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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

CIA Director Appointee Mike Pompeo on Nomination Eve

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The transcript:

HH: Joined now by United States Congressman Mike Pompeo of the House Intelligence Committee, longtime pal of the show. Congressman, welcome, how are you this morning?

MP: I’m very good, Hugh. How are you today?

HH: Great. I’ve got lots to ask you. But first, I’ve got to tell you a story. The day after the election, I come out of AM 970 in New York, it’s 9:00 in the morning, and I’m talking to one of the station employees who had a little bit louder voice, and maybe attracted some attention. He was very excited about the results. And a young 25 year old millennial bursts in, interrupts our conversation, and yells at us, “This is a disaster. We’re all going to become Kansas,” and then he storms away.

MP: (laughing)

HH: And I thought to myself, it was rude. It was wrong. And he doesn’t know a lick about Kansas, does he?

MP: No, I assume that he, the young person said they want, they were going to become Kansas, they were thrilled with that. What a great outcome to get…

HH: That was not his suggestion (laughing).

MP: Good set of Midwestern values and decency and a great place to live? I assume that this person was very excited about that, so I’ll take that as a compliment.

HH: What do they think is going on in Kansas? Wichita is a hub, the Kansas City, I mean, it’s just a silly, but there is this coastal condescension towards the middle of America, which is grating.

MP: There is enormous ignorance attached to it, Hugh. I think when you hear that, it is grating. And it’s, there’s something about their absence of respect and dignity towards people who live in different places and think about the world a little bit different. And it’s strange. I was talking to another friend just after the election, and these protests were taking place, and he reminded you know, when we lose, we pick up our lunchbox and get to work the next morning and try to make America a better place and take care of our families and our churches and our communities. And these folks go out and hold up cardboard signs. It is, I think it’s very telling, and frankly, I think it had, that very behavioral difference had an impact on this election that was enormous and unexpected.

HH: You know, I spent yesterday with James Carville doing a presentation to 2,000 people, and the day before…

MP: God bless you.

HH: Oh, I love, James is an old friend, and Juan’s an old friend, so I’m used to their tirades. And they’re funny, and they’re good and they’re smart. But they get it. And both of them said the left has become so condescending that it’s repelling their old voters. I mean, if you would have told me Trumbull County, where I am from, Warren, Ohio, Youngstown-Warren, the Mahoning Valley…

MP: Sure.

HH: …had not voted for a Republican since 1928, and they voted for Trump. They’ve lost the union voter.

MP: Yeah, Hugh, when I talked about dignity, I think condescension is another way to think about that. And what the American people said, and you know, frankly, across large swaths of the country, even in coastal states, in the rural areas of those state, New York and California, they understood that this last eight years were governed by somebody who didn’t understand their way of life.

HH: And didn’t care to try and find out.

MP: Yeah, and didn’t even try.

HH: So now Congressman Pompeo, I want to talk about the conference yesterday. There was this ill-advised attempt by a few people to resuscitate earmarks, a nightmare proposal. I don’t want to blame anyone. No doubt, they thought we could redirect spending. It’s a nightmare. It’s radioactive. Is it dead?

MP: Yes.

HH: Can you expand on this why it’s dead? And what were they thinking?

MP: Look, we just, these two ideas, one that we began with the election and now this idea that maybe we should bring back earmarks, a historic legacy that was, created so much of the culture of corruption in Washington, D.C., you can’t hold those thoughts in your head at the same time, right?

HH: No (laughing)

MP: So that’s why it’s dead. It’s dead, because as people reflect on what happened yesterday in conference, and the handful of members who frankly are trying to do something that I understand they’re trying to make sure that the president doesn’t get to figure out where the money goes, that Congress does. So I appreciate the noble objective, but earmarks are a disaster for Congress. They create a set of incentives that are horrible. They make lobbyists rich. I am confident that earmarks are not going to come back in this Congress.

HH: You know, it just goes to the question, and when I next talk to the Speaker, but I’ll tell you this, they really do need to get out more, people who thought about that. They really don’t, they need to go on talk radio like you do, and they need to talk to more people, because that was such a dead stupid idea, that I just sometimes think whoever the appropriators are who were for that, they’ve just got to get out more, because they don’t understand the country. They’re in the same box of the connected versus the disconnected, or the protected versus the unprotected. Now let me ask you about your leadership and Mike Pence. He’s an old friend of yours. I assume you overlapped in Congress.

MP: We did. His last two years were my first two.

HH: And he was in charge of the conference, so you would have had some connection with him. He’s coming to meet with the Speaker today. How confident are you that Mike Pence is the bridge from 1600 to Capitol Hill?

MP: Oh, very confident, and not only that, he’s a good bridge, a sound bridge, and will be fantastic in that role, and frankly, something that has been horribly missing these last eight years. Whether they’re from your party or not, the administration has to figure out how to develop a working relationship with Congress, and I know that Vice President-Elect Pence will do that. He’s not only going to see the Speaker, he’s going to see the minority leader today, he’s coming to speak to our conference at 9:00 this morning, so he’ll see all of our conference, even the new members who we will be sworn in, in January, will be there this morning. And we very much look forward to working alongside Trump and Pence to achieve the very goals that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence laid out over the last six months.

HH: Now obviously, when you get a chance to talk to the Vice President, your priority is to tell him he needs to do the Hugh Hewitt Show weekly if he wants to communicate with the country. Just make a note of that.

MP: (Laughing)

HH: And by the way, the minority leader, she might be a lame duck. Tim Ryan’s coming up after you, an old friend of mine. And you know, I’m kind of hoping, Tim’s a friend, so I hope he wins. But I’m a Republican, so I hope he loses. I want them to stick with Pelosi, she’s done so well since 2010.

MP: Yeah, selfishly, I mean, look at what’s happened all across America, right? Governors races, state legislative bodies, I mean, it has been a blowout. This idea, I was laughing, this idea, there was this big Democrat realignment that was taking place, has proven not only to be wrong, but completely 180 degrees out of sorts with the facts that the American people have driven. We’ve watched America reject progressivism, and we know watch Democrats at the national level are going to put their, one of their most progressive members in, perhaps, at the DNC, Representative Ellison. That, too, is remarkably disconnected. It shows an absence of understanding about what the American people really want from their government.

HH: A couple of your colleagues are being mentioned, Devin Nunes, chairman of your committee, House Intel, is being mentioned for the CIA, Tom Price, chairman of the Budget Committee being mentioned for HHS. Your comments on both?

MP: Both great members. I know Representative Nunes and Representative Price very well. They would both be great additions to any team, including the President’s team. I think the transition, in spite of what left media is saying, is going precisely apace. They’re working through the process, and I am confident that when we hear who they select to be leaders of organizations that range from the Department of Education to the Department of Defense and everything in between, we’re going to see a really good team put in place. And come January, we’re going to get this economy going again. I’m so looking forward to it.

HH: You know, Congressman Pompeo, I was the acting director of the OPM in the transition from Reagan to Bush, ’88-’89, and so from a position of some knowledge and authority, I can say this is tiddlywinks compared to the St. Valentine’s day massacre that had happened between Bush and Reagan when all the Reaganauts were thrown overboard. And that was quick and brutal and nasty, but I can also say this idea that it’s a hallmark of failure that you’re not sending your transition team to meet with the third-tier political appointees, as I was at that time, who are hanging around the agencies now, that’s just silly.

MP: Yeah.

HH: These are silly narratives.

MP: Yeah, yeah, look, they’ve got to have something to talk about, because they were proven so wrong. So self-reflection is out, so they’ve got to do something different, which is to chip and throw dirt on a transition that’s being run in a way that I think will reflect exactly what the American people demand. And I don’t know if you saw last night, President Trump’s talking about a five year ban on lobbying for folks who enter the administration. Good for him. Those are things that actually do make a difference in how Americans view the people who go to Washington to serve them, are important. They’re signals, and they tell the American people that Mr. Trump really does care about them. So I think they’re very important, and I think the transition is going to prove incredibly effective. It takes a little bit of time, there’s always a little bit of sand in the gearbox, but they’re going to work their way through this, and I’m anxious to hear. I think Vice President-Elect Pence will talk to us about that this morning as well.

HH: Interesting visitor to Trump Tower on Tuesday, your friend and mine, Tom Cotton. And then he started showing up on these lists. Is 38 too young to run the DOD?

MP: (laughing) He’s a very talented Senator. I think he could do a fantastic job in lots of places, administration including as a secretary of Defense. I think he’d be excellent. I think the troops would love it.

HH: Okay, now let me ask you about the sequester and Defense spending. Senator Sessions is said to be in line for Defense as well. He’s a budget hawk. Is there any doubt in your mind that the sequester will be removed from the DOD?

MP: Almost none. It seems unimaginable that we won’t be able to fix that and get the right number. We may even be able to get something done in the interim here in the next, what have we got left, 30 days, 40 days, get something done to put a Band-Aid on it at least for the moment. But come turn of the year, come the turn of the administration, I’m confident we will remove the sequester, we will reallocate federal discretionary spending in a way that reflects America’s priorities, which include making sure our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have the resources they need to perform the tasks we’re asking them to undertake.

HH: You know, I had a chance a couple of weeks ago to go to the dinner for the Heroes of the Battlefield, the Angels of the Battlefield, honoring medic, corpsman, etc. And Joe Dunford was there, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What an impressive guy. I don’t know that Team Trump is doing enough to salute the actual professional military, and I hope you get a chance to nudge him a little bit towards recognizing that the professionals are amazing up and down, as you know, as a West Point graduate. I just think campaigns tend to overlook the amazing delivery of deliverables that we get every day out of the military.

MP: I think it’s sometimes, we all don’t get that right. We need to talk about it more. We need to celebrate it more. These young men and women, Hugh, you see them, I get a chance to interact with them in my role on the Intelligence Committee, are amazing. They’ve all joined the military where they knew they were likely to put themselves in real harm’s way, and they still did it. They volunteered to go do it. We need to celebrate them not just on Veterans Day, but every day, and talk about the great accomplishments they’ve achieved. We sometimes let the politics get between the truth about how great these young people.

HH: And a last, last subject, my hobby horse. I’ve got lots of people I’m pushing. I want Scott Pruitt to be the AG, and I want Bolton at State, and Robert O’Brien at NATO. I’ve got lots of things on my, Grenell at U.N. But DHS, Department of Homeland Security, I think ought to be de-politicized. We’ve had four DHS secretaries, they all came from political backgrounds, all well-intentioned. But I would love to see a Stanley McChrystal or someone of super competence come in here, because we’re getting pummeled on the cyber side. I know you can’t talk about it, but I read the reports. And we’re compromised all over the place. We need supreme confidence, and we need bipartisan confidence. What do you think about de-politicizing DHS by finding people like that, like Stanley McChrystal, Mike Pompeo?

MP: You know, without any particular names, DHS has an incredibly important function with respect to keeping the homeland capable of defending itself, and that is an organizational structural leadership, technical task. So I am confident that Mr. Trump will find someone who can achieve that. We haven’t had that. It has become deeply political, and has gotten wrapped up in all kinds of PC issues as well. It needs to be about true security, true technical competence. And I’m pretty confident that Mr. Trump gets that, too. He talked about this all through his campaign, and I think we’re going to see a team that’s focused on achieving the outcomes that the Americans demanded on November 8th.

HH: Mike Pompeo of Kansas, always a pleasure, Congressman. I continue to look forward talking to you as the amazing year ahead unfolds. Thank you, Congressman.

End of interview.


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