Interview With Margaret Brennan of CBS Face the Nation
QUESTION: We begin this morning with America's top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Welcome to Face the Nation on a very busy morning for you. On this latest North Korea test, it appears to be short-range missiles. Does Kim Jong-un get a pass on this, or are we looking at a situation where more sanctions are necessary?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the sanctions haven't changed. The toughest sanctions in the history of North Korea remain in place. That's probably what's putting some of the pressure on Chairman Kim today. You saw this happen too right after his visit to Russia, right? Right after he spoke with Vladimir Putin, he made the decision to take these actions.
We're still evaluating the appropriate response, but I want everyone in your audience to know we're going to exhaust every diplomatic opportunity there is. I continue to invite our counterparts for negotiations. We still believe there is a path forward where Chairman Kim can denuclearize without resort to anything beyond diplomacy. We're hopeful that we can achieve that. We've made real progress between Singapore and Hanoi, and we hope that progress can continue. It would be the best outcome for the world. And Chairman Kim's commitment that he made to President Trump back in Singapore remains in effect. He has said he is prepared to denuclearize. My task as America's most senior diplomat is to achieve that.
QUESTION: So when President Trump tweeted I'm with him, he wasn't saying that this test will go without consequence?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think President Trump understands that the path forward that is the most optimal for the entire world is a negotiated solution to this. So we're � he � I talked to him last night. We are full speed ahead in trying to work with the North Koreans to diplomatically achieve the verified denuclearization on the peninsula.
QUESTION: Cynthia Warmbier, the mother of Otto Warmbier, the college student from the University of Virginia who died in North � after being released from North Korean custody, spoke out forcefully about Kim Jong-un and the diplomacy underway. Take a listen:
MS WARMBIER: This is not only a nuclear problem. This is a problem that we're dealing with absolute evil. There is a charade going on right now. It's called diplomacy. How can you have diplomacy with someone that never tells the truth?
QUESTION: How do you respond to her?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, I've gotten to know the Warmbier family, especially Cindy. She is an amazing patriot and a remarkable woman, and I have enormous sympathy for her and admiration for her as well, and I completely understand her remarks. We're hopeful. We don't expect Chairman Kim to tell us the truth. That's why we're going to verify any denuclearization that takes place. It's why we will ensure that we see actual on-the-ground outcomes. We're not going to take anyone's word for it. But we want to work to try and do that in a way that is a negotiated solution, and that's our mission set.
QUESTION: Are you still President Trump's lead negotiator on North Korea?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So far as I know.
QUESTION: The North Koreans have said that they objected to negotiating with you personally.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. The North Koreans don't get to choose our negotiator. We don't get to choose theirs. Each of these two leaders is also very personally committed to this effort. They have both shown great effort to try and achieve this outcome. I'm working to support those two leaders so that we can get the outcome that the world deserves.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about China. Chinese officials are headed here to Washington for trade talks. We heard from a Pentagon official on Friday a pretty stark description of what is underway right now in China. He said that there are three million Muslims being rounded up into concentration camps in China. Why hasn't the administration taken any kind of action or sanction against Beijing for this?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness. President Trump has pushed back against China in a way that no previous president had. They had given --
QUESTION: Concentration camps.
SECRETARY POMPEO: They had given the Chinese a free pass in every dimension. President Trump is now pushing back on the enormous trade abuses. You've seen me personally speak out about the same situation that you're describing: this number, certainly up to a million people held in re-education camps. The Trump administration is going to hold every nation accountable --
QUESTION: You're okay with that term, re-education camps, not concentration camps, which the Pentagon used?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We can use lots of different terms to describe what's taking place. This is enormous human rights violations. I've spoken about it repeatedly. The entire administration --
QUESTION: Why the difference between --
SECRETARY POMPEO: has spoken at it repeatedly.
QUESTION: You just said a million minorities.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Pentagon says three million.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is there a discrepancy within the administration on --
SECRETARY POMPEO: No.
QUESTION: what to do about this and what's actually happening?
SECRETARY POMPEO: There's not. Don't play ticky-tack. There is no discrepancy. This administration -
QUESTION: Concentration camps is a loaded term, sir, and --
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ma'am --
QUESTION: three million Muslims being rounded up is something that many would expect the United States to raise at the highest levels.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, and we've done so.
QUESTION: Secretary --
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it sounds like you're satisfied with that, right?
QUESTION: Well --
SECRETARY POMPEO: We've done so, right? And so don't make � don't make --
QUESTION: But why no sanctions? Should we expect that? Because the accusation, as you know, sir, is that the trade talks are causing the U.S. to choose its own financial interests over its values. Are you saying that's not the case and there will be actions taken?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks for the clarification of your question. I appreciate that. This administration can do more than one thing at a time. We're working to stop the intellectual property theft that has destroyed millions of jobs in the United States. We're working to stop the foreign technology � forced technology transfers that have taken place. We've got the largest defense budget in history in place, part of which will go to ensuring we counter Chinese military power. We're working on these human rights violations as well.
This administration takes a backseat to no one in our efforts and our outcomes in achieving a more rational relationship with China. The previous administration put us in a bad place, and we're working to fix it.
QUESTION: Were you just saying human rights are going to be included in the trade deal?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No. Human rights are going to be addressed, and we've done so. I've raised it in multiple conversations with my counterpart, their foreign minister, and with others.
QUESTION: You've got the whole world as your portfolio, so let's move on to Venezuela and Russia. There was this phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Trump that just happened. The President described it to us in an Oval Office spray. Why didn't he bring up election interference on this phone call when he said he did discuss the findings of the Mueller report, which found sweeping and systematic Russian interference in 2016?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, you'll have to ask the White House that question. The President has been very clear. The administration has taken great action. I wish the previous one had stopped the election interference that took place in 2016. They failed to do so. Between 2017, when President Trump came into office, and 2018, we had a successful election year, a set of midterm elections. We're working diligently to assure that the elections in 2020 aren't interfered with by Russia, by Iran, by North Korea, or anyone else. We have enormous resource deployed against that challenge, and the American people should be sure that their government is working hard to keep our elections safe and secure.
QUESTION: You said this week that Moscow has hundreds of people in Venezuela, and you were very clear that you think it was Russia that convinced Nicolas Maduro not to get on a plane and to flee the country. Here's what the President said during his � after his phone call with Vladimir Putin:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way.
QUESTION: There seems to be a difference in how the President described the situation and how you and Ambassador Bolton have described it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, no difference. No difference. The President has said � I think he, in fact, tweeted � that the Russians must leave Venezuela, and we have asked every nation that is interfering with Venezuelan democracy. You've seen this. I was down on the border. We saw mothers who couldn't feed their children fleeing the country. We saw families that had sick kids but couldn't get medicines all sitting � it was sitting within 50 miles of where we were located, and Maduro won't allow it to come in. The President has been very clear we want the Cubans out, there are Iranians on the ground there, we want the Russians � we want everyone out, so that the Venezuelan people can get the democracy they deserve. That includes Mr. Maduro leaving.
QUESTION: So when he says � the President says Putin is not looking to get involved at all in Venezuela, that is not the President accepting him at face value?
SECRETARY POMPEO: You'll have to leave � you'll have to let the --
QUESTION: He knows that that's not the case?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has tweeted that he wants the Russians out of Venezuela.
QUESTION: So he was just putting a positive spin on things in that moment?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We are working very diligently to ensure that Maduro leaves and we get free and fair elections in Venezuela. That will require the 2,300 Cuban security personnel, frankly the people closest to Maduro who are protecting the (inaudible) security for Maduro � they've got to leave. We're working on that as well. We're working with the Cubans to try and get an outcome that will let the Venezuelans have this opportunity.
QUESTION: On this � I know you'll be meeting with the Russian foreign minister in the coming days � is there a deal to be struck with Russia on this front? I mean, Russia benefits, right, by having Venezuelan oil off the market, by having a level of influence in America's backyard. Is the U.S. going to negotiate a deal with Russia on Venezuela?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I'll certainly bring up Venezuela. It will be one of many topics that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I speak about. Whether there is a particular deal that can be reached, only time will tell.
QUESTION: Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina who I know you know well, tweeted this week: Cuba, Russia send troops to prop up Maduro in Venezuela while we talk and have sanctions. Where's our aircraft carrier? He seems to be calling a bluff here on your mention and mention from others that military options aren't off the table. What is actually being considered here? Because you can't refer to the use of military force lightly. Is there an actual option that you are considering deploying in the coming days?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness. The President has made clear that no option is off the table. We worked this week to further the planning so that we'd have a wide range of options � diplomatic options, political options, options that would involve the Department of Defense. We've made clear. The President has � the President --
QUESTION: That's hospital ships, or that's actual offensive action?
SECRETARY POMPEO: There are � there will be many options that we will fully bake, make sure they're ready, get laid out in exquisite detail, that are executable, so that when the situation changes on the ground or the President makes a conclusion that it's a path he wants to go down, that these options are prepared for him. We wouldn't want to be flat-footed, and we've worked diligently to make sure that that capability � a wide range of capabilities are prepared to be executed.
QUESTION: And just a final point on this. Juan Guaido, the opposition leader that the U.S. backs and many other countries recognize as the legitimate leader, has said that he essentially miscalculated the level of support in assuming the military would back him or break away from Maduro. Are you still saying a military option is on the table when the opposition leader we are backing can't get the support of his country's military?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, he didn't get it that day, although the senior intelligence official left. It's not the case that military haven't left. There have been lots of Venezuelan military that have departed. But let's make --
QUESTION: Not enough to make that successful?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Not yet. We're not there yet. We won't be successful till the day that we are, and we are determined to see that the Venezuelan people have their democracy restored, as are 54 other nations, including most every nation in the region. They understand that three million refugees, three million migrants that have departed Venezuela, another two million this year, is unacceptable for their region, and they are working to build out a coalition to support the Venezuelan people in their democracy.
QUESTION: All right, Mr. Secretary. I'm told we have to leave it there. Thank you for coming in.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, ma'am.
Source: U.S. State Department