04.12.18

[VIDEO] Sen. Coons presses Pompeo on the world’s lack of trust and confidence in President Trump’s leadership in world affairs

Sen. Coons: “Are you concerned to see polls such as this that for the first time ever say more people around the world or more leaders around the world trust Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to lead the world in the right direction more than under Donald Trump's leadership?”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today questioned Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

“I would like to introduce to the record an article from the Pew Research Center which reflects trends that other surveys of the world and world leaders have also revealed,” said Senator Coons.“The Center's 2017 annual survey looked at global levels of confidence of President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and their confidence that they would do the right thing for the world. And it was striking that for the first time there's been real slippage. Are you concerned to see polls such as this that for the first time ever say more people around the world or more leaders around the world trust Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to lead the world in the right direction more than under Donald Trump's leadership?”

Full audio and video available here

Senator Coons’ second round of questioning is below:

Sen. Coons: Thank you Chairman Corker, and thank you Director Pompeo. Those same topics we had a constructive conversation yesterday and I am confident that you would be a good advocate for the career professionals of the State Department and USAID and so rather than focus on some of the management and budget and so forth I'm going to focus on areas where I still got some unresolved questions and would rather have a more pointed exchange. But I wanted to make sure I recognize that I think that you've got clarity about the importance of the mission and the role, and deep respect for the professionals that carry out this job. You said in your prepared statement that representing America also requires promoting America's ideals, values, and priorities to those who ultimately determine the trajectory of geopolitics. The voters and citizens of the world. And I agree with you. Mr. Chairman, I would like to introduce to the record an article from the Pew Research Center which reflects trends that other surveys of the world and world leaders have also revealed. The Center's 2017 annual survey looked at global levels of confidence of President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and their confidence that they would do the right thing for the world. And it was striking that for the first time there's been real slippage. Are you concerned to see polls such as this that for the first time ever say more people around the world or more leaders around the world trust Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to lead the world in the right direction more than under Donald Trump's leadership?

Pompeo: Senator, I definitely want people to understand accurately. It’s not an attempt to deceive, but rather to accurately have the people of the world understand the beacon of democracy that the United States of America is. I talked just a moment ago with Senator Portman about misinformation and the capacity to move that around the world. We diligently need to make sure that that doesn't have an impact, and I don't know, I couldn't tell you the depths of the poll, and I don't know of it, but it is the case that there are actors of the world that are seeking to achieve exactly the perception that you laid out there. And we need to make sure that we're doing all that we can to counter that perception of the United States.

Sen. Coons: I'm sure that you'd agree that the United States has and promotes quite different values than China.  

Pompeo: Deeply, deeply. 

Sen. Coons: And, so I'm interested in both what your strategy would be for investing in the resources needed to push back on this difference. And what role do you think our values should play both in our bilateral relationship with China and in how we engage in the world. I've had a concern that over the last fifteen months our values weren't as front and center as our interests more narrowly understood. How do we change that in our bilateral relationship with China and more broadly around the world? 

Pompeo: I believe that our values drive off and drive we see sometimes we see people characterize our interests as being in juxtaposition or in conflict with our values. That may well from time to time be the case. But, I think most often, Senator that actually our values drive those interests. We should be unashamed about that. We should speak to the reason we operate the way we do. We should defend American values every place we go. That means, with respect to China, perhaps, but certainly with respect to other nations, hard conversations. Somedays perhaps, Senator, tradeoffs as well. We do end up having to deal with unsavory characters from time to time to achieve an outcome that we deem important to American national security. But we should never do that to the exclusively, that is we should never put away this American vision for the things that make societies most successful and people be able to achieve what it is that they seek, that we should be proud of that, and we should always have that as part of the discussion. 

Sen. Coons: I think that's a vision that doesn't just tolerate, but celebrates our differences. And as co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus with Senator Tillis I'm concerned about how we make sure that we make that celebration of difference a piece of our foreign policy. I'd be interested in whether you'd think that LGBTQ rights are human rights, and whether you would advocate for them as a piece of a broader agenda of advocating for diversity, and what your strategy is from preventing partners like Turkey, and Egypt and the Philippines that have genuinely slid on their respect and recognition for rights as broadly understood from moving further away from our core values. 

Pompeo: I think there were three questions there, Senator, let me try, I deeply believe that LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person in the world would have. We have many countries in the world that don't honor that, that don't reflect that, that behave, that conduct heinous activity against those persons. We have a responsibility when we're dealing with these countries to do our best to have an impact, to make them recognize the fundamental dignity of every human being that we do here in the United States.

Sen. Coons: Last question if I might Mr. Chairman. There was some exchange you had previously of statements you made as an elected official right after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, and whether that sends a message to America's Muslims, the community within our country and the leaders around the world that you'll need to work with as a chief diplomat. Just tell me something about who the leaders are in the Muslim world you'll be willing to work closely with and what priority you would place on changing that perception of your views given by a few statements that as we discussed yesterday that you think were taken out of context. I think it’s important to have a sense on the record of the view of the religion of Islam and of our partnerships in the Muslim world.

Pompeo: Let me try and do that. But let me try and give evidence, I've worked with our intelligence partners throughout a broad range of Muslim-majority countries. I've worked with them closely, we've done very difficult things together. It would be difficult to chase some of them down, but I think that if you could speak to them you'd find that the view that you suggested that some have seen from that remark, that would be very different to them. I think that they have come to understand that I honor their religion, that I honor their commitment to that. Where it causes some of the challenges as you asked in your previous question, we've tried to push back even at the lowly intelligence level, we've taken on some of these human rights issues in a crisp and square way. I assure you that I'll continue to do that if I'm confirmed into this new position as well. 

Sen. Coons: Thank you for your answers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

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Press Contact

 Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or Sean_Coit@coons.senate.gov