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Senate Questions Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 15:00   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Particularly members of the National Security Council, other advisers and the director of national intelligence -- by surprise last Thursday.

When he was on stage, we all remember that moment out at the Aspen security forum, when Andrea Mitchell advised Dan Coats that the White House had invited Vladimir Putin to come to Washington. He was, of course, gobsmacked by that, and he expressed his surprise to the administration.

Well, it is clear now that the meeting is being delayed. They're saying it is because of the Russia investigation. But, Brooke, it's actually more than that. Remember the criticism really across the board, particularly from Republicans, who said they did not want Vladimir Putin in Washington at all, certainly around the midterm elections.

And more importantly, more to the point, Moscow had never accepted this invitation. The Kremlin acknowledged the invitation, but did not accept the invitation. So the White House to me appears to be trying to head off potentially an embarrassing decline of a meeting by saying, no, we're going to put this off until next year.

But, Brooke, they do not know when the Russian investigation is going to be over. It's likely to be continuing into next year. So this is certainly one of the reasons why usually meetings of this magnitude are not announced over social media. They are agreed upon privately and then announced to avoid moments like this.

And we should point out, no accident, but it's coming right before the secretary of state, of course, is getting a grilling there by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Certainly, this question was going to come up, the second meeting, either a do-over or doubling down. Now it's been delayed -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: To your point about it being embarrassing, Gloria, it's like asking someone to dinner, like sticking your neck out there, asking someone who maybe isn't a favorite of your friends, and the person never responds and leaves you hanging and you're like, OK, just kidding, we will have dinner next year.



BORGER: Never mind.

Well, look, I can imagine congressional leaders who met with the president were not very happy.

I think -- and, Jeff, correct me if I'm wrong -- I think that this was tentatively like going to be set for November 2 or something like that before the election. And, you know, the optics of having Vladimir Putin here or another summit right before the midterm election is probably not something that they were thrilled with.

And, politically, it just didn't work for them. I think Trump wanted to do it because he was upset that people were criticizing him about his first meeting with Putin and maybe had a little bit of a tantrum about it, who knows, and decided to have a second one. But I think other voices prevailed.

And the excuse, as Jeff points out, about the so-called Russia witch- hunt is very interesting to me, because we have no idea when that will be concluded.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Excellent points. Let me ask you the two of you to stand, because as we're looking at these live pictures inside this hearing room.

Let's go to Capitol Hill, where, any moment now, we will see Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, speaking, being questioned in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

So, Manu Raju is our senior congressional correspondent. He is up in one of these hallways right around the corner from this hearing. And Michelle Kosinski is there. She's our CNN diplomatic correspondent.

Manu, to you first.

You have been talking to lawmakers about what they want to know from the secretary, namely, the fact that he said in the last 24, 48 hours many things came of this summit. No one really knows what those many things are. How do you think that he will be treated today and especially from Republicans?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we will get a good sense of that in about a minute. We're actually going to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman right here, Bob Corker.

We will see if we can get him to weigh in.

Senator -- Senator, what is your reaction to the delay of this Putin meeting?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think it's great. RAJU: Do you think that...

CORKER: I will have a better reaction...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're two minutes late. Two minutes late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have got to maintain the hallways, guys. Come on.

Everybody get back against the wall for me here, please.

CORKER: It's a little bit of a mosh pit here, Brooke, as you can see.

BALDWIN: We're still with you.

RAJU: But you could hear Corker say it was a good idea to delay the meeting.

That -- the idea of having the second meeting came under fierce criticism, Brooke, from both parties concerned because they are still unclear exactly what the president agreed to behind close doors.

Even some of the key committees on Capitol Hill have not been briefed about exactly what happened here. Earlier today, I talked to Mark Warner, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, who told me that he also has not been briefed, his committee, despite their role overseeing the intelligence community.

Take a listen.


RAJU: You guys haven't gotten a briefing?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: We have not, no.

I think the Foreign Relations Committee is going to get the first- level brief from Secretary of State Pompeo today. My concern is, I think Secretary Pompeo will give his straight version of the facts, but we don't know if the president even relayed truthfully to Secretary Pompeo. So that's why there's huge concerns on both sides of the aisle.



RAJU: And, Brooke, that's one of the big questions that a lot of the lawmakers have. Will Pompeo actually be able to accurately say what happened between Putin and Trump?

BALDWIN: There he is.

RAJU: I had a chance to look at his opening remarks, Brooke, and he made very clear in his remarks that he delivered a stern message to the Russian officials when he was a part of those larger bilateral meetings.

The question is, what did Putin and Trump say? And whether or not Pompeo can shed any light on that, we will have to learn about -- learn what he has to say in just a matter of moments here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Secretary Pompeo just being seated. You see all those cameras right in front of him.

Michelle, you know, we see the banner, U.S. refuses to recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. That's another significant development that's just come out this afternoon, what we anticipate to hear from him. Talk to me more about that.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, that is a big deal because there has been a question and a real concern among people here and, of course, U.S. allies that in the summit with Putin Trump might make some kind of concession or tacit agreement that he believes that Crimea is Russian.

There's been reporting that behind closed doors, the president has indicated that, well, you know, people speak Russian there. Isn't it a part of Russia? During the campaign, Trump had said that he might consider that he would recognize Crimea as Russian.

So that has been an ongoing question. Well, Pompeo today in this Crimea declaration makes absolutely clear in his words that the U.S. will not recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, in fact, rejects that.

And, basically, the question surrounding the summit...

BALDWIN: Michelle, I'm going to cut you off there, as we want to dip in and take in what is happening on the Hill.


CORKER: ... change the culture of the State Department in positive ways.

But I want to get straight to the point. You come before a group of senators today who are filled with serious doubts about this White House and its conduct of American foreign policy. There are a number of reasons to be concerned.

Among them is the lack of information the administration has provided to members of this committee.

It's our hope that you will reduce our level of concern by providing us with clear answers that might help convince us that those at the White House know what they are doing and that, to be candid, you know what they are doing.

I can't say it more forcefully. We really need a clear understanding as to what is going on, what our president is agreeing to, and what our strategy is on a number of issues. Last week, President Trump held a summit with Vladimir Putin, someone

who has violated the most fundamental international norms through his efforts to annex Crimea, has interfered with elections, including our own, has supported the brutal Assad regime in Syria, has used chemical weapons to poison a Russian agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom, has occupied portions of Georgia, continues to violate the INF Treaty, has reportedly hacked U.S. utilities.

The list goes on and on. And you know the list. In the face of these hostilities, in the summit's aftermath, we saw an American president who appeared submissive and deferential.

We have heard that some agreements were reached, but, as of yet, have little idea what those might be, even though the president has already extended an invitation to Putin to come to Washington to discuss the "implementation" -- quote, quote -- of these undefined agreements.

The president also recently met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, one of the most ruthless leaders on the planet, who has continued to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that could hit the United States, has executed his half-brother with poison in Malaysia, and reportedly killed his uncle back home, has essentially murdered an American college student, and has enslaved millions of his own people.

One in 10 North Koreans are living in slavery today. And one in five children are stunted due to malnutrition.

In the face of these realities, the president has called him very talented and that he loves his people.


At the recent NATO summit, the president not only pushed NATO members in member countries to dedicate more of their budgets to defense, a goal we all share. He went on to berate them, question the very premise of NATO, in my opinion, used false information to turn public opinion in the United States against the alliance.

He even went so far as to cast doubt on the United States' willingness to enforce Article 5 of the NATO treaty. We want to know if this is real or just another off-the-cuff statement.

And the confronting of our partners goes beyond traditional security and extends to the economic space as well.


I know you're aware of my strong feelings about the administration's abuse of its authorities in using Section 232 to implement tariffs in the name of national security.

So far, we have zero clarity from the administration as to what the endgame is on the Trump-Pence tariffs, which, in reality, are a massive tax increase on American consumers and businesses.

And now the administration appears ready to offer welfare to farmers, who would rather have trade than aid.

As you know, senators have gone to the White House in groups to discuss these actions. And not a single person that I'm aware of has left those meetings with the sense that there's a coherent strategy driving these policies.

The administration tells us, don't worry, be patient, there's a strategy here. But from where we sit, it appears that in a ready, fire, aim fashion, the White House is waking up every morning and making it up as they go.

This is the first in a series of hearings we will hold in coming weeks dealing with the troubling dynamic I have described, one in which we are antagonizing our friends and placating those who clearly wish us ill.

This series will deal specifically with Russia as perhaps the most troubling example of this emerging reality.

I hope that, in your position, you will do all in your power to provide us with the answers we need today. And as we move forward in our future hearings, I look forward to your testimony. And I want to thank you again for being with us and for the many outstanding people you're bringing on to the State Department to work with you.

With that, I will turn Senator Menendez.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Let me start by saying I applaud you for making this the first of a series of rigorous oversight hearings on Russia. The committee's gone for about a year without a full committee hearing on either Russia or North Korea. So I appreciate your leadership in this regard.

And now it seems to have taken a three-ring circus of a debacle of a meeting with President Putin, a walk-back of whether the president trusts his own intelligence officials, the suggestion that it might be even OK for a U.S. diplomat to be interrogated by Russian intelligence, and a reality TV summit that was little more than a photo-op with a brutal dictator, the merit hearing with the secretary of state.

Having said that, Mr. Secretary, welcome, and thank you for your service to our country.

The members of this committee are strongly supportive of strategic, well-crafted diplomacy to advance America's foreign policy interests. Unfortunately, all we have come to expect is a saber-rattling president who embraces and provides legitimacies to some of the world's most notorious bad actors and who denigrates our closest allies whose sons and daughters have gone to war alongside Americans.

We have not seen any substantive deals or strategies that put Americans or American national security first. We have seen our president look weak as he stands besides our adversaries and intends to roll out the red carpet at the White House. I hear that's postponed until January, but, nonetheless, to invite Putin to the White House, a thug who is actively trying to undermine our elections.

Well, Mr. Secretary, we in this body are taking heed of our intelligence and law enforcement officials and working to protect our country from the flashing red lights of ongoing Russian aggression.

Senator Graham and I and others plan to introduce legislation in the coming days to ensure we have the toughest tools to go after Russian bad actors.

As of this moment, we find ourselves in an unimaginable situation. The American people, elected officials in this body and members of the president's own Cabinet have heard more about the meeting in Helsinki from Putin and his associates than from our president.

We know that the Kremlin state-run media operations have a dubious commitment to the truth. But we don't know what the truth is, because nobody else was in the room where it happened.

The American people expect and I believe they deserve to know what happened. I also have serious questions about the summit in Singapore that took place nearly two months ago. In that time, we have yet to hear or see anything that provides us with real confidence that North Korea, as the president gloated -- quote -- "no longer poses a threat" to the United States or that we have a coherent strategy to achieve a verifiable denuclearization agreement.

We have only seen a vague agreement of promises to make more promises, but weaker commitments than North Korea has previously made. The United States and North Korea seem to remain far apart on even basic issues, such as the definition of denuclearization.

In fact, over the past 18 months, under this administration's watch, North Korea has perfected its intercontinental ballistic missiles and tested its largest nuclear detonation, rather than any verifiable steps to dismantle their program.


It seems Kim Jong-un got everything he wanted in Singapore, including international recognition and the suspension of U.S. military exercises.

Now, this week's reports of dismantlement at a launching station may be good news, but it may simply be a signal that North Korea has completed all the testing it needs to.

Frankly, the Singapore agreement seems more the art of concessions than the art of the deal. And we are weaker for it.

Last week, Russia and China blocked a U.S. request to impose penalties on sanctions violations, calling our maximum pressure posture into question. As you know, I have introduced bipartisan oversight legislation, along

with Senator Gardner, to provide the sort of support and guidance that this diplomatic effort needs and exercise the oversight responsibility Congress owes to the American people. Goals that you previously laid out before this committee are incorporated.

Finally, let me raise one more deeply alarming issue that broke this week.

I understand that, despite its ability to stop this ridiculous notion, the State Department is about to allow Internet posting of do-it- yourself 3-D printable firearm blueprints.

Why on earth would the Trump administration make it easier for terrorists and gunmen to produce undetectable plastic guns? I remain deeply concerned by the administration's incoherent and contradictory views.

We need comprehensive strategies across the world, because the result of the lack thereof is chaos and confusion, or even worse.

I recognize the president considers himself to be a masterful deal- maker and a very stable genius, but we need to call the president's statements out for what they are. At this point, I find them to be misleading and untruthful.

So I look forward to your testimony to find out what the truth really is.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CORKER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Mr. Secretary, we welcome you again.

And you can summarize your comments. If you have any written materials you would like to enter in the record, we will do so.

And, with that, we look forward to your testimony.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good afternoon, Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Menendez, and distinguished members.

I thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.

During my confirmation hearing, you asked me to work on a host of world problems. And for 12 weeks, I have been doing just that. I hope we will get a chance to talk about each of those today.

The last few weeks, I have engaged in three areas of particular interest to this committee, North Korea, NATO and Russia.

On the subject of Russia, I want to bring something to your attention right off the bat today. Today, the Trump administration is releasing what we're calling the Crimea declaration. I won't read the whole thing. I will submit it for the record. It's been publicly released as well.

But one part reads as follows -- quote -- "The United States calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end it occupation of Crimea" -- end of quote.

I want to assure this committee that the United States does not and will not recognize the Kremlin's purported annexation of Crimea. We stand together with allies, partners and the international community in our commitment to Ukraine and its territorial integrity.

There will be no relief of Crimea-related sanctions until Russia returns control of the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine.

This Crimea declaration formalizes United States policy of nonrecognition.

There's another indicator of diplomatic progress I want to mention. This morning, Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for nearly two years, has been let out of in jail at Buca. He is still under house arrest.

So, our work is not done, but it's welcome progress, one that many of you have been engaged and something the State Department has been working on diligently as well.

We will continue to work for the speedy return of all Americans unjustly held captive abroad. President Trump will never forget about our own.

Our diplomacy on these issues is advancing the goals of President Trump's national security strategy, which laid down guiding principles for American foreign policy in December.

In late April, I started executing on the strategy as secretary state. Today, on July 1 -- excuse me, today, here we are. And I want to present you some progress.

The national strategy established protecting the American people, the homeland and of the American way of life as the pillars of our national security. On July 17, President Trump stated his firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement are preferable to conflict and hostility.

These principles have guided our actions on North Korea. President Trump's diplomacy de-escalated a situation which the prospect for conflict was rising daily. Americans are safer because of his actions.

As far as the Trump administration's goals on North Korea are concerned, nothing's changed. Our objective remains the final, fully verified denuclearization North Korea's agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong-un.

As a follow-up to the president's successful summit with Chairman Kim, on July 5, I traveled to North Korea to make progress on the commitments that were made in Singapore. [15:20:09]

We're engaged in patient diplomacy. But we will not let this drag out to no end.

I emphasized this position in the productive discussions I have had with Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol.

President Trump remains upbeat about the prospects for North Korean denuclearization. Progress is happening. We need Chairman Kim Jong- un to follow through on his commitments that he made in Singapore.

Until North Korea eliminates its weapons of mass destruction, our sanctions and those of the United Nations will remain in effect. Multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions require North Korea to eliminate all of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

Those resolutions were passed unanimously. And they remain binding.

We absolutely need every single nation to maintain the enforcement of those sanctions to which every nation is committed. The path ahead is not easy. But our hopes for a safer world and a brighter future for North Korea endure.

The national security strategy also calls for peace through strength. President Trump's engagement on NATO has resulted in greater burden- sharing that will strengthen the entire alliance against myriad conventional and unconventional threats.

Allies have spent more than $40 billion in increased defense spending since 2016. And there will be hundreds of millions of -- billions of dollars more in the years ahead.

Last year's $14.4 billion in new spending was a 5.1 percent increase. It was the largest in a generation. Eight allies will meet the 2 percent this year; 18 are on track to do so by '24. The Trump administration is demanding that every country make its own commitment.

NATO will remain an indispensable pillar of American national security. We know weakness provokes our enemies, but strength and cohesion protect us. The more every NATO member contributes, the better the alliance can fulfill its mission of deterring threats to each of our nations.

This is the increased commitment that the president wants.

From the outset of this administration, the national defense strategy and the Russia integrated strategy, our approach has been the same, to steadily raise the cost of aggression -- aggression until Vladimir Putin chooses a less confrontational foreign policy, while keeping the door open for dialogue in our national interest.

Between our two nations, the United States and Russia possess over 90 percent of the world's of nuclear weapons. President Trump believes the two great nuclear powers should not have a contentious relationship. This is not just in our interest, but in the interest of the whole world.

He strongly believes that now's the time for direct communication in our relationship in order to make clear to President Putin that there is the possibility, however remote it might be, to reverse the negative course of our relationship. Otherwise, the administration will continue imposing tough actions against Russia in response to its malign activities.

We can't make progress on issues of mutual concern unless we're talking about them. I have heard many of you on this panel say that for years and years. I'm referring to key issues like stopping terrorism, obtaining peace in Ukraine, stopping the civil war in Syria, delivering humanitarian assistance, ensuring security for Israel and shutting down all of Iran's malign activity.

And on the subject of Iran, President Trump has said that Iran is not the same country it was five months ago. That's because our campaign of financial pressure, our withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and our full-throated support for the Iranian people, which I articulated in a speech this past Sunday, are having an impact.

In Helsinki, we sought to explore whether Russia was interested in improving our relationship, but made clear that the ball is in Russia's court. We defended America's fundamental strategic interest in Syria and Ukraine.

And I personally made clear to the Russians there will be severe consequences for interference in our democratic processes.

I would also add that President Trump is well aware of the challenges that Russia poses to the United States and our partners and allies. He's taken a staggering number of actions to protect our interests.

As just a few pieces of proof, I would like to cite the following, 213 sanctions on Russian entities and individuals in the Trump administration, 60 Russian spies expelled from the United States of America, and the closure of Russia's consulate in Seattle in response to Russia's chemical weapons use in the United Kingdom, the closure of Russia's consulate in San Francisco, cutting U.S. diplomatic staffing by Russia by almost 70 percent; 150 military exercises have been led or participated in Europe this year alone.

More than $11 billion have been put forward for the European defense initiative. We made defensive weapons available to Ukraine and to Georgia. And just last week, the Department of Defense -- this is after Helsinki -- added an additional $200 million in security cooperation funds to Ukraine.

None of this happened for the eight years that proceeded President Trump.


If it's not enough for you, there's a long list. I'm happy to go through them. And I'm guessing sometime today, I will get that opportunity. I look forward to it.

Finally, I want you to know, President Trump has stated that he accepts our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He has a complete and proper understanding of what happened.

I know. I briefed him on it for over a year.

This is perfectly clear to me personally. I'm also certain he deeply respects the difficult and dangerous work that our patriots in the intelligence community do every single day. And I know that he feels the same way about the amazing people that work at the United States Department of State.

Thank you, Chairman Corker.

CORKER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

The secretary's staff has asked that we absolutely -- absolutely stay to the seven-minute deal. So if we could not ask five-part questions, and end at 6:58, if you could give the respondent time to answer within the seven minutes, too, I would appreciate it.

With that, I will defer to Senator Menendez. I will withhold my time for interjections along the way.

Senator Menendez.

MENENDEZ: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, when the president meets alone with President Putin, it allows the Kremlin-sponsored state media and the Russian Ministry of Defense to provide more information, at least from their perspective, not only to the American people, but sometimes it seems to the members of the president's own Cabinet.

So I would like to ask you some questions to get to understand what actually happened.

Has the president told you what he and President Putin discussed in their two-hour closed-door meeting in Helsinki?

You can put your microphone on.

POMPEO: Excuse me. I'm sorry.

Presidents have a prerogative to choose who's in meetings or not. I'm confident you have had private one-on-one meetings in your life as well. You have chosen that setting as the most efficient way...

MENENDEZ: I just asked you a simple question. Did you...


MENENDEZ: You can't eat up my seven minutes, Mr. Secretary.

Did you -- did he tell you what -- whether or not -- what happened in those two hours?

POMPEO: Yes, Senator, the predicate of your question implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. I completely disagree with the premise of your question.

MENENDEZ: Just -- I didn't ask you a predicate. I asked you a simple question. And I hope we're going to get to it.

Did he tell you what transpired in the...


MENENDEZ: ... meeting?

POMPEO: I have had a number of conversations with President Trump about what transpired in the meeting.

I was also president -- present when he and President Putin both gave us a sense of what they discussed in the meeting that followed immediately after.

MENENDEZ: Did you have...


POMPEO: I have also had the chance to speak with Sergei Lavrov twice about the Russian view on what takes place. I think I have a pretty complete understanding of what took place in that meeting.

MENENDEZ: Good. Good.

Did you speak to the translator who was at that meeting?

POMPEO: No, I haven't.

MENENDEZ: Have you seen any of her notes?

POMPEO: Senator, I have never -- I have been in lots of meetings. I have had lots of note takers and lots of translators. I have never relied on the work that they did in order to understand what took place in that meeting. And it does not need to be done here, and won't be.


MENENDEZ: Did the president discuss relaxing U.S. sanctions on Russia, including (INAUDIBLE) sanctions?

POMPEO: Senator, the U.S. policy with respective to sanctions remains completely unchanged.

MENENDEZ: So the president did not -- so, what you're telling me that -- I asked a very specific question.

POMPEO: Yes, Senator, and I gave you a very specific answer.

MENENDEZ: Did the president tell you that he discussed relaxing Russia sanctions or not? Yes or no?

POMPEO: Senator, presidents are entitled to have private meetings.

I'm telling you what U.S. policy is. I came here today...

MENENDEZ: No, but you -- you told me that you had a conversation in which he told you what transpired.

POMPEO: Yes. That's right.

MENENDEZ: I think the nation and so all of us who are policy-makers deserve to know, so that we can fashion policy accordingly.

Did he tell Putin that I will release or ultimately relax sanctions?

POMPEO: Senator, what you need to conduct your role, your appropriate role, I will provide you today. That is United States policy with respect to the issues you request. You asked me about U.S. policy with respects to sanctions.

And I can confirm to you that no commitment has been made to change those policies in any way.

MENENDEZ: Did the president at this meeting call upon President Putin to withdraw from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine?

POMPEO: Senator, I began my statement today with the United States government's policy.


MENENDEZ: I understand the declaration, and I welcome it. I'm glad that -- it seems like we had to do a lot of effort to get there.

But the question is, when he had a chance, did he confront Putin and say, we don't recognize your annexation of Crimea, we don't recognize your continuing hostilities in Eastern Ukraine, and there's consequences for that?

POMPEO: Senator, the president was very clear with Vladimir Putin about U.S. positions. They are the U.S. positions that are the Trump administration's positions. And he spoke about them very firmly and clearly when he met with Vladimir Putin.

MENENDEZ: And that -- he told you that?

POMPEO: Senator, I'm telling you what he had a conversation with Vladimir Putin about, and I'm telling you what U.S. policy is today.

I understand. Senator, I understand the game that you're playing. I get it.

MENENDEZ: No. No. No, Mr. Secretary..

POMPEO: I do. I get.


MENENDEZ: With all due respect, I don't appreciate you characterizing my questions.

My questions is to get to the truth. We don't know what the truth is.


MENENDEZ: And the only way that we will know what the truth is, what transpired in those two hours, a highly amazing period of time to spend alone one-on-one, is by understanding at least that, if you were briefed by the president, what he told you.

I don't think that's unfair to know, to understand what policies -- let me ask you this. Were -- did the president say that we're going to change our force structure in Syria?