September 27, 2019

Pompeo answers news network’s questions about administration’s contacts with Ukraine


Transcripts of U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s appearances on Sunday morning political affairs programs of September 22 were provided by the U.S. Department of State. Following are excerpts referring to Ukraine.


With Margaret Brennan of CBS’s “Face the Nation”

QUESTION: I want to also ask you about Ukraine. The president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is publicly calling for an investigation by the Ukrainian government into Joe Biden, who is obviously a political opponent of the president. Is it appropriate for the president’s personal attorney to be inserting himself in foreign affairs like this?

SECRETARY POMPEO: If there was election interference that took place by the vice-president, I think the American people deserve to know. We know there was interference in the 2016 election, and if it’s the case that there was something going on with the president or his family that caused a conflict of interest and Vice-President Biden behaved in a way that was inconsistent with the way leaders ought to operate, I think the American people deserve to know that.

QUESTION: So you think it’s appropriate for Rudy Giuliani to be doing that? Has the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine been providing support, the State Department been supporting what he’s doing?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’m not going to talk about that, other than to say this: We have consistently worked to support the Ukrainian people. I remember the previous administration. I was – Margaret, you’ll remember I was a member of Congress, and Barack Obama refused to provide defensive weapon systems to the Ukrainian people. He sent them blankets.

This president, much to the consternation of Vladimir Putin, who – you know there’s this storyline about Russia and we’re weak on Russia. This president sent defensive weapon systems to the Ukrainians so they could defend themselves while Barack Obama allowed one-fifth of Ukraine to be stolen by Vladimir Putin. This administration is working to develop a great relationship with Ukraine. We’ll see President [Volodymyr] Zelensky this week here in New York, I think, and we’re looking forward to that.

QUESTION: Will you ask him or have you asked him to open an investigation?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve talked to the foreign minister now a couple of times. We talk about the important relationship between our two countries and how we can make Ukraine stronger and have great economic commerce between our two great nations.


With Martha Raddatz of ABC’s “This Week”

QUESTION: And I want to turn to this whistleblower complaint, Mr. Secretary, the complaint involving the president and a phone call with a foreign leader to the director of national intelligence inspector general. That’s where the complaint was launched by the whistleblower. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump pressed the president of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden’s son. What do you know about those conversations?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So you just gave me a report about an IC [Intelligence Community] whistleblower complaint, none of which I’ve seen. I can tell you about this administration’s policies with Ukraine. I remember the previous administration was begged, begged by the Ukrainian people, to deliver defensive arms so that they could protect themselves from Vladimir Putin and Russia, and they gave them blankets. This administration took seriously the responsibility of the Ukrainian people. We’ve provided now on multiple occasions resources so that the Ukrainians can defend themselves. We’ve worked on that. We are working. We’ll see President Zelensky this week. We want a good relationship with the Ukrainian people.

QUESTION: Let me read something that the —

SECRETARY POMPEO: We want them to have freedom and independence. But, Martha, if it’s the case that —

QUESTION: You say you know nothing about this, but let me ask you this question. The Ukrainian presidential readout of the conversation said they discussed, quote, “investigation of corruption cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” The president tweeted Saturday, “It was a perfectly fine and respectful conversation.” Do you think it’s, quote, “perfectly fine” to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday that said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation. I do think – I do think if Vice-President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that, Martha. And I hope that we will. I hope that if Vice-President Biden engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, I hope the American people will come to learn that. America can’t have —

QUESTION: We’ve seen no evidence of that yet. But I want to go back to the question —

SECRETARY POMPEO: America cannot have our elections interfered with. America cannot have our elections interfered with. And if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice-President Biden, we need to know.

QUESTION: There’s no evidence of that yet. But if the conversation was perfectly fine, as President Trump said, why not release the transcript or a portion to the public?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The White House will have to explain the – they’re – you know, Martha, they – we don’t release transcripts very often. It’s the rare case. Those are private conversations between world leaders, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances. There’s no evidence that that would be appropriate here at this point.