Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Screenshot)
(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that there was no chance that the administration would allow Russia to question former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McCaul or other Americans.
In an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream, Pompeo was asked if there was any chance that the Trump administration “would actually entertain the idea of allowing Putin” or anyone from his team having “the ability to question or have physical custody of people like our former Ambassador McFaul or other DHS officials who’ve clearly been investigating things that are not beneficial to the Putin regime,” Pompeo said, “None.”
“I answered that question, Shannon, that quickly because it – I’ve watched the noise these last few days. The president’s been very resolute. He understands precisely who it is we’re dealing with in Russia. He gets it. He’s trying to take opportunities, places where we find we can work together, and put America in a position to do the things he wants to do on behalf of the American people,” Pompeo added.
The secretary also said that allegations that Russia must “have something” on President Donald Trump following the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, are “absurd.”
“I think those allegations are absurd,” Pompeo said. “This administration has been relentless in its efforts to deter Russia from its bad behavior. We inherited a situation where Russia was running all over the United States. These last few days have been, frankly, more heat than light.
“This administration has been strong in supporting the Ukrainians, strong in making sure that we’re protected against Russian expansion in other parts of the world. We all recognize that that threat is real, and President Trump has been strong in protecting America from Russian aggression,” he said.
Bream asked Pompeo about a New York Times report that the president was fully briefed a couple week before the inauguration about election meddling and was presented compelling evidence.
“Do you worry as a member who has deep roots in the intel community that it appears he continues to equivocate on this issue of whether or not there has been Russian meddling?” she asked.
“I’m in a position to know. I did have the chance to talk to the president about this. Frankly, over the last – goodness – almost year and a half now, the president’s consistently been briefed on this issue. He understands that the Russians have interfered in our elections. He, frankly, understands that’s been going on for an awfully long time. It wasn’t just the 2016 elections,” Pompeo said.
The secretary said Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy has been going on “for decades now” and that people have made the 2016 election meddling into “a partisan case.”
“Somehow America seems to forget the history of Russia’s efforts to undermine Western democracy for decades now. It gets confused because there are those who want to make a partisan case out of this with respect to the Mueller investigation,” he said.
“The president understands what Russia did in our elections in 2016, but he has empowered each of us to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in the 2018 or 2020 elections here in the United States as well,” Pompeo added.
When asked whether he believed Russia is still meddling in U.S. elections, Pompeo said, “I have great confidence that the Russians will try and undermine Western democracy in 2017, 2018, 2019, and for an awfully long time. It is our responsibility as leaders of the United States Government to do all that we can to deter them from interfering with us, not only in our elections but more broadly as well.”
Pompeo also cast doubt on the Russian ambassador to the United States’ assertion that “important verbal agreements” were made in private conversations between Trump and Putin.
“Well, I’m not sure I’d take the Russian ambassador’s word for a whole lot. From time to time they are wont to tell stories. Here’s what I know. I’d have a chance to talk with President Trump about his discussions with President Putin,” the secretary said.
“There was progress made on a handful of fronts: agreements to try and work more closely on counterterrorism, an effort to begin conversations around arms control to prevent the spread of nuclear proliferation. There were lots of things discussed,” he said.
“There remains a great deal of work to do, but the president accomplished one of his goals, which was to create a way where the two leaders of these important countries can have positive, constructive conversations that surround these incredibly important issues. There’ll be lots of places our two countries’ interests and values diverge. President Trump’s deeply aware of that,” Pompeo added.
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