished with a major study that was begun now, I think 13 months ago run by Carol Perez, DJHR, to look at what the failures. There’s been a lot of money and effort on diversity inclusion over this last decade with, to your point, relatively good outcomes for acquisition of new talented people, but less so at the senior levels. Trying to identify why we haven’t-
Mr. Cardin: (19:28)
I hope we could work together on that. Last point, just a point, in Western hemisphere on the ranking, I would just urge you to evaluate working with us on the aid to the Northern Triangle, to make sure that they had the help from the United States to deal with the economic issues, which takes away the pressure on migration from the Northern triangle. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Pompeo: (19:48)
Thank you sir.
Mr. Chairman: (19:49)
Thank you, Senator Cardin. Senator Gardner.
Mr. Gardner: (19:52)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you Secretary for your service and being here today. Over the last several years on the Asia subcommittee, we’ve been working together on this committee to shape a new policy toward the Indo-Pacific. The region obviously is burgeoning in population, promising commercial growth, and it’s critical for global security and economic stability. But North Korea continues to seek nuclear weapons and to threaten its neighbors. China is an emerging global power that’s intimidating its neighbors, brutally suppressing its own citizens and attempting to remake the world order in its own image. In Burma, the military is committing grievous a human rights abuses against the minority Rohingya population.
Mr. Gardner: (20:29)
It’s more important than ever that the United States maintains a presence in the Indo-Pacific region, reaffirms alliances, encourages economic cooperation and promotes human rights and the rule of law. The administration and Congress must be united on implementing a longterm strategy that will benefit American national security interests, promote American businesses, and create jobs through trade promotion and opportunities and project American values of respect for the human rights and freedom in the Indo-pacific region.
Mr. Gardner: (20:55)
This includes countering China’s growing militarization of the South China Seas and increasing [inaudible 00:00:21:01] influence in Southeast Asia, as well as ensuring that complete verified irreversible denuclearization is achieved on the Korean peninsula as codified in US law. The United States has always been and will always remain a Pacific power. Legislation like my Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, or ARIA, ensures that the US government will speak with one voice to reassure our allies and to deter our adversaries in the Indo-Pacific region.
Mr. Gardner: (21:24)
In 2018, the Asia subcommittee held a three-part hearing series that we talked about democracy, human rights and rule of law. We found that mass concentration camps for Uighur Muslims necessitated a serious response from the US and the international community, that crackdowns in the Tibet autonomous region are intensifying, while Beijing continues to refuse negotiations with the central Tibetan administration, that human rights defenders in China are routinely jailed and tortured.
Mr. Gardner: (21:49)
I was obviously pleased to see that several Chinese officials were sanctioned for abuses against Uighurs and even in the 11 Chinese entities implicated in similar abuses were added to the Commerce Department’s entity list. But what is the administration doing to address more further global Magnitsky Sanctions and other remedies for these abuses?
Secretary Pompeo: (22:09)
Senator Gardner, thanks. I’m familiar with ARIA. It’s great work. I want to thank this committee and frankly a broader group of Senators for the bipartisan legislation that we had with respect to the Uighurs and respect to Hong Kong democracy as well. It’s very powerful when I can talk to my counterparts around the world and say that I have not only the support of Congress, but bipartisan, almost unanimous support on our policy with respect to securing freedom against the threats that the Chinese Communist Party is presenting.
Secretary Pompeo: (22:37)
As for what we will continue to do in Western China with respect to the horrific human rights violations that are taking place against the ethnic minorities there, I don’t want to get in front of the final decisions, but you can rest assured that there are further actions, including further actions with respect to human rights violations that the Department of State and Department of Treasury are working to complete.
Mr. Gardner: (23:01)
Mr. Secretary yesterday, I don’t know if you had a chance to see some of the hearings in the House of Representatives regarding some of the tech companies operating in the United States. I’ll read you some of the comments they made when asked whether or not China is stealing information from them.
Mr. Gardner: (23:18)
Apple CEO, Tim Cook said he had no personal knowledge about Chinese technology theft. Jeff Bezos has no firsthand experience, beyond knockoff products. Google CEO has said that they didn’t have any experience, later had clarified that remark. Can you talk a little bit about tech and China and what you see, what’s happening? Is it true that there’s no Chinese technology theft of US companies?
Secretary Pompeo: (23:46)
Boy, they need to get out more. I mean, there’s a long history, decades long history of Chinese intellectual property threat, including against technologies. I hear it. It’s sometimes the case you hear it privately because there’s continued threats made against their businesses that are operating not only in China, but threats to businesses that are actually working in other parts of Asia and Southeast Asia as well. The Chinese communist party is completely willing to bully and to threaten to get companies to behave.
Mr. Gardner: (24:21)
Do you work with these tech companies at state Department on intellectual property theft, cyber attack, those kinds of things.
Secretary Pompeo: (24:27)
We do. We work closely with them. On the side of protecting cyber, we’ve actually had some good work where we’ve worked alongside each other on important projects where we have reduced risk. I thank them for that. But the idea that anyone in the tech space could not know of what the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to steal and the cyber attacks they’re making seems incredulous to me.
Mr. Gardner: (24:47)
In March of this year, as it related to some Chinese misinformation and the dissemination of misinformation when it came to the COVID-19 propaganda China was spreading, I suggested the National Security Council set up a task force at the White House to counter that disinformation. Are the tech companies doing enough to combat Chinese disinformation?
Secretary Pompeo: (25:11)
No, there’s always more that they can do. There’s more we can do as well. On that particular front, I must say I actually think the world mounted a very effective counter campaign against the Chinese disinformation. As I’ve traveled and as I spoken to my counterparts, I think the world understands that this virus emanated from China, from Wuhan in particular. I think the world understands that the Chinese Communist Party showed up with PPE that didn’t work and covered up what they knew about that when they could have prevented this spread. I think the Chinese efforts at disinformation there actually failed in this case.
Mr. Gardner: (25:44)
The Taiwan situation, I wanted to just ask a question about bilateral trade agreements and opportunities for Taiwan. Yesterday, I sent a letter to US trade representative, Ambassador Lighthizer, asking for the US to begin engaging in a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan. Can you talk a little bit about the administration’s pursuit of such an agreement?
Secretary Pompeo: (26:07)
Senator Gardner I’d prefer to leave that to Ambassador Lighthizer to talk about that. We’re aware that there’s great interest in this. The State Department will have its part in that. But our primary work with respect to Taiwan is different from the trade piece of this. We’ve been diligent about making sure that we honored the commitments that we have made to the people of Taiwan, including proven arm sales that are important, so that the Taiwanese can engage in the activities that they need to do, so they can protect their democracy.
Mr. Gardner: (26:35)
The administration’s goal of complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remains?
Secretary Pompeo: (26:41)
Mr. Gardner: (26:41)
Mr. Chairman: (26:44)
Thank you, Senator Gardner. Senator Shaheen?
Ms. Shaheen: (26:47)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Secretary, for being here today. Were you involved in the decision to withdraw troops from Germany?
Secretary Pompeo: (26:55)
Ms. Shaheen: (26:57)
According to Secretary Esper, 6, 400 of those troops, so over half of those who will be removed from Germany will be coming back to the United States. They’re not going to be going to parts of Europe to deter Russia, to parts of Asia, to deter China. In fact, the only country that has publicly supported the removal of US troops from Germany, to date, has been Russia. Can you share with us whether the impact of this decision on our efforts to counter China and Russia was taken into account? Was there any strategic assessment done to support this decision?
Secretary Pompeo: (27:39)
Senator Shaheen, thanks for the question. Of course there was. We were very involved at the strategic level. Obviously the troop level decisions and the like are primarily the Department of Defense and the President’s role. You characterize the folks who were coming back to the United States as somehow being off the field. That’s not the case. These units will participate in rotational activity. They’ll be forward deployed. They won’t be stationed or garrisoned. But make no mistake about it, they will be fully available to ensure that we can properly prosecute the challenges we have from the global powers. [crosstalk 00:28:16]
Ms. Shaheen: (28:16)
Well, Mr. Secretary, I assume that all of our troops who are in the United States are available to be forward deployed. Now I recognize that there are certain training that needs to be part of them before they are deployed. But I guess I don’t understand and was the effect of diplomatically alienating Germany, who is the largest and wealthiest country in the EU, who has been a historic strategic ally. Was that also taken into consideration?
Secretary Pompeo: (28:50)
This is personal for me. I fought on the border of East Germany when I was a young soldier. I was stationed there.
Ms. Shaheen: (28:55)
Yes, I’m aware of that. Your unit is coming back to the United States.
Secretary Pompeo: (28:58)
I know it. It’d been back once before to Fort Polk, and then it went back to Germany. When I was there, there were six figures of soldiers there. Germany’s no longer a frontline state. As for our strategic effort, General Secretary Stoltenberg, NATO Commander, was very much in the process of helping us think this through. I saw comments out of Russia this morning that are different than you described, that viewed the actions that we took as threatening, because we will have soldiers that are deployed closer to the Russian border.
Secretary Pompeo: (29:27)
Yes, this was a thoughtful process. The military piece of this run out of the Pentagon largely, but State Department was fully involved in the strategic pieces of this. I am very confident that our mission to deter Russia, the NATO mission to deter Russia, we are still fully capable of executing. The precise number was 200,000 early, about 100 and some thousand when I was there. Conditions have changed around the world and our forces need to be repositioned to appropriately confront today’s challenges.
Ms. Shaheen: (29:55)
Well, I would just read from a report in Bloomberg that quotes Dmitry Peskov, who is the Press Secretary for Vladimir Putin. Who says that, and I quote, “The fewer American soldiers on the European continent, the calmer it is in Europe,” Peskov said, answering a question on planned US troop reductions in Germany. That doesn’t sound to me like they think that this increases the threat from Russia.
Ms. Shaheen: (30:22)
But I’d like to go on to another issue, because I want to follow up on the question that Senator Mendez raised about the reports on bounties that Russia has put on our troops in Afghanistan, by the Taliban. There was a report last night that said that State officials have secretly warned Russia against bounties on our troops, against killing our troops. What more do you think we should be doing to address that, to prevent the Taliban-
Ms. Shaheen: (31:03)
… you doing to address that, to prevent the Taliban and Russia from trying to murder our troops in Afghanistan?
Secretary Pompeo: (31:11)
So, there are many things and we’ve been engaged in them consistently. There’s intelligence collection, so that if it happens, we can identify, stop it, make sure that the actual tactical event doesn’t take place. That’s the task of not only DOD Intelligence Services, but our broader intelligence services. Our diplomats to make very clear our expectations and set a set of red lines. And then we have our larger Afghanistan policy. It’s not just Russia that has been underwriting the Taliban for all these years. I know there’s an awful lot of focus on that in this town, but let me tell you at the State Department and Department of Defense, we’re worried about Iranian support to the Taliban, we’re worried about Gulf money coming to the Taliban, we are worried [crosstalk 00:31:49]-
Ms. Shaheen: (31:49)
I totally agree with that.
Secretary Pompeo: (31:50)
We are working diligently against every one of those threats, both diplomatically and from a security perspective to protect our soldiers. And then finally to protect our soldiers further, we’ve been working diplomatically to get peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We have a ceasefire that began at the start of Eid al-Adha. We’ve now had a significant prisoner exchange. Since February 29th the agreement we entered into we haven’t had a single attack against an American soldier. This is the finest in American diplomacy, and I’m incredibly proud of what my team has done. My State Department team has done to protect American soldiers.
Ms. Shaheen: (32:24)
So do you think it would be helpful for President Trump to talk to Vladimir Putin and tell him that he needs to back off in terms of paying the Taliban to kill American troops?
Secretary Pompeo: (32:38)
I always leave to the president, what he wants to say to other leaders. I don’t think there’s any doubt in the mind of every Russian leader, including Vladimir Putin about the expectations of the United States of America, not to kill Americans. I can promise you that the 300 Russians who were in Syria and who took action that threatened America, who are no longer on this planet, understand that too.
Ms. Shaheen: (33:01)
When you were here last time, we talked about the potential for negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, that was before an agreement was reached. There was an exchange that you and I had about the role of Afghan women in any talks with the Taliban and you said that Afghan women should fend for themselves. Well, we’ve seen the outcome of our reticence to support Afghan women, the agreement between the US and the Taliban failed to mention the rights of Afghan women. And it contains no guarantees for their continued constitutional protection. Is the policy to have Afghan women fend for themselves consistent? Do you believe with the legal mandate for the US to support them. And I quote “the meaningful inclusion of women in peace talks as directed by the Women Peace and Security Act that was signed into law by president Trump?”
Secretary Pompeo: (33:58)
I’d have to go look and see what I said. No, we’re doing our level best to make sure that we protect every Afghan, male and female. I have seen the at least tentative composition of the Afghan negotiating team. I think you’ll be pleased with it.
Ms. Shaheen: (34:14)
Well, I’m out of time, but the fend for themselves is an exact quote from your statement when you were before this committee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Risch: (34:22)
Thank you Senator Shaheen. Mr. Secretary people always say actions speak louder than words. Do you think these specific action, the United States of America took against general Soleimani sent a message to every country on this planet of what would happen to people who targeted United States soldiers on the battlefield?
Secretary Pompeo: (34:43)
Mr. Risch: (34:44)
Thank you. Senator Romney.
Mr. Romney: (34:46)
Thank you. Mr. Secretary, it’s a pleasure to see you and appreciate you appearing before this committee. I’m one of many who applauds your recent addresses with regards to China. In these, you have called out their predatory behavior, economic, military, geopolitical. And you note that we have to confront China with our friends and allies, if we’re going to be successful in diverting them from their course of predation. It’s a very welcome assessment, a very clear eyed evaluation of China’s intent and their actions, and a statement of what our mission must be with regards to China. It’s also a welcome departure from the president’s fawning praise of Xi Jinping and celebration of agreements that China hasn’t honored. It’s also in my view, inconsistent with actions that we’ve taken that have offended our allies, at a time we need to be drawing them closer to us.
Mr. Romney: (35:49)
One of course is the steel and aluminum tariffs against our friends and allies that I thought were misplaced. I would have rather focused our entire ammunition on China. The other of course is most recently as Senator Shaheen has just indicated that withdrawal of troops in Germany and doing so while expressing and attempt to punish Germany for the fact that they spent approximately one and a half percent of their GDP on their military, as opposed to the 2% NATO target. Even though they’ve indicated that they are on track to get to the 2% number. I have heard from highest levels of the German government, that this is seen by them as an insult to Germany. I can’t imagine at a time when we need to be drawing in our friends and allies so that we can collectively confront China, that we want to insult them.
Mr. Romney: (36:42)
My question is this, however, which is what actions will the administration take to bring our allies together in a way that’s different than what we’ve done in the past? I mean, I know that it’s always lots of talk going on and any administration can talk about all the things happening. But what are we going to do that’s distinct, that’s different, that’s dramatic to bring the nations that follow the rule of law together? So that we can hopefully reach some kind of a common approach or common strategy and how we’re going to deal with China, economically, militarily, geopolitically. And then collectively confront them with the intent of dissuading them from pursuing the course that they’re on.
Mr. Romney: (37:22)
We obviously don’t want to go to war economically, militarily, or otherwise, but we do want to dissuade them. I think that could only happen when we are and as you have pointed out, when we can do that with others. I would note something you said at the Nixon Library, you said quote, “Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like minded nations, a new alliance of democracies.” I think that’s a good idea, but I’m interested in what actions of a new and dramatic nature are you considering, or are you willing to take in order to accomplish the objective you described?
Secretary Pompeo: (37:59)
Senator, it is absolutely the case that to confront the Chinese Communist Party is going to take a global effort. That’s absolutely true. It’s why I talked about this idea perhaps of a new alliance of democracies. What shape that would take, there’s lots of discussion about, I had many conversations with friends in the region. Step one, Senator, to be honest with you has been to awaken the world to this threat for an awful long time, not just the United States, but the whole world saw that there were lucrative opportunities in China. That was basically foreign policy, sell as much as you can, outsource jobs, build supply chains. So I spent my first year in change traveling the world, trying to raise awareness of the threat. I think that’s new and different. You may say it’s not enough, but it wasn’t happening before.
Secretary Pompeo: (38:49)
I went through the list of things that have begun to turn the tide. I will say there are still nations who understand this threat, but don’t feel they are empowered that they’re in a position where they can withstand the threats that come from the Chinese Communist Party. So we are working our diplomats, trying to build out a set of relationships and whether that’s a part of a formal organization or not I’m not sure I know the answer to yet. But to convince them, to convince them that America’s prepared to leap and pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party and when they do, we will be there to support them.
Secretary Pompeo: (39:19)
So I could list you… We have some 26 lines of effort at the State Department and probably an equal amount at the Department of Defense, all aimed centrally at building out this old set of alliances in Southeast Asia and more broadly with our five vice partners and with the Quad to build out a set of commitments that can robustly communicate to the Chinese Communist Party, that enough, and you have to behave on the global stage. If you want to behave on the global stage, you’ve got to do it under a set of rules that has created so much prosperity around the world. That may be unsatisfying Senator Romney, but it’s still a real work in progress to get everyone fully aligned.
Secretary Pompeo: (39:57)
I mentioned the EU dialogue, very important. Foreign minister Borrell, high representative Borrell asked me if we would have a dialogue with them on China. That took a lot of effort to get 27 EU nations to say, “Yes, this is something we’ve got to confront, identify as a systemic rival.” There’s lots of spade work that goes into what seems pretty simple I suppose.
Mr. Romney: (40:18)
I think it’s the most important work that we will be doing as a country and as an administration, as we face this challenge. Just a parenthetical comment that comes to mind as you’re speaking and that relates to a discussion that was held earlier with regards to tech companies that Senator Johnson raised. I know there’s great interest sometimes politically to go after some of the big tech companies, Google, Amazon, and so forth and Facebook and berate them for their market power. If they violate American antitrust laws, why that’s totally appropriate.
Mr. Romney: (40:49)
But I would note that we’re in a global competition and China has been successful in driving a lot of Western companies out of business. They’ve not been successful in driving companies like these out of business. These are thriving and succeeding. The last thing we ought to be doing is trying to knock down businesses in the United States that are succeeding on a global stage. So we need to be careful not to flex our muscle that berate those entities that are successful and are beating China. I mean, Alibaba would like to replace Amazon. TikTok would like to replace Instagram. So it’s just an area of concern. I hope that you’re able to point these things out to other members of administration who cared deeply about that. Finally, were you surprised by the fact that what was it? 53 countries supported China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. Did that shock you as it did me?
Secretary Pompeo: (41:42)
I was surprised and dismayed.
Mr. Romney: (41:45)
Thank you Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Risch: (41:47)
Thank you Senator Romney. Senator Coons.
Mr. Coons: (41:50)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member for holding this important hearing today. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Let me just start with two specific issues if I can, that I think are important. I want to associate myself with a number of other areas that have been explored, but let me touch on these two. I’m working with members of this committee and your department to resolve terrorism related claims against Sudan, which is in the middle of a critical democratic transition. To provide justice and compensation for over 700 terror victims and their family members, and to move our bilateral relationship forward, after 30 years under the brutal dictatorship of Omar al- Bashir. I just want to urge you and the administration to do everything you can to support Prime Minister Hamdok and to make sure that we seize this opportunity to bring real justice to the victims and their American families and foreign nationals involved. And to build a new democratic partner in the region. Have you personally engaged on this issue? And can you commit to working transparently with Congress as we try to find a solution urgently.
Secretary Pompeo: (42:58)
Thank you for your work. This is really important. We’ve proposed that there’s a legal peace resolution that would be in legislation that will be before Congress here in the very, very near term. We think it’s the appropriate time to both bring justice to those from the 1998 bombings and get a real opportunity for Prime Minister Hamdok. I’ve talked to him a handful of times. I’ve talked to the leaders there in Sudan. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along often. We all know the history of Sudan and the tragedy there. There’s a chance, not only for a democracy to begun to be built out, but perhaps regional opportunities that could flow from that as well. I think lifting the state sponsor of terrorism designation there, if we can take care of the victims of those tragedies would be a good thing for American foreign policy and I appreciate your assistance in that regard.
Mr. Coons: (43:46)
We have a number of members of this committee with strong interests, and it’s my hope that we can move in a way that respects those constituent interests and also makes progress and doesn’t miss this moment. On the Global Fragility Act, it’s legislation that was bipartisan that I led here with Senator Graham and president Trump signed into law last December. It requires a longterm whole of government strategy to address extremism and instability in fragile States. Now the first deliverable under this legislation, the global fragility strategy is due September 15th. Congress really isn’t looking for old wine and new bottles. So we just urge you to look at the GFA as a tool to rethink our approach to these challenges and improve the way that state AID and DOD work together. How are you using the tools Congress provided in the GFA to address the consequences of this pandemic on development, governance, security? And can you commit that you’ll look hard at and resolve technical issue on the creation of the prevention and stabilization fund, which was designed to replace and improve on the rapid response fund in the statute?
Secretary Pompeo: (44:56)
Senator Coons, I’ll get back to you on the last question that you asked. I’m familiar with it, but not enough to answer your question about I’ll get you an answer briefly. You’re right. I’m tracking the first deliverable. I will say, I saw the first pass at this. You characterized it about right, there wasn’t much that was original in there. I’ve asked the team to go back and take a set of fresh looks to ask for outside views, both folks on Capitol Hill, people who are experts around the world to see if we can’t use this tool that you provided us on a bipartisan basis to actually deliver on the stated objectives of that law. It was important piece of legislation and I don’t want to miss the chance to develop the strategy that can then underpin all the actions we can take once that strategy is… That’s not something we intend to put on the shelf and admire, but something we hope creates operational opportunities underneath that strategy.
Mr. Coons: (45:47)
Thank you. Today is the funeral service for a friend and former colleague Congressman John Lewis. I was struck by a comment made by your former colleague, a former Secretary of Defense General Mattis who wrote following the weeks of protests after the unlawful murder of George Floyd. General Mattis wrote, I’ve watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words equal justice under law are carved into the pediment of the Supreme court and that is what the protesters are rightly demanding. Do you agree with general Mattis? I’m concerned about the general direction of the most senior levels of the state department. This has been raised before. I won’t go through the GAO report, but of 189 ambassadors representing us abroad, only three are African-American, four Hispanic. I recognize that diversity in the department has been a longterm challenge, but I’d be interested in hearing both. Do you agree with General Mattis’ comments and what are you personally doing to mentor the next crop of senior leaders and to diversify the seventh floor leadership team?
Secretary Pompeo: (46:57)
Yeah, I actually think the seventh floor leadership team, my entire communication. See my under secretary for management, my under secretary for political affairs, are all part of diversity groups. I’m proud of what our small team has done, but that doesn’t begin to accomplish what we need to get done in the State Department to make sure we get this right. By the way, it is diversity inclusion that is broad based. We need to make sure that we have people from all across America, with all view points, every idea from all across America. We’ve been very narrow in how we have recruited from a certain set of institutions and certain universities.
Secretary Pompeo: (47:31)
We don’t get a full spectrum of understandings of America or of the world. If we are too narrow in how we think about diversity and inclusion. So we’re working hard at it. We built out a set of programs, your point about not having sufficient minority representation in our ambassadorial levels it’s absolutely true. As it was three days ago, a set of about 23 that will be coming to you shortly. We had more than half of them that were female. First time that’s ever happened. So we’re making progress, but I would agree that the rate of change is insufficient.
Mr. Coons: (48:03)
How do you think our own failure to address structural racial inequality impacts our diplomacy overseas and impacts our ability to advocate around human rights issues?
Secretary Pompeo: (48:13)
Well, it’s important that we get it right at home. There’s no doubt about that. I would tell you that we are a beacon for that around the world. I think you can see it in people who want to come to the United States of America, because it’s the freest nation. It’s a place that you have immigrants from all across the world that want to come here. I am a believer that people vote with their feet. They see America still as the greatest, most successful nation. We are not without flaws, but I think as our diplomats travel the world, they can be very proud of our progress along the way.
Mr. Coons: (48:42)
Mr. Secretary I want to ask a last question about our election. President Trump has just tweeted that we should delay it. I’m interested in whether you were able to vote by mail when you served abroad in the army, whether you vote by mail in your home state of Kansas? Whether like many of us who serve in Congress in both parties, you’ve availed yourself as do virtually all of our diplomats and development professionals and armed forces members have the opportunity to vote securely by mail? Have you done so, and do you have any concerns about the security of our election this November?
Secretary Pompeo: (49:14)
Senator Coons? I believe I have voted by absentee ballot. I think while I was a soldier and I also think when I was a member of Congress, I did a couple of times as well. The State Department has some role in making sure we have election security. It’s not our primary focus. So I’ll leave to others those who have that primary centered focus.
Mr. Coons: (49:35)
Is there any reason for us to be concerned that those votes are fraudulent or somehow ineligible to be counted if cast by mail or by absentee ballot by our diplomats?
Secretary Pompeo: (49:43)
Senator I must say having a small group of people vote by absentee ballot is very different than deciding that you’re going to conduct a full in mail ballot and program. Those are two fundamentally different piece. I’ll leave to the professionals to identify the level of risk associated with that. But I also know, and I saw this in my home state of Kansas when you changed the voting rules in close to an election, that’s a difficult task.
Mr. Risch: (50:09)
Thank you, Senator Coons. Senator Rubio.
Mr. Rubio: (50:12)
Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Pompeo: (50:13)
Mr. Rubio: (50:13)
Thank you for coming in and being here. I know election security is not your area of expertise, but I think you can comment on what I’m about to ask. I’m sure you’re well aware of influence efforts on the part of the Chinese and Taiwan to shape Taiwanese policies and the policies of their government. I’m certain as most people on this committee, I hope are aware of how they pressure political figures that they view are opposed to their interests and I think we’ve all witnessed. I think you’ll confirm this worldwide, that China has engaged in efforts of disinformation, particularly for example, about the coronavirus.
Mr. Rubio: (50:51)
I’m not asking you to comment specifically about our country. I think I’m more than anything else asking if China ever decide they wanted to do those kinds of things to us, would you assess they have the capability to conduct disinformation campaign to pressure, American political figures, potentially even members of Congress? The way we’ve seen them do Taiwan and Australia and other places. If they decided they wanted to do that, this is second largest economy in the world. Pretty significant capabilities. If they ever decided they wanted to come after us that way they’d have the capability to do it, would they not?
Secretary Pompeo: (51:32)
Senator, I’ll take it the… If I have just a second to respond to this, they certainly have the capability. I’ve talked about this. The Chinese United front is working here in the United States today. They’re meeting with state legislators. They’re meeting with governors. They’re running one of the things that was taking place out of the console of Houston, where influence operations conducted by their diplomats. I don’t know. We have diplomats from all across the world who come to our offices as members of Congress and talk to us about policy. This what I’m talking about is fundamentally different from that. So they not only have the capability, but the intention of conducting influence operations in the United States. I think we’re a pretty resilient nation. I’m confident that we’ll push back against that. But the world needs to understand that when it’s happening here in the United States, it’s happening all across it’s happening in their countries too.
Mr. Rubio: (52:23)
Well, I think one of the things was most interesting yesterday is the four CEOs of these tech companies appeared I believe before a house committee yesterday, if I’m not mistaken. They were asked a very simple question, do you believe, they were asked, do they believe that China steals technology from US firms? They were asked this question. I think there’s pretty strong consensus across the board, in both parties and in the media and elsewhere that the answer to that question is yes.
Mr. Rubio: (52:48)
The CEO of Apple said they haven’t experienced it. That was his answer. And CEO of Google said, “Neither have we.” And the CEO of Amazon said, “Oh, I’ve read that.” Only the CEO of Facebook said, “Yes, absolutely.” So Apple, Google, and Amazon answer that question by saying either they hadn’t experienced it, or they’ve read that somewhere, but wouldn’t comment further. Why would corporations such as this, some of whom by the way, take it upon themselves to censor truth versus what’s not true and what they believe some people should be saying and not others on the basis of what they judge to be true. Why would three of the four CEOs of the four largest tech companies headquartered in the United States be afraid to answer that question?
Secretary Pompeo: (53:36)
Senator, I can only speculate. I mean, it’s patently clear to anyone who is watching that the Chinese are engaged in intense efforts at intellectual property threat, including to technology.
Mr. Rubio: (53:50)
Would it be fair in your mind to speculate that they try to influence people even in the business community?
Secretary Pompeo: (53:56)
Mr. Rubio: (53:59)
Okay. One more question. I think I know the answer to this as well, but would you agree with the belief, I think again, that’s pretty widespread that China has systematically identified industries and technologies that they believe will be key to the 21st century. They actually wrote it in Made in China 2025, and they have undertaken a systematic effort to dominate these industries while destroying our capability. They’ve done it. That’s what the IP theft is about. The forced transfer of technology subsidies to their firms, blocking access to their markets. There is no doubt at this point that they have a very carefully crafted plan to dominate certain key industries for the 21st century. And to wipe out not just our capabilities in those industries, but everybody else’s, that’s a fair assessment?
Secretary Pompeo: (54:46)
Yes, Senator Rubio. They’ve not been covert about this, right? They’ve spoken openly about how they’re approaching their commercial interests. The only thing that they don’t speak about is that rather than build these industries inside, the tools that they use are fundamentally different than the way a Western democracies do, right? We train our people, we build our businesses, we invest capital in the market. They run state sponsored enterprises, they steal intellectual property, and then they endeavor to undermine the companies and threaten and bully countries around the world into buying their products.
Mr. Rubio: (55:20)
My last question is unrelated to China directly, but as you’re well aware there’ve been press reports, speculations, commentators, and the like that have made much about recent allegations. In one case, the interview the president gave in which they took from it, that the president would be willing to engage in negotiations with Maduro and the Maduro regime in Venezuela. As you understand our policy being in the position that you’re in, could you envision, as long as this administration is an office, we would ever negotiate with the Maduro regime for them to remain in power?
Secretary Pompeo: (55:56)
Absolutely not. Our policy is not to negotiate with him for anything other than his departure from ruling that country.
Mr. Rubio: (56:06)
Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Risch: (56:08)
Thank you. After the next question, we’re going to take a 10 minute recess, but right now Senator Udall the floor is yours.
Mr. Udall: (56:16)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Secretary Pompeo. Appreciate your time and testimony today. I want to start with an important subject, democracy promotion. Earlier this year you call for free and fair elections in Venezuela and Nicaragua. If free and fair elections are held in the current occupants of power lose the State Department, then strongly encourages those leaders to step down from power. I think that sort of thing is an important pillar of our foreign policy on a bipartisan basis, correct?
Secretary Pompeo: (56:54)
Mr. Udall: (56:55)
But I am hearing growing concern in this country about whether we are going to set a good example in our November election. In a recent Fox News interview, Chris Wallace asked president Trump, whether he would give quote “direct answer, that you will accept the election” unquote in November. In response, president Trump said, “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. No, I’m not going to say no. I didn’t say last time either.” During a 2016 debate, he stated, “I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense.” He’s also called voting by mail, as you know, one of the major ways Americans vote, especially in a pandemic. He said over and over again, the elections is rigged, if it’s vote by mail. So Secretary Pompeo if President Trump refuses to accept the upcoming November election due to his lack of faith in voting by mail. Will you respect the results of a certified election as the State Department typically does throughout the world?
Secretary Pompeo: (58:09)
Senator, I’m not going to speculate, he had about 15 ifs in there. You should know, I have said repeatedly in this committee I will follow the rule of law, follow the constitution. I’ve endeavored to do that in everything I’ve done and I’ll continue to do that every day.
Mr. Udall: (58:26)
The president has made this a legitimate question in American’s minds through his own statements. Former Pennsylvania, governor and Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, a Republican, as you know. Says, and I quote here, “I think it’s very sad and very disappointing that with almost five months to go, the president seems to want to try to de-legitimize the November 3rd election. It just seems to me that this may be an indication he’s more worried about the outcome than he’s worried about the fraud” end quote. This is a serious domestic and foreign policy question. We need to set a good example about the peaceful transition of power or else we undermine our entire foreign policy. George Kennan wrote in his long telegram that in order to counter the Soviet Union, quote “much depends on the health and vigor of our own society.” I think that is just as true today about Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran and other authoritarian regimes that we have challenges with.
Mr. Udall: (59:38)
I can imagine a few scenarios that would endanger our society more than a presidential candidate who refuses to accept the outcome of an election. Secretary Pompeo, this year the committee to protect journalists issued a report on the harm this president has caused to journalists first amendment rights. In their summary, the committee States and I quote, “the Trump administration has stepped up the prosecutions of news sources, interfered in the business of media owners, harassed journalists crossing US borders and empowered foreign leaders to restrict their own media. But Trump’s most effective ploy has been to destroy the credibility of the press, dangerously undermining truth and consensus, even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to kill tens of thousands of Americans.” That’s the end of their quote. Are you concerned that instead of promoting press freedom abroad, America’s now providing moral support to authoritarian efforts to crack down on critical media outlets from Russia, to China, to Venezuela and beyond?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:00:56)
No, I’m not remotely concerned about that.
Mr. Udall: (01:00:58)
And over 150,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19 and we mourn their loss like most tragedies. This is one that could have been prevented, like the president’s response to hurricane Maria and other disasters, the federal government’s response has been nowhere near up to the challenge. Instead, this administration is now trying to change the narrative by attacking its own citizens at home and weakening the United States abroad. Across the world, our allies in New Zealand, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and many in Europe have taken the science and the threat of COVID-19 seriously. The result is that they are beginning to return to normal, even countries with very different systems than ours, such as communist Vietnam and Cuba are beginning to reemerge from this deadly disease. Secretary Pompeo, the best practices of these countries is simple, isolate, track and trace, quarantine, and wear a mask. We don’t…
Mr. Udall: (01:02:03)
… isolate, track and trace, quarantine and wear a mask. We don’t even know if the National Security Advisor has met with you or other members of the National Security Council lately. The US has not done those things sufficiently, and here we are. Secretary Pompeo, you and the White House seem to want to blame China for our inability to respond to this pandemic as well as to our allies. It’s true that they’re handling the virus at the early onset was problematic, but we are responsible for our own response. Do you think the President should look to Europe, South Korea, Japan, and other more successful nations to learn about how to better contain this pandemic?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:02:49)
Well, an awful lot to unpack there, senator. First, I would tell you that some of the countries that you identified, you’re looking at the data that they’re putting out, it’s worthless. So when you’re comparing it to data from other countries, not in a Senate hearing, put that data forward is dispositive about the conditions on the ground in those countries. It’s silly and just the facts. They’re not tracking. They’re not counting cases. So we need to make sure we have a shared factual database. Yeah, we should look everywhere to get best practices about how to respond to this. And I know that our doctors, Dr. Birx, who works for me is now over at the White House, working on this. They’ve done that and we’ll continue to do that to make sure we protect the American people in an inappropriate way.
Mr. Udall: (01:03:31)
Chairman Risch: (01:03:31)
Thank you, Senator Udall. With that, the committee is going to be at ease, subject to the call of the chair for approximately 10 minutes. Committee will come to order. Next up, Senator Barrasso.
Mr. Cardin: (01:15:06)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome back, Mr. Secretary. Good to see you again. I appreciated your comments, opening statements specifically related to Nord Stream 2, and I wanted to ask a little bit more about that because we know energy security is essential to national security. Nord Stream 2 threatens European energy security, increases Russian monopoly over the region. To me this pipeline is a Russian trap. Strongly support your recent announcement aimed at stopping this dangerous pipeline. As you know, Congress is working to quickly provide the administration with additional tools to prevent Nord Stream 2 from ever being completed. The last few weeks, both the Senate and House passed their own versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, includes new bipartisan Nord Stream 2 sanctions. Could you talk about the administration’s commitment to opposing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and applying sanctions against those companies aiding in the completion of this Russian trap?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:16:06)
The irony is that this administration is accused by some of not being tough on Russia in this. President Trump personally took on this, he saw that this was a threat, that this pipeline being threat created enormous leverage for Russia, not only against Germany and broader Europe, but Ukraine as well. And so we set about it with good support on Capitol Hill and we got legislation that was appropriate to now have delayed this project significantly. We need further tools. We’re prepared to use those tools should you provide them to us, and we’ve also used our diplomatic capabilities to make clear to countries that we’re going to do the other end too. We’re going to make sure that American LNG can be sold into these countries. We want Europe to have a secure, stable, diverse set of energy opportunities, and our Department of Energy has worked alongside of us to do that.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:16:52)
And our ENR department, Assistant Secretary Fannon, are working to make sure that Europe has real secure, stable, safe energy sources that cannot be turned off in the event that Russia decides they want to do so. We think Nord Stream 2 is dangerous in that respect, and we do everything we can to make sure that that pipeline doesn’t threaten Europe.
Mr. Cardin: (01:17:10)
Mr. Secretary, I like to move now to the Iranian arms embargo. The international arms embargo in Iran, as you know, is set to expire October of this year. To my great astonishment, we are having to persuade the international community of the importance of preventing Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, from purchasing advanced weapons. It’ll dramatically increase the ability of Iran to arm terrorist proxy groups across the region. We’ve seen that more weapons will likely flow to Hamas, the Houthis, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Despite the terrible consequences, many experts believe that any extension of the Iranian arms embargo would be vetoed by Russia, by China. What do Russia, and China want Iran arms embargo, why would they want it to expire? And is the Chinese communist party really willing to betray global security in order to be Iran arms dealer?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:18:04)
Well, I hope not, but I expect so. We’ve been working to convince the Russians to permit this arms embargo to be extended. We’ve been talking to the Chinese for months and months and months, we’re working with E3 counterparts as well. We will submit a UN Security Council resolution in the near future where we will offer to extend this. This was one of the central failings of the JCPOA, was to have only a five year ban on the Iranian capacity of both purchase weapons systems, build out air defense systems, the capacity to protect a nuclear program should they continue down that path, but also to sell weapons around the world and become again, as they were before, one of the world’s largest arms dealers. We’re going to do everything we can.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:18:48)
We believe we have the capacity to do this at the United Nations. We hope that the UN Security Council will conclude that extending this arms embargo is the right thing. In the event they don’t, we’re going to use every tool that we have at our fingertips to make sure that that arms embargo is not lifted on October 18th of this year. We think it decreases stability in the Middle East. We think that would threaten Israel and we’re confident reduces American security as well.
Mr. Cardin: (01:19:11)
And on to religious freedom, Sam Brownback, a former member of this body, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom recently wrote, “Humanity is why religious freedom will always win out against governments and non-state actors seeking to repress and control it.” But we have seen around the world, authoritarian regimes continuing to attempt to restrict religious freedoms and the rights of individuals.
Mr. Cardin: (01:19:35)
Could you discuss efforts by the administration that you’ve taken to promote international religious freedoms?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:19:42)
So we have raised the priority of international religious freedom inside of the State Department. I think that’s happened under President Trump and Vice President Pence, that’s happened all across the administration. We use our diplomatic tools to encourage it. We build resilience. We work with religious communities in many countries to provide them security. The work that we’re doing in Northern Iraq today is a good example. But there’s still lots of challenges. What’s happening in Nigeria to Christians today, what’s happening to Muslims in Western China. Your point about the threat to religious freedom and the exercise of conscience for people of all faiths is under attack in too many places. State Department has an important role to increase the capacity for people to exercise their rights of religious freedom.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:20:28)
We’ve held these two ministerials. We weren’t able to do it this year because of the virus, but we brought people from all across the world. The world’s largest human rights gatherings in all of history were held at the State Department twice around the central idea that people need to be able to exercise this important right, to just have their own faith.
Mr. Cardin: (01:20:46)
And earlier today, move on to China, I think you called the Chinese communist party, “The central threat of our times.” We had your deputy here a couple of weeks ago, had a chance to talk about the issues related to China. To me, they’re working to expand their military capabilities to advance their global ambitions. They want to dominate globally. In the last few months, we’ve seen them increase military aggression, whether it’s near Taiwan, the South China Sea, Japan, we’ve seen incursions, what they’ve been doing in Hong Kong, what they’ve been doing at home.
Mr. Cardin: (01:21:23)
Can you talk about the recent confrontations by China and what that taught us about China’s military ambitions as well as their capabilities, because when we go to secure briefings, we ask lots about their capabilities, not just what they might do, but what they can do. Not will they, or won’t they, but can they, or can’t they?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:21:41)
So I think these actions, and when you say recent, the last 24, 36 months, I think the actions are entirely consistent with what they have been signaling to the world for decades. You might even argue since 1989, but certainly since General Secretary Xi came to power. It’s a desire to expand their power, their reach. They talk about this, they talk about bringing a socialism with Chinese characteristics to the world. And whether it’s, you identified some, but a claim that they’ve now made for real estate in Bhutan, the incursion that took place in India, these are indicative of Chinese intentions and they’re testing.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:22:17)
They’re probing. The probing in the world to see if we’re going to stand up to their threats or their bullying. And I’m more confident than I was even a year ago that the world is prepared to do that. There’s a lot more work to do and we need to be serious about it.
Mr. Cardin: (01:22:29)
Thank you Mr. Secretary. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:22:32)
Thank you, Senator Barrasso. Senator Murphy.
Senator Murphy: (01:22:33)
I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Let me say at the outset, I am very grateful for your proposal to double the budget of the Global Engagement Center. This is of course a center to counteract propaganda outside of the United States was established through legislation written by myself and Senator Portman. And I’m glad that you have recognized the importance of the good work of that center. Though we have spent a lot of time in this hearing talking about many of our concern regarding our adversaries desire to use propaganda, not outside of the United States, but in fact, inside of the United States to influence the 2020 election, so I want to begin by asking you a question about that.
Senator Murphy: (01:23:19)
Russia in particular has sought to weave together stories about US persons and Ukrainian persons over the course of the past year in order to both try to sew chaos and dissent in the United States, but also to try to screw with Ukrainian politics as well. It’s kind of a double whammy for the Russians, and you can see those efforts ramping up as we head into the 2020 election, probably the most active foreign individual pushing narratives about the United States and Ukraine is a Ukrainian legislator by the name of Andrii Derkach. He was the individual that magically came into possession of secret audio recordings of Vice President Biden and then President Poroshenko. He’s maintained, he’s retained government relations council here and I would expect that he’s going to be a pretty active presence in US politics from here to the election. So just a simple question on behalf of my constituents and maybe my colleagues as well.
Senator Murphy: (01:24:27)
Should we view Andre Derkach as a credible source of information?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:24:33)
I’ll answer you a question, but let me just thank GEC real quick, because I think that’s important. Thank you for the compliment. I want to make sure, the only thing I’m worried about with asking for a doubling of the money is to make sure that we can deploy it in a way that, we’ve been pretty successful as it’s grown, but when you expand something at a hundred percent year on year, I have a team driving to make sure that we don’t misuse or waste those resources.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:24:56)
Look, I don’t want to comment on any particular individual like Mr. Derkach, I will say this: we’re taking seriously the threats that Russia will try to engage in disinformation campaigns, that there may be oligarchs that try and engage in this. That may be foreign actors, not just Russian.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:25:11)
We were pretty successful at this in the 2018 election. I say we, not the State Department alone, but all the United States government. I’m confident we will be in this one as well.
Senator Murphy: (01:25:20)
Why wouldn’t you be willing to opine on a specific individual, if you had information to suggest that the source was not credible? It seems as if that is in fact a core function of the US government, if it has information that would suggest malign influence to let Congress and the American people know?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:25:45)
Yeah. So when it’s appropriate, I will, when there’s still work ongoing, and there’s still unsettled intelligence around these things, I’m going to try to be just a little bit more careful, Senator.
Senator Murphy: (01:25:56)
Let me turn to China for a moment. China’s clearly seeking to use the United States’ failure to control COVID as a means to leapfrog us in our traditional leadership position when it comes to global health. Senator Romney referred to this earlier, I think we’ve given two big gifts to the Chinese since the beginning of this outbreak. The first was the President’s just remarkable fawning over China’s early response to the virus 47 different times. He commended China for their response and their transparency. But I think China also is pretty happy with our withdrawal from the WHO. And I understand that you believe, as I understand it, that our withdrawal from WHO is a lever to try to seek internal change and I would disagree, but it also seems to allow for China to step in and occupy that vacuum. And so as you step back and try to articulate this sort of broad strategy to counteract China’s growing influence in the world, how does withdrawal from the WHO counteract the growing influence of China?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:27:09)
So it’s a good question. These are close calls sometimes. We left the UN Human Rights Council. The same argument was made, better to fight from within than to try and reform from outside. I think there are reasonable arguments that can be made on either side. The decision that the President made, and I concur with this decision, went through multiple rounds of reforms at the World Health Organization, our team in Geneva fought for years and previous administrations too, and each time we got reforms, there was no capacity to make that a science-based organization and not a political one. And there comes a point where you’re spending half a billion dollars of US taxpayer money year on year that goes to benefit political actors inside the World Health Organization, and we ultimately made the conclusion that we were more likely to achieve the global health security issues that the United States cares about deeply if we did not participate any further than the World Health Organization. I am not at all convinced that it will be China that benefits from that.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:28:05)
I’m convinced that the world will benefit. We saw it with PEPFAR. We’ve seen it with GaBI. We’ve seen at other places. When the United States leads, and we will absolutely lead, good things can happen in the international health realm.
Senator Murphy: (01:28:16)
It won’t surprise you that I would dispute your characterization of the WHO. It is an international body, there is no way there won’t be some level of politics infecting the decisions that a body made up of historic adversaries will go through, but it is a science-based organization and it is one that is indispensable to the continuation of our efforts to try to prevent the next disease. And I really shudder to think about our ability to stop the next COVID if we are not back into the WHO.
Senator Murphy: (01:28:44)
Finally in the remaining time I have, and this is a complicated question, but again, back to Senator Romney’s line of questioning about the capabilities that we should be developing with our allies to try to counteract China.
Senator Murphy: (01:28:55)
I just don’t think it’s sustainable for this administration or any other administration to try to go around the world, bullying and shaming our friends, and sort of half friends into not doing business with China. We’ve got to have an answer for the things that China is offering. On the technology front, we don’t have a great answer for 5G and we may not have a great answer for whatever China is going to put out there on AI or advanced battery technology. Isn’t this essential to our counter-China strategy, not just to shame other countries into forsaking Chinese technology, but actually to work with our allies to develop our own alternatives?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:29:34)
A thousand percent. Absolutely, Senator Murphy.
Senator Murphy: (01:29:38)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Risch: (01:29:40)
Thank you, Senator Murphy. Senator Portman.
Senator Portman: (01:29:42)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and appreciate your having the opportunity to let us talk to the Secretary of State today. This has been very helpful, very informative. I will say with regard to China and developing technologies with our allies, we have a lot to do right here in the United States to get our own house in order. So we’re pretty good at pointing fingers at China and it’s usually appropriate, but we also aren’t doing much here to protect ourselves. And I want to thank you because you have provided some great help from your career professionals. With regard to our efforts to push back against China taking our technology. And in particular, China has these programs, you mentioned they’ve been doing it for a while, they’ve been doing it for two decades, where they come over here, they find promising research and researchers, they systematically target them. And then they take that research over to China.
Senator Portman: (01:30:32)
And it is military, it is economic, it’s healthcare, it’s everything. And over the last couple of years, we’ve worked hard on this with an investigation, a report, and now legislation called the Securing American Innovation Act. But with regard to the State Department piece of this, your career people that have come and testified before us, said that they need more tools to be able to stop folks who they know are coming here to deal with export control technologies, who were coming over here to actually take, steal our stuff and take it back to China, but they are unable to stop those people from coming in, despite affiliations with the People’s Liberation Army, affiliations with the Chinese communist party. And in many cases, a history of taking research.
Senator Portman: (01:31:16)
So we worked with one of your Pearson fellows, you told me about the Pearson Fellowship, and I took advantage of it last year, Mark Weevils has been working with us. He has a Council Affairs officer, done a terrific job, and we have put together some legislation that’s very balanced, says, “Hey, we want research. We want the American Research Enterprise to benefit from international cooperation, but we don’t want to have this US taxpayer funded research being stolen.” So I thank you for that. I would just ask you, do you agree that these new visa authorities we have in that legislation are helpful to protect taxpayer funded research and intellectual property from our adversaries, including China?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:31:51)
They definitely are. And we need an expanded tool set to make sure that we get this right. We’re making progress. Our teams, working alongside the FBI to identify these risks are working hard on this set of issues.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:32:05)
I’ll say this too, we all need to be candid. When we go back to our home States and we talk to the universities in our States, the education industrial complex is alive and well, we need to be candid with them about what’s taking place in some of these institutions of higher learning all across America and be thoughtful about how we respond to this influence and theft operation that’s being conducted.
Senator Portman: (01:32:28)
That’s absolutely right. There are five different provisions in the legislation. One of them relates directly to our universities and research institutions and to their credit, a number of them have worked with us and we’ve worked with them, Senator Carper and I have taken the lead on this and this legislation, it’s a bipartisan bill, bipartisan supporters. But there are universities and associations that are pushing back hard. And frankly, I think they’re naive and aren’t willing to face up to the threat that’s out there, and it’s a national security threat. I’m glad that over the last couple of weeks that we have had the opportunity to confirm some good nominees-
Senator Portman: (01:33:03)
… A couple of weeks that we have had the opportunity to confirm some good nominees from the Department Of State. And I’m concerned that the backlog built up to the point where you really had a tough time running the department, and there’s more to go. We have more nominees coming up next week. I understand we might have finally the nominee for Ambassador to Japan at a critical time.
Senator Portman: (01:33:18)
One I want to ask you about though, in particular, is Ukraine. Senator Cardin’s not here today, but back in 2014, we went over to Ukraine right after the Revolution of Dignity. And in those six years intervening, a lot of good has happened in Ukraine, but a lot of bad has happened too. And we see it right now. We’re once again at a tipping point. The ceasefire is not holding. I understand there have been about 100 violations of it recently. The Russian aggression continues. Ukraine made a decision six years ago to turn to us in the West, and yet we still have a situation where they’re not getting the support that they need.
Senator Portman: (01:33:51)
So two questions for you. How important is it to get Lieutenant General Dayton confirmed as the ambassador in Ukraine, number one? I think he’s highly qualified. I’m really pleased with that nomination.
Senator Portman: (01:34:04)
And number two, do you agree with what we just did in the National Defense Authorization Bill, which was to have a record amount of lethal aid going to Ukraine? We’ve gone from roughly $50 million to $125 million in that legislation. Do you support that increased funding for lethal aid for Ukraine to be able to defend itself?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:34:23)
I do. The administration does support the increase in lethal aid. It’s important to get the general out there. Although I will say, our Chargé on the ground there today is doing very, very good work. But it’s important to get a confirmed ambassador in that position.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:34:34)
If I might just add this too, we are still thinking, it was a real loss when Ambassador Volker departed. The work that he was doing was important to the State Department’s overall effort in the region. And we’re hoping to get that position with just the right person filled as well, so that we have a full on effort there to help the Ukrainian people maintain their democracy.
Senator Portman: (01:34:55)
Well, we’ll have a chance to talk to Lieutenant General Dayton, at least remotely, when he comes, but he’s done a good job in my view of modernizing their military and knows the Ukrainian issues inside and out. And he is the right person at the right time, and I’m pleased he’s going to step up and do it. It was a good choice.
Senator Portman: (01:35:13)
With regard to Germany. Just my point of view, for what it’s worth, not asking you a question here particularly, but I think moving troops out of Germany is a good idea if they stay in Europe. And in particular, Poland has been asking for years now to allow US troops to come to Poland. Even offered us a base. I was there several years ago where they agreed to pay for the base. I don’t know if that’s still an offer. But the Baltics, Eastern Europe in particular, it seems to me that’s the appropriate place to move those troops. And I agree that Germany is not the right place for the number of troops that we have. Rather, they should be closer to where the action is, and frankly, the countries that are at most risk right now. So I don’t know if you have any comment on that, but I would hope that they will be able to stay in Europe.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:36:00)
Senator, the only thing I’ll add, I’ll leave it to [inaudible 01:36:03] to talk about exact dispositions and numbers in particular countries, but with respect to Poland, we don’t yet have our Defense Cooperation Agreement quite done. And so the State Department’s working diligently with our DOD colleagues to get that done, so that in the event the Department of Defense makes that decision, the president concludes it’s the right thing to do, we can put those forces in there in a way that protects them as well.
Senator Portman: (01:36:25)
Finally, just on Global Engagement Center, thanks to Senator Murphy for raising those issues, he asked the same kind of questions that I would have asked. Lea Gabrielle, in my view, is doing a terrific job with trying to reorder and take the DOD money. It’s now going to go directly to you and use it more effectively. We, of course, agree with you that that needs to be well spent.
Senator Portman: (01:36:43)
There is a timely example on this. The United States, under your leadership, has provided $2.3 billion of congressionally appropriated money to help other countries combat COVID-19. And I think we’ve gotten very little credit for it. And I hope that we can do more in terms of talking about what we’re doing that’s helpful. But what’s happened is, instead, China and Russia are spreading disinformation. And we’ve heard about it here in this committee, saying that the virus was created in a lab by Bill Gates, or that COVID-19 was brought to China by American soldiers, other false narratives. Global Engagement Center’s the perfect place to push back on that, and I hope we’re doing that. I don’t know if you have any comment on that.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:37:18)
No, sir. We are working on that. It’s important. I actually think, with respect to COVID, I think the world gets it. I think they know who the bad actor here was. They can’t all say it publicly, but I’m convinced that the efforts, not only that the United States has made, but other countries too, to push back against this disinformation, have been powerful and effective.
Senator Portman: (01:37:35)
Thank you for sharing.
Mr. Chair: (01:37:36)
Thank you. Senator Kaine.
Senator Kaine: (01:37:40)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and Mr. Secretary, welcome.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:37:42)
Senator Kaine: (01:37:44)
The context in which we have this hearing is very, very complicated, and there’s just almost too much to talk about. In the last 24 hours, we passed 150,000 deaths in this country to coronavirus. And in my view, and I think in the view of many, a sizable percentage of those were preventable had the United States handled the pandemic better.
Senator Kaine: (01:38:07)
This morning, the Department of Commerce indicated that the economy, because of COVID, shrunk at the greatest rate ever in recorded history, in the second quarter of the year. And then this morning, the president is suggesting that the presidential election should be delayed. And I sort of want to start there. This is not something that either you or I were prepared to talk about today, because I think it happened in the middle of the hearing. The president sent out a tweet that said, “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?” Not saying it will happen, but raising a question, can a president delay the November presidential election, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:38:49)
Senator, I’m not going to enter a legal judgment on that on the fly this morning.
Senator Kaine: (01:38:54)
Mr. Secretary, you are an honors graduate of West Point. You are a graduate of the Harvard Law School. You were on the Harvard Law Review. I was at Harvard Law School and I went to a lot of Red Sox games. I wasn’t on the Harvard Law Review.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:39:07)
That’s very kind of you, thank you.
Senator Kaine: (01:39:08)
You are one of the most highly trained and accomplished lawyers who were part of this administration. Can a president delay a presidential election?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:39:24)
Senator, the Department of Justice, others, will make that legal determination. We all should want, I know you do too, Senator Kaine, want to make sure we have an election that everyone is confident in. That’s not only for the [crosstalk 01:39:40]
Senator Kaine: (01:39:39)
Are you indifferent to the date of the election?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:39:42)
It should happen lawfully.
Senator Kaine: (01:39:44)
Secretary Pompeo: (01:39:45)
Senator Kaine: (01:39:46)
It should happen lawfully.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:39:48)
Senator Kaine: (01:39:48)
So, for the record, because you may not want to comment on it, but I do think it’s important, a president cannot delay election. The date of the election is established by Congress. It was established in 1845. There is no ability for a president to delay an election. And I don’t think it’s that hard a question or one that should lead to any equivocation by somebody who’s fourth in line of succession to be President of the United States.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:13)
Senator Kaine: (01:40:14)
So let me ask another question.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:15)
Senator Kaine: (01:40:16)
Was Marie Yovanovitch a talented public servant?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:21)
I’m not going to comment on that personnel matter.
Senator Kaine: (01:40:25)
Was she a valuable part of the State Department family?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:29)
Senator, again, the president made the very clear decision that he preferred that she not be our ambassador. It’s fully within his rights [crosstalk 01:40:37] Every one of us that takes on these jobs knows that at any minute we could be gone.
Senator Kaine: (01:40:41)
I’m not asking that. This is not a question about the president’s power.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:46)
Senator Kaine: (01:40:46)
I’m asking you about your opinion of her as a public servant.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:49)
Senator, I didn’t interact with Ambassador Yovanovitch.
Senator Kaine: (01:40:52)
You did not?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:53)
No, not significantly.
Senator Kaine: (01:40:54)
So you don’t consider that you have a-
Secretary Pompeo: (01:40:58)
Senator, I’m not going to talk about this. There will be a place and a time for me to talk about this. And I am looking forward to that. It is not the case that I talk about personnel matters in public. I just don’t.
Senator Kaine: (01:41:07)
You were very willing to tell us what you didn’t like about the Inspector General in response to Senator Menendez’ question.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:41:14)
I was. Very different situation. A very, very different situation. There have been accusations about misconduct and malfeasance, and assertions that I fired someone because they were investigating me. It demands a response. There’s going to be a public report on that.
Senator Kaine: (01:41:32)
I want to make sure I understand your testimony.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:41:33)
This is different and I’ve been steadfast in this. So you’ve asked me about other ambassadors before, too. I haven’t talked about them, who were great and doing wonderful things. I didn’t say that either.
Senator Kaine: (01:41:44)
I’m trying to determine whether you’ve been steadfast or not. Since I have so many State Department employees that live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, who are very, very concerned about whether or not a Secretary of State might have the back of a career professional who is a valued person. You were on a phone call with President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine when the president said about Ambassador Yovanovitch, “She’s going to go through some things.” You know what the president meant when he said that?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:10)
Senator Kaine: (01:42:11)
But you were on that call. That’s been [crosstalk 00:09:13].
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:13)
Yes, I was.
Senator Kaine: (01:42:15)
When he said that about Marie Yovanovitch, did you ever follow up and ask the president what he meant?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:20)
Senator, I am confident that every action we took with Ambassador Yovanovitch was completely appropriate.
Senator Kaine: (01:42:24)
That’s not the question I asked.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:25)
But it’s the truth.
Senator Kaine: (01:42:27)
Well, that may be the truth, but how about answering my question?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:30)
I’m not going to talk about internal discussions of the State Department. You wouldn’t want me to and neither would your constituents, Senator Kaine. They wouldn’t want the Secretary of State to come up here and talk about internal conversations, about personal matters. You know that. That’s not appropriate.
Senator Kaine: (01:42:42)
Well, can you just listen to my question?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:44)
Senator Kaine: (01:42:45)
You were on the phone call. You heard the president say that about Marie Yovanovitch, and my question to you is, did you ask what the president meant about that? Yes or no.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:42:55)
The answer is, I’m not going to talk about either. I guess that you’re asking did I ask the president what he meant?
Senator Kaine: (01:43:00)
Secretary Pompeo: (01:43:00)
I don’t talk about conversations [crosstalk 01:43:01]
Senator Kaine: (01:43:01)
You told me you don’t know what he meant, but I just asked if you asked.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:43:06)
Yeah. I appreciate your question and I hope you can appreciate why I don’t talk about conversations with the president.
Senator Kaine: (01:43:12)
Here was some testimony we heard in this room the other day from your, I believe it’s Executive Secretary, Lisa Kenna, who was here for a hearing about her nomination to be Ambassador to Peru.
Senator Kaine: (01:43:24)
She said in her work with you, the work that her office does, they get correspondence for you. Some they open and sort of categorize and classify before they deliver it to you. And then she said, there’s a second category of correspondence that they don’t open if it’s personal to you, if it’s for your eyes only, if it’s something from another cabinet member. They would not open that, but they would just deliver it to you. But she said there’s a third category of documents that was documents delivered by Rudy Giuliani to you, which didn’t go through the process of being opened, and it also didn’t go through the process of coming to her and having it delivered to you. It came directly to you. What was your response to Rudy Giuliani’s effort to sack Ambassador Yovanovitch? Did you say, “Hey, it’s not your job. This is my job?”
Secretary Pompeo: (01:44:20)
The President of the United States has the unconditional right to have the ambassadors he wants.
Senator Kaine: (01:44:27)
Stipulated for the record, what was your interaction with Rudy Guiliani?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:44:32)
Senator, I appreciate this. I don’t go into great magical effects with respect to how a package came. That’s all silliness. You should know, for the record, that that package was delivered to Capitol Hill by the former Inspector General, who ran frantically to Capitol Hill and made it big news. It made big news.
Senator Kaine: (01:44:49)
My time is up. I’m just going to say, you might think this is silly. You might think these questions are silly. But when somebody works for their entire career for the State Department and they are slandered with lies and sacked for no good reason, that sends a message that could not be clearer to other State Department officials. And it may be just a big joke. I mean, hey, look at you, smiling and laughing and calling it silly. I don’t think it’s silly to Marie Yovanovitch or the people who work for you.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:45:26)
I don’t think it’s silly to the United States Department of State to understand that every ambassador, every political appointee knows that when the President of the United States finds that they lack confidence in you, the president has the right to terminate them. It’s that easy. It includes me.
Mr. Chair: (01:45:39)
Secretary Pompeo: (01:45:39)
That’s straight forward. And you should note, I didn’t slander anyone. This was handled appropriately and properly, Senator.
Senator Paul: (01:45:48)
History demonstrates that wars are easier to start than they are to end.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:45:54)
I think that’s fair.
Senator Paul: (01:45:54)
We have agreement. We have agreement. I think the Afghan War is a great example of that. You know, after nearly 20 years of war, many are questioning the mission. In fact, many have been questioning, “What are we doing? What are we trying to do there? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were doing.” This is from five years ago. How long is it going to take? What is our current mission? Why are we in Afghanistan? Do we have a cogent military reason to be in Afghanistan right now?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:46:24)
So the president has given two missions. One is to reduce our force posture, both the risk to our young men and women who are fighting there. The second is to ensure that there’s not a terror attack that emanates from that space. We set about conducting a peace and reconciliation process. We’ve now reduced forces there by about half since their most recent peak. We’re on our way to reduce even further. I’m hopeful that we will get the Afghans to begin their negotiation because President Trump has made very clear his expectation. We’ve entered into an agreement that will go to zero. We’ll get our forces out of there. I think it’s May of next year. We’re looking to do that on terms that make sure we protect America from a potential [crosstalk 01:47:02]
Senator Paul: (01:47:02)
Would you agree that Afghanistan is just one of probably hundreds of places that we potentially have terror threats or radical Islamic threats, and may not even be no longer the primary place?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:47:16)
Hundreds? If you’ll give me dozens and dozens, yes, sir. Absolutely.
Senator Paul: (01:47:19)
Yeah. And do you think that maybe … We talked about in Europe that we had hundreds of thousands of troops in Germany because there was a Soviet Union and they had, I don’t know, 2 million, 3 million people in their army and we had this sort of Cold War standoff. But circumstances have changed and maybe even your opinion has changed over whether or not we need so many troops in Germany. And I applaud that. I think the same is in Afghanistan. It’s certainly changed over 20 years. The war on terror is now and always has been sort of a global one, but I think it may be a 20th century idea that we have to occupy territory so much that we have to have acres and we have to have large bases, particularly in countries that are in prolonged civil war.
Senator Paul: (01:48:06)
But the other question is, is our goal in these locations around the world our national security, or is our goal sometimes muddied by the idea that basically we’re in Afghanistan for the equal rights amendment or for women’s rights, or we’re there for democracy, or making a country out of Afghanistan? Are we there for building roads? We built a $45 million natural gas gas station in Afghanistan. They have no cars that run on natural gas. So we bought them cars that ran on natural gas. They have no money. So we gave them a credit card. My understanding is that that the gas station was supposed to cost a half a million. It cost 45 million and is no longer functioning. So, I mean, is our goal national security or is nation building part of what we should be doing as a country?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:48:57)
I think President Trump’s made it unambiguous. Our mission set there is American national security, plain and simple. I’d add only this: there are times in the world where we are better off if there are democratic nations. The State Department is designed to provide, to build resilience, to do this kind of thing. But I do think our foreign policy sometimes has been overly ambitious about what it is we can accomplish through the use of military force with respect to getting other nations to look more like America.
Senator Paul: (01:49:25)
Well, I think encouraging democracy and being supportive of democracy doesn’t mean we have to pay for trying to institute our image in some other country, because it just doesn’t frankly work.
Senator Paul: (01:49:36)
When we look at trying to end the Afghan War, I think in some ways we are stuck, in the sense that people have decided we can only leave with some sort of treaty with the Taliban, some sort of agreement with the Taliban. I’m sort of the opinion that, in some ways, it might make it worse, because I think that the Taliban aren’t necessarily trustworthy. And if we leave under the agreement that they have to meet certain parameters, which is what we’re looking towards, and then they break those parameters, we’re right back in with a threat to stay in.
Senator Paul: (01:50:06)
I think it’s almost that the threat has to be, and maybe the threat should have been this 20 or even 30 years ago, the threat should be that if you harbor terrorists that are organizing international terrorism, that there will be military repercussions, but those don’t have to be landing 50,000 troops. It might be landing 50,000 bombs.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:50:26)
Senator Paul: (01:50:27)
And I think we haven’t escaped. We’re still stuck in this idea of, “We’ve occupied this acreage and we have to do something with it, and we can’t leave until it’s perfect.” It’s never going to be perfect there. And the only thing I would just exhort you is that, let’s don’t base it completely on that we have to have a perfect deal to leave. I think there’s always the threat that we can come back.
Senator Paul: (01:50:52)
And people say, “Well, there’s 10 Al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan. They might be plotting right now.” You’ve said they are a shadow of themselves. The president has admitted there have been reports that now we are talking dozens, not hundreds, we’re talking dozens, not thousands. Same with the Islamic State. General Lute came and spoke to one of our committees recently, and he said he couldn’t name any group there that he thought had the capability to attack the United States. And he said there was no evidence that the so-called Islamic State presents a threat to the US from Afghanistan.
Senator Paul: (01:51:26)
So I think we do need to be mindful of that, but we do have to work towards finishing it. And the only thing I’d say in the end, because I don’t want to finish this without mentioning that it takes friends of the president. The president has policy. People have to try to fulfill his policy. And I think for a long time, for several years, John Bolton was trying to thwart that. And John Bolton was an enemy of the president’s policy. So I hope the people who are remaining will try to fulfill the president’s policy and get us out of the war in Afghanistan. Thank you.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:51:54)
If I may just take one second, Senator [inaudible 01:51:54], with your permission. Your point, Senator Paul, about the global spectrum of terrorism and the fact that there are dozens of Al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan, I think that’s the central thing that the American people need to understand. Wherever we were 15 or 20 years ago is not where we are today, and our resources, whether it’s our decision in Germany or the decision about force posture in Asia, or Africa, or in Afghanistan, or Syria, or any place else, we need to make sure that it’s updated for the actual threats presented to the United States of America. And that’s what President Trump is driving us to do. So thank you.
Mr. Chair: (01:52:27)
Thank you. Senator Merkley.
Senator Merkley: (01:52:28)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Secretary. I’m going to start with the events that have occurred in Hong Kong and what I really see as a violation of the agreement made between China and Britain. And now that these events, this new Chinese law that really exerts enormous violations of civil rights in Hong Kong has occurred, should we extend asylum and visa opportunities to those who are being persecuted by the Chinese in Hong Kong?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:53:07)
We’re reviewing that. We’re considering it. The British have made a good decision. The Australians have made a decision. They’re going to accept up to hundreds of thousands of people. We’re looking at how best we might accomplish this, and consistent with making sure that … We always want to encourage people to try to work from within to the extent they can, as well. And so it’s important that we get this right. And the president is actively considering how we ought to treat those who seek asylum coming to us from Hong Kong, or to grant a visa program that surrounds that.
Senator Merkley: (01:53:45)
Well, it sounds like you’re open to the opportunity and are reviewing it. And I do feel like there are folks who will be highly targeted and they are concerned about being locked up for the rest of their lives. Young folks, 18, 20 years old, in Chinese prisons.
Senator Merkley: (01:54:02)
Do the events in Hong Kong change our perspectives on Taiwan, or make us think about ways to be more supportive of Taiwan? We obviously do a lot of arms sales and so forth, but should we be more active in supporting Taiwanese participation in international institutions?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:54:24)
Senator, they are different situations. There was an agreement with Hong Kong. Taiwan, they are different. But I think it’s fair to say that the Chinese Communist Party views them as the same. Right? If you ask the Chinese Communist Party, they would both view them as part of their territory. And so that requires diligence. And your question about international organizations, not only the team that I have assigned to that, but the regional bureaus as well, are working on multiple fronts. We took a run at this in the World Health Assembly now a couple of months back, and we’ve taken this on at the United Nations to make sure that Taiwan is represented in every place that it’s appropriate, that they be represented as part of formal and informal international gatherings.
Senator Merkley: (01:55:10)
There’s a longstanding convention that the President of the United States should not meet with the President of Taiwan because it would offend China. Do you agree with that longstanding convention?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:55:20)
Senator, if I may defer that, I’m happy to have a conversation with you about it.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:55:28)
Here’s what I’ll say with respect to Taiwan. There are a series of understandings that have been long-held, multiple administrations, multiple parties. We intend to continue to honor that. We now understand the Taiwan Relations Act and the obligations that the United States government has with respect to that. We’re working to recognize the changes that General Secretary Xi has made with respect to this, and we want to make sure we get this right.
Senator Merkley: (01:55:51)
Saudi Arabia has been abetting the flight of Saudi nationals who have done horrific crimes in America. And so really two questions. Do you agree that this effort to sweep people out of our country, who have done or are charged with doing horrific things before they can be tried, is unacceptable? And do you agree if it continues to occur, the US should use significant diplomatic consequences for Saudi Arabia?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:56:21)
Yes to both questions, Senator.
Senator Merkley: (01:56:23)
Senator Merkley: (01:56:25)
So there is the report that … Well, we’ve done several things in regard to the situation in Xinjiang and the Chinese incarceration, basically slave camps, of a million Uighurs, and we’ve done some recent things and I applaud those recent steps to impose sanctions to block exports that were done with forced labor in China. But I also feel like there’s another narrative that has undermined kind of the effectiveness of this. And as we’ve heard about the president’s comments in November, 2017 trip to China, where he indicated that President Xi should go ahead with building concentration camps, and then again in June, 2019, a year and a half later, President Trump’s conversation with President Xi, saying again, basically, they should go ahead building the camps and it’s the right thing to do, I think it’s absolutely the wrong thing to do, and we have done some, as I noted, some steps that suggest that. But should we be more robust at every level in condemning the Chinese enslavement of the Uighurs?
Secretary Pompeo: (01:58:01)
Senator, I think the answer’s yes. I’m proud of what we’ve done. The way that the United States has responded. Not only the responses we’ve taken directly, but the work we’ve done around the world to convince the whole world of what’s taking place there. I’ve been disappointed to see Muslim countries not respond when there are often significant Muslim populations being impacted there in Western China. We’re urging them to take this on in a serious way.
Secretary Pompeo: (01:58:31)
And then I guess the last thing I’d say is, I think with the objective of changing the behaviors that are taking place there, this is an important economic region, and so the things that we’re endeavoring to do, it’s important we get the human rights piece of this right, it’s important that we get the individual sanctions piece of this right. But it is very important, and I’m really happy with the work we’re making to convince businesses, not just American businesses because it’s an international place of business, that they should really look hard at their supply chains, not just their direct supplies, but their supply chains, and what’s taking place there. I think if we get that right, we have the opportunity to change what’s taking place there.
Senator Merkley: (01:59:12)
A quick point and a final question, because I’m running out of time. The UN fact finding mission on Rohingya, the US Holocaust museum, a law group engaged by the State Department to investigate atrocities have all found strong evidence of genocide by Burma. I really hope the United States will declare it to be genocide because it is, and it would strengthen our representation and advocacy for human rights in the world.
Senator Merkley: (01:59:45)
But I want to turn to Honduras in my final question. The State Department Human Rights Report talks about extra judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention, violence against indigenous Hondurans, violence against LGBT communities, and in addition, we had, in October, a US federal court find that the President Juan Orlando Hernandez was implicated as a co-conspirator in widespread drug trafficking and money laundering.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:00:17)
Senator Merkley: (02:00:18)
And there’s huge reports of systemic corruption and human rights abuses. In the context of all of this, is it time to reevaluate our relationship, which has been quite cozy, with the President of Honduras?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:00:30)
Senator, we’re constantly demanding that the leadership in Honduras take these set of facts on board. We’re well aware of what’s taking place, and like in too many countries around the world, we have not had the effect that we desire. We’re working on it.
Mr. Chair: (02:00:48)
Senator Young: (02:00:49)
Senator Young: (02:00:55)
Mr. Secretary, welcome. Good to have you here.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:00:58)
Senator Young: (02:00:59)
In response to media coverage over the last few days in the Washington Post, NBC News, the Daily Beast and my hometown newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, I’d like to bring up the situation of Peter Kassig and three other Americans who lost their lives at the hands of ISIS. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to request the following columns from the Washington Post, Indy Star and NBC News be added to the record.
Mr. Chair: (02:01:26)
They’ll be included.
Senator Young: (02:01:29)
Mr. Secretary, you may recall meeting with the Kassig family last year, but as a brief refresher: in October, 2013, Indiana native and former army ranger, Peter Kassig, was on a mission of mercy. He was delivering humanitarian aid to suffering people in Syria. He was taken hostage by ISIS, and sadly, after months of torture and incredible hardship at the hands of these ISIS terrorists, and in spite of his embrace of Islam, he was brutally beheaded. Sadly three other Americans, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller, also lost their lives at the hands of ISIS murderers. I know each of their stories are familiar to other members of this committee.
Senator Young: (02:02:22)
Since that time, some of the murderers, known as The Beatles, have been killed in US-led drone strikes, but others remain at large. And I know you agree they must be brought to justice. I believe that the United States government should work tirelessly, independently and with the cooperation of allies to hunt down the killers of these Americans and bring them to justice here in the United States of America. Mr. Secretary, do you agree with me?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:02:55)
I do. And you should know that the President of the United States agrees as well.
Senator Young: (02:03:01)
What efforts can the State Department and our missions overseas take to bring this about?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:03:06)
So it’s a broad effort. I think we’re making progress. The Department of Defense, their intelligence assets, the broader set of US intelligence assets are all aimed at making sure we understand and then working with important partners too, who want justice, but have a different set of rules about how to think about that. So working to convince them that proceeding to bring them to justice is the right approach. I am very hopeful that we will, in the coming weeks, have a good outcome here.
Senator Young: (02:03:39)
You alluded to different perspectives that exist out there. What precise obstacles stand in the way and what can you do to overcome them?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:03:47)
So an example, and I’ll stay away from this particular incident, but an example is, when we make a decision from time to time to bring someone back from someplace else, either through extradition or through another legal process, the country-
Secretary Pompeo: (02:04:03)
The legal process. The country will say because we have the death penalty or because of a certain set of rules we have here, they won’t either permit that to happen or share the information that we might need to complete a successful prosecution, and one of our roles is to make sure that those countries will permit us to do that.
Speaker 1: (02:04:17)
I do want to interject and it’s important to note here, though you were just using an example, it’s my understanding that the four families are no longer pursuing the death penalty for these terrorists. Their hope is that this shift will alleviate any challenges whatsoever, that we’ve encountered with the British Government and their justice system in allowing the prosecution to move forward in the United States.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:04:43)
I appreciate that Senator, and that’s important. Yeah, I’ll leave it at that. Yes, sir.
Speaker 1: (02:04:49)
I am committed to working with you, and I suspect there are other members of this committee who will join me in that effort to ensure that justice is delivered and delivered here in the United States. Will you commit to working with me in this committee to ensure that we pursue this matter accordingly?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:05:07)
Of course. Yes, sir.
Speaker 1: (02:05:09)
All right. Thank you [inaudible 02:05:11] to withdraw from the World Health Organization. [inaudible 02:05:18] the role in [inaudible 02:05:19] countries, particularly the [inaudible 02:05:23] government in China, has been growing at the UN. It’s expanded its role in a range of UN [inaudible 02:05:31] organizations, 15 of those agencies, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Telecom Union and the UN Industrial Development Organization. [inaudible 02:05:45] comparison, a French national leads two specialized agencies, the IMF and UNESCO, and the US leads just one, the World [inaudible 02:05:57] national does lead the UN Children’s fund, the World Food Program, which are large and prominent [inaudible 02:06:04].
Speaker 1: (02:06:04)
So, building on Senator Murphy’s questioning, why don’t we look at the World Health Organization? And I ask you, Mr. Secretary, what implications does this losing of ground within UN policies have on advancing US national security interests and other [inaudible 02:06:27] priorities that-
Secretary Pompeo: (02:06:29)
Significant. And it is at least 15 year long slide that has taken place and growth of the Chinese Communist Party’s influence in these institutions and organizations. We’ve done a couple of things to turn this around. We had real success at the World International Property Organization, right? [inaudible 02:06:46] thought they had the fast track [inaudible 02:06:47] American candidate, but it was the candidate that we believe has an understanding of intellectual property in the same way that freedom loving democracies do. And we crushed them. And it’s been amazing. We built up coalitions with the Brits, the Australians and then built it [inaudible 02:07:02].
Secretary Pompeo: (02:07:03)
We’re asking for about $20 million in this budget to take the team that we built there and make it a permanent team that is focused on these major elections for these 15 institutions. And then there’s another set that are slightly different, but still very important. Second set of operations, which is it’s not [inaudible 02:07:21] organization’s. They have big bureaucracies underneath them. And we are sadly inadequately represented at every level inside of these international bodies and it matters, it matters [inaudible 02:07:32] of law world ought to be conducted.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:07:38)
I’ve actually asked for it that is [inaudible 02:07:40] we’ve had opportunities. We just [inaudible 02:07:41] but we were offered a place and didn’t put anybody forward. [inaudible 02:07:46] need to make sure we get it right [inaudible 02:07:48] here and two years, we’ll be in a better place than we are today. And I hope we’ll have the resources, but that’s a lot of a focus issue and I’ve cleaned that up materially.
Speaker 2: (02:07:56)
Senator Perdue: (02:07:57)
Thank you [inaudible 02:08:01]. I want to correct the record on a couple of things here that have been said this morning. First of all, I believe that Secretary Tillerson’s two predecessors oversaw probably one of the most major withdrawals in foreign policy from the global stage that America has ever seen. And it created a power vacuum that allowed Iran, North Korea, Russia.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:08:28)
[inaudible 02:08:28] was frankly, we’ve had opportunities, we just didn’t put … We were offered a place and didn’t put anybody forward. That’s not the right way to go and we need to make sure we get it right. I’m confident that in a year and two years, we’ll be in a better place than we are today and I hope we’ll have the resources to do that. It’s a little bit of a resource issue, but it’s a lot of a focus issue and I think I’ve cleaned that up materially.
Speaker 2: (02:08:48)
Senator Perdue: (02:08:49)
Thank you [inaudible 02:08:53]. I want to correct the record on a couple of things here that have been said this morning. First of all, I believe that secretary Tillerson’s two predecessors oversaw, probably one of the most major withdrawals in foreign policy from the global stage that America has ever seen. And it created a power vacuum that allowed Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, to step into that vacuum and actually during that period of time, created a physical caliphate that allowed the rise of ISIS in Syria. So [inaudible 02:09:28]let’s say in January of 2017 Mr. Secretary, I believe that the world was more dangerous than any time in my lifetime.
Senator Perdue: (02:09:35)
We faced five threats across five domains, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, and terrorism across the air, land and sea and all of a sudden we woke up and realized that our would-be adversaries have been developing capabilities in cyber and space that the prior administration had not really warned us about. So we woke up and I think we’ve all now figured out in the United States. I think there’s consensus on both sides. For the last 50 years, with all good intentions, we got China wrong. I think there’s a general awakening that you have had three other cabinet members along with yourself, make tremendous policy speeches here just in the last month.
Senator Perdue: (02:10:15)
And I’d like to quote some of that, that you wrote about, but you had Secretary O’Brien, our national security advisor O’Brien talk about ideology, FBI director Ray talk about espionage, attorney general Barr talk about economics. And you talked about the warning here. I’m going to quote, this is your quote. “We had a very clear purpose in those four speeches. A real mission. It was to explain the different facets of America’s relationship with China. The massive imbalances in that relationship that have built up over decades, and the Chinese Communist Party’s designed for hegemony.”
Senator Perdue: (02:10:51)
It’s interesting you chose that word because, the Chinese love to quote Confucius. And they quote, one of his famous sayings is, “Just as there can’t be two …” And they do this recently. “Just as there can’t be two suns in the sky, there can’t be two emperors on the earth.” And the word they use for emperor is not benign dictator, which is the most common use of that translation. It’s hegemony. They want to be the hegemony that they feel like they were for 4,000 years. You said further, “Our goal was to make clear that the threats to Americans, that president Trump’s China policy aims to address, are clear and our strategy for securing those freedoms established.
Senator Perdue: (02:11:24)
You went on to saying later in there and closing this out, you said, “Securing …” And I think this is the most important sentence in this speech in my opinion. “Securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time and, America is perfectly positioned to lead it, because of our founding principles, give us that opportunity.” Tremendous statement. That will go down in history. The fact that it’s only 6% of China’s population belong to the Communist Party Mr. Secretary, I would argue that our fight’s not with Chinese people, it’s with the Communist Party.
Senator Perdue: (02:11:58)
There’s a statement from the administration here dated May 26, 2020. It says, “We do not seek to contain China’s development, nor do we wish to disengage from the Chinese people.” Can you articulate what the threats the Chinese Communist Party threaten or makes or represents to our democracy and our freedoms here? And what are we doing [inaudible 02:12:17] as a Chinese strategy as we try to manage during your administration here, as we try to manage this turn in our relationship with China to confront them, to stand up to them, but also to protect our freedoms here at home.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:12:30)
So Senator, there are multiple fronts to this and these aren’t created by the Department of State, they’re created by what the Chinese Communist Party says to your point. President Trump recognized that, he talked about it in his campaign back as far to 2015. We’ve got to get this imbalance corrected. And when we do, there’ll be costs associated with that. We’ve got the largest increase our military buildup that president Trump has led, we’re very focused on an arms control, strategic dialogue that we’re having today. It was in Vienna on the 27th and 28th of this month a few days back.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:13:07)
We know we need China to be part of that too. They’re now a significant nuclear power. We’ve seen what’s happened on the economic front. We see their belt and road initiative. So they’re competing. Senator Rubio talked about their efforts in four or five technologies fairs. This is a multi front campaign. It will take not only the United States government, but the United States citizens to understand this challenge. And then we’ve got to build out the global lines. And last thing I’ll say here is I’ve seen it said that the United States is asking nations to pick sides between China and the United States. It’s fundamentally false.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:13:41)
We’re asking every sovereign country to pick between freedom and tyranny, and that’s the choice every leader’s got to make. And that’s when I go around the world, that’s what I talked to them about. And they all know. They all know that the United States’ the country that they want to be alongside. They all know that freedom and our value system and the rule of law and property rights and the protection of these amendable rights is central to their country, and it’s why I think the tide is turning around the world and that people are seeing the Chinese Communist Party for what it is, the threat to the security of their people.
Senator Perdue: (02:14:11)
I agree with the tyranny freedom. I characterize it a little different, their state control and their self determination. The world is turning into a binary equation. Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba. If you add up all the GDPs of those state controlled countries, it’s probably less than $20 trillion. If you add up the GDP of all the rest of the self-determined and that’s over $70 trillion Mr. Secretary. I want to relate that back to the last question here that Roy that goes to your comments earlier about the number one thing we do. I think you agreed with it 1000% with Senator Murphy, about allies being the answer here with China.
Senator Perdue: (02:14:46)
That a … and this is a huge effort that’s going to take years to develop. But right now we have an opportunity with the quad. Now the quadrilateral security dialogue, this is the United States, India, Japan and Australia, and a great development is happening right now that India is very strongly considering inviting Australia to that exercise Malabar.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:15:05)
Senator Perdue: (02:15:05)
Would you comment on how important this particular group is in relation to the bigger conversation you just mentioned? The fact that the GDP of the quad is more than twice that of China today, is not to be lost on the conversation. Would you just make one last comment on that please?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:15:20)
It’s more populous than China as well?
Senator Perdue: (02:15:23)
Secretary Pompeo: (02:15:24)
These are nations that all have elected leaders, all have democracies, all understand … In different cultures in different settings, I’ll have a central understanding about how a commercial enterprise should be conducted and how a military should engage, and about how security is actually achieved. The good news is, I think this grouping is stronger than it’s ever been. Maybe we were gifted by general secretary Xi, he took actions that caused each of the leaders in those countries to recognize the value of this group.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:15:57)
I meet with them with some frequency, either by phone or in-person. And we’re working on economic efforts together. We’re working on COVID responses together. There’s lots of places where we’re finding common touch points where we can develop a real strength and unity that can in fact provide the bulwark that we can build out from all across he world.
Senator Perdue: (02:16:18)
Thank you Mr. Secretary. Thank you [crosstalk 02:16:20].
Speaker 2: (02:16:20)
Thank you, Senator Perdue. Senator Graham.
Senator Graham: (02:16:23)
Thank you Mr. Secretary I appreciate the good job you for our country and leaning into hard issues forcefully and that we need more of that, not less. When it comes to a UN Envoy for Libya, do you support that we need a new one?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:16:38)
Senator Graham: (02:16:39)
Good. And I’m going to try to get a letter from everybody in the committee to the UN secretary general saying, please appoint a special Envoy and Mr. Secretary, anything we can do to up our game would be great. I know you worked with the Berlin folks and we’ll see if we can-
Secretary Pompeo: (02:16:53)
And we need the rights to [crosstalk 02:16:55] Senator, I know you agree with that. Not just a new one, but the right person as well.
Senator Graham: (02:16:58)
Okay. Thank you very much. The Caesars Act, thank you for using it quickly and in a holding aside sign accountable is a great first step in what I think will be a long journey to punish this regime. Is more coming?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:13)
Senator Graham: (02:17:15)
Thank you. Great job. I talked to General Mazloum yesterday with the SDF. Apparently they’ve signed a deal with an American oil company to modernize the oil fields in Northeastern Syria. Are you supportive of that?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:29)
Senator Graham: (02:17:30)
That’d be a great way to help everybody in Northeastern Syria.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:33)
The deal took a little longer Senator than we had hoped, and we now we’re in implementation, it could be very powerful.
Senator Graham: (02:17:38)
You’ve been terrific in that regard. When it comes to the Afghanistan, is it my understanding correct that any withdrawal from Afghanistan will be condition spaced?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:50)
Senator Graham: (02:17:51)
And the inner Afghan dialogue hopefully will start here fairly soon?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:56)
Senator Graham: (02:17:57)
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:57)
Senator Graham: (02:17:58)
So, I applaud you-
Secretary Pompeo: (02:17:59)
I don’t mean to make light of that. We’re very hopeful that in the next week … I fear that I may have said that once before, but we see the conditions that have not completed enough to ask the, we think there’s a real chance we can [crosstalk 02:18:11] the job.
Senator Graham: (02:18:11)
Well, in case the Taliban are following the hearing, I doubt if they are, I’m pretty hoggish guy on Afghanistan. You’ve been great on foreign policy in general from that point of view. I’d like to end the war too, and I’d like to get the Taliban integrated into a new Afghanistan that respects the rights of women, where everybody can have a say through the democratic process. And the Taliban are part of the Afghan culture, their minority. They’re by no means a dominant voice in Afghanistan, but if we could help Pakistan and Afghanistan achieve a working relationship they’ve never had before on terrorism, we could get an inner Afghan dialogue started.
Senator Graham: (02:18:48)
I am willing to invest in an Afghanistan that has a place for the Taliban, but not to the exclusion of women or religious minorities. So, count me in for your efforts and I very much appreciate what [inaudible 02:19:03] is doing and Adam when it comes to China. Is it fair to say that in 2020, Chinese Communist Party is running concentration camps that house religious minorities?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:19:22)
I’ll be careful about the language. I’ve described it this way Senator, it is the-
Senator Graham: (02:19:28)
Something like a [crosstalk 02:19:28]-
Secretary Pompeo: (02:19:28)
The worst human rights violation that we have seen this century.
Senator Graham: (02:19:31)
Okay. Fair enough. That’s a good description. You closed the Houston consulate down because they were using the diplomatic platform to cheat, steal and lie when it comes to intellectual property?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:19:43)
That intellectual property and other items as well. Yes.
Senator Graham: (02:19:47)
The special status of Hong Kong has been virtually destroyed. Is that fair to say?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:19:52)
Senator Graham: (02:19:53)
And I appreciate you speaking about it and taking action. When it comes to the rule of law, the Chinese Communist Party sees it’s more of a nuisance than anything else.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:20:04)
I think the litter of promises broken across multiple forums demonstrates that they take those agreements for having very little value.
Senator Graham: (02:20:16)
If you got a property speech, you generally don’t build a military base on the contested property, you actually could have some court and work it out. We just passed in the judiciary committee legislation modeled on gesta, allowing Americans who have been victims of the coronavirus to sue the Chinese Communist Party. Do you support that?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:20:39)
I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it.
Senator Graham: (02:20:40)
We’ll get it to you. And please get back to us if you could. Bottom line, Syria is never going to end until we get the entire fabric of Syrian society in a room, working together, the Northeastern footprint we have where we’re working with the SDF who helped us destroy the ISIS caliphate. They did most of the heavy fighting. That gives us leverage. I appreciate you being an advocate for the SDF. I appreciate that you’ve tried to work with the new leadership in Iraq. It’s important that ISIS never come back. It’s important that we have it say about that part of the world. Finally as to Iran, where do you see the Iranian regime in terms of their potency?
Senator Graham: (02:21:38)
Are the sanctions working? And what would you advise this committee to do going forward with Iran?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:21:45)
So Senator, the sanctions have clearly had an impact. It has diminished their capacity to underwrite Hezbollah, the Shia militias in Iraq, but clearly hasn’t achieved the ultimate objective, which is to change the behavior of the Iranian regime. And so, our view is this. We’re happy to see them change, but until such time as they do, we see the best tools to start with the regime of the capacity to inflict terror around the world. And so your support in doing that is very important.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:22:17)
And I talked a little bit earlier, I think you hadn’t arrived just yet about the UN arms embargo that we’re working so diligently to make sure it doesn’t expire in a couple months.
Senator Graham: (02:22:26)
Well, one last topic, and again, thank you. I think you’ve done a very good job from my point of view for our country leaning into really difficult issues so forcefully and with reason. Developmentally, the House $3 trillion bill didn’t have any money for vaccines going to the developing world. The Republican bill has about 4 billion. Our urge you to work with us to try to find a way if we can get a vaccine developed, to get it to the developing world, sort of like what we did with the PEPFAR, because it will do no good to eradicate it here, if we don’t eradicate it everywhere. Would you work with us in that regard?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:23:01)
Yes, we have presented something that we’ve given the name PIPER pro, something that is modeled on PEPFAR that ultimately we think could be very successful if we can get a vaccine, we’re happy to work with you all on it.
Senator Graham: (02:23:12)
Thank you very much Mr. Secretary.
Speaker 2: (02:23:15)
Thank you Senator Graham. Senator Cruz.
Senator Cruz: (02:23:20)
Thank you Mr. Chairman the Secretary welcome.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:23:22)
Senator Cruz: (02:23:23)
Thank you for your testimony and thank you for your service as well. Let’s cover a number of topics. Let’s start with Nord Stream 2. You and I have worked for some time on Nord Stream 2 and stopping the completion of that pipeline. As you know, over a year ago, I joined with Senator Shaheen in passing bipartisan legislation, went through both houses of Congress with overwhelming bicameral, bipartisan support, imposing significant sanctions on companies that participated in laying the pipeline of Nord Stream 2.
Senator Cruz: (02:23:58)
The president signed that legislation around 7:00 PM if I remember correctly on a Thursday, and 15 minutes before that his signature was on the page. The Swiss company that was laying the pipeline announced they were immediately ceasing all pipeline construction activities. So those sanctions worked. Russia has not stopped. They have a pipeline that is 90 to 95% complete. Now the good thing about a pipeline is a pipeline that is 95% complete, is a pipeline that is 0% complete, because it ain’t transmitting anything, till they connect the two ends. It is my intention that they never complete this pipeline.
Senator Cruz: (02:24:37)
Both Russia and Germany continue to press forward aggressively to try to find ways to complete this pipeline. As you know, Senator Shaheen and I again introduced even stronger sanctions to any companies involved in any way whatsoever with the construction of the pipeline. Those stronger sanctions were included in the NDAA that passed this body with overwhelming bipartisan support just last week. And so I’m hopeful as the NDAA moves forward, that we will have those stronger sanctions in effect.
Senator Cruz: (02:25:14)
At the same time, you made an important decision within the state department. Under CAATSA , the administration has the authority I believe, to sanction companies working to build this pipeline. Your predecessor Secretary Tillerson had issued as I understand it a guidance that was widely interpreted as essentially exempting Nord Stream 2, and you made the right decision to rescind that guidance. Can you explain to the committee, the importance of that guidance and what authority the administration has right now today, with no additional legislation to sanction any German company, any other company that participates in any way with completing this pipeline?
Secretary Pompeo: (02:26:02)
Yep. So thanks Senator Cruz. The president made that decision to change that language. It was my recommendation, so I’m not walking away from it, but I want to make sure I’ve [inaudible 02:26:11] the president was fully on board with that change. That language is important because to your point, and this is a little bit too simple, but it was essentially get out of jail free card for those conducting activities surrounding Nord Stream 2 that’s no longer true. And both the state department and the Department of the Treasury have made very clear in our conversations with those who have equipment there.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:26:28)
And we can see that they’re responding as are their insurers, the board of directors, their lawyers all understand the expressed threat that posed to them for continuing to complete work on completion of the pipeline. And we remain hopeful that those who have the capacity to finish this pipeline quickly, won’t be able to do so or choose not to, because of these sanctions. And then we have the task of those that are harder to reach by sanctions, making sure that we do everything we can to stop them. The president’s been so clear about the security threat that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses to Europe. We’ve not been able to convince the Germans of that. So we’re taking action ourselves to try and accomplish that, to preserve security for the European people.
Senator Cruz: (02:27:09)
So Secretary Pompeo, I know you care about this issue. I spent about six hours with the president yesterday in Air Force 1 and Nord Stream 2 came up in considerable depth, as did the president’s frustrations with the leadership of Germany. Let me point out that the state department has a long tradition of sometimes obscure speech, perhaps rivaled only by the Federal Reserve. This is an issue in which ambiguity is not beneficial. And, as you know the Russians are actively pushing disinformation, that there are not going to be sanctions for anyone involved in this pipeline.
Senator Cruz: (02:27:57)
The Russians actively push disinformation that the bipartisan legislation I had introduced previously was not going to pass. That was wrong.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:28:05)
I remember that.
Senator Cruz: (02:28:05)
And we had overwhelming bipartisan support that passed it into law. And so I would encourage I believe under CAATSA , you have full legal authority right now, to make clear and explicitly clear to anyone involved with constructing this pipeline that the consequences of doing so are catastrophic and not worth doing. And so I would encourage the State Department and I recognize you work within an administration, and there may be other agencies that have different views, but if there are those other agencies aren’t right in this matter. And so I urge you to speak with absolute clarity, because it is only that clarity I think that has any prayer of actually stopping the completion of this pipeline.
Senator Cruz: (02:28:53)
And if the pipeline is completed, it will do serious damages to the economic interest and the national security interest of Europe, it will do serious damage to the economic and national security interest of the United States. And it will benefit Putin and put billions of dollars in his pocket.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:29:11)
There’s no need for ambiguity. The president hasn’t been ambiguous about this at all. There was a reason that we made the change in that … That language … Essentially the waiver language if you will, were fully intent of sanctioning those that violate the provisions that are contained there, both in CAATSA and otherwise.
Senator Cruz: (02:29:27)
Thank you. That’s helpful. Let’s shift to another area.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:29:30)
I hope that’s clear enough.
Senator Cruz: (02:29:33)
That last statement had substantially greater clarity, and so I am grateful and look forward to amplifying it loudly.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:29:41)
Thank you Senator.
Senator Cruz: (02:29:42)
Let’s shift to another topic that you and I have also discussed at length, which is Iran snapback.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:29:48)
Senator Cruz: (02:29:52)
I believe maximum pressure should be maximum pressure. That the Iranian regime, the Ayatollah when he says, “Death to America.” That he means it, that when he says “Death to Israel.” That he means it. Under the terms of the Obama-Iran nuclear deal and the UN Security Council resolution implementing it, the United States has the authority to invoke snapback sanctions, if and when Iran is in violation of the deal. We have that authority, even though we have withdrawn from that deal. Iran is now nakedly, openly, flagrantly flouting the deal. They’re not pretending to comply with it.
Senator Cruz: (02:30:28)
It is obvious they are defying it, and they’re telling us they’re defying. Will the United States invoke the snapback sanctions which would result in reimposing, not just American sanctions, but far broader sanctions on Iran for their violations of the deal.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:30:44)
I think the president has been very clear. We believe we have this authority. I’ve spoken to this a couple of times. We believe that under a UN Security Council Resolution 2231, we clearly have the authority to do this, and that we are not going to permit this arms embargo to expire on October 18th. We’re going to introduce the UN Security Council Resolution we hope we will be met with approval from the other members of the V5, in the event that it’s not, we’re going to take the action necessary to ensure that this arms embargo doesn’t expire. We have the capacity to exit do snapback, and we’re going to use it in a way that protects and defends America.
Senator Cruz: (02:31:18)
Speaker 2: (02:31:19)
Thank you, Senator Cruz, Mr. Secretary, we promised you a hard stop at 11:30. We like to keep our commitments and we have by about 30 seconds according to my clock. Thank you so much for your service to the United States of America. Thank you for working with this committee as you have. We sincerely appreciate it. For information, the member’s record remain open until close of business on Friday. And any responses that are given will be made part of the record. With that again, thank you, Mr. Secretary. And this hearing is adjourned.
Secretary Pompeo: (02:31:51)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, ranking [inaudible 02:31:53].