Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, was my guest today. After we discussed the recent rampages of the Islamic State, our talk turned to the pendinging questioning of Hillary friend/aide/confidant Sidney Blumenthal and Huma Abedin.
HH: Right now, I’m joined by Congressman Mike Pompeo, our friend from Kansas’ 4th Congressional district. He is of course a member of the House Intel Committee and a veteran of the long war. Congressman Pompeo, the loss of Ramadi has got to be like a gut punch. This is a replay of a bad movie.
MP: It is. It is all of that. It is devastatingly bad as a tactical matter. The exposure that creates throughout the rest of Iraq is enormous. But as we’ve talked about on the show before, it is a symptom of a failure to develop a strategy that at all pushes back on the threat of ISIS in a material way, and leaves, frankly, the playing field wide open for the Iranians to continue their advance throughout Iraq as well.
HH: Now I am troubled. I saw a piece on the three-level web, Congressman Pompeo – the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. And apparently, Islamic State is breeding in the dark web. And when you give them a town like Ramadi, you’re giving them monitor and communications facilities. You’re giving them industrial base. You’re given them all sorts of capacities they didn’t have before.
MP: Massive infrastructure, telecommunications infrastructure, industrial infrastructure, we’ve seen articles about the equipment that they fell in on top of. You know, it hasn’t been too long ago that we used that as a major operations center as well. And so it is the case that this is not, as Dempsey had said, an insignificant place. This is not, as others have said, just another step. I think the President’s spokesman said well, you have good days and you have bad days, or something like that. That’s not what this is at all. This was an enormous victory for the Islamists, and one that I have not heard any plan to correct.
HH: On more bad news department, the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, gave a commencement address yesterday, I’ve linked it over at Hughhewitt.com, a commencement address in which he says no, they’re not going to be allowed on our military bases, no, they’re not going to be allowed to interview our nuclear scientists. At what point do we walk away? It’s almost a joke that we’re there, Congressman.
MP: It’s worse than a joke. I mean, on that same day, our president went to the Coast Guard Academy and said the biggest threat to America is climate change. But think of the contrast between those two commencement addresses.
MP: It is stark. It is indicative of an administration that does not take seriously the threat from the Iranian regime. And so yeah, so I don’t know what else they have to say. I don’t know why we believe them when we sit in a negotiating session, but we don’t believe them when they speak publicly. Somehow, one of them is truth telling, and the other is just for political consumption. We, you and I both know the Iranians will lie and cheat, and they will continue in their efforts to kill Americans, and we should have walked away from any deal with Iran an awfully long time ago.
HH: Yeah, I don’t understand, well, I understand how the Corker-Cardin bill will pass, but I don’t understand how the veto the President will exercise could not be overridden given this commencement speech unless he gives up anytime, anywhere inspections. Can he actually do that and come to the Congress with a straight face?
MP: Hugh, I hope you’re right. I ended up voting against the bill on the fear that this President will lean on 34 Democrats in the Senate to support whatever deal he brings back. And I hope you’re right. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could hear what the ayatollahs are saying and what the IRGC continues to do, and what the Quds Force, how it continues to spread terror throughout the world, I don’t know how you could approve a deal anywhere close to the outlines of what we now know it’s going to have to contain. But I fear greatly that there will be too many Democrats that are unprepared to override their president’s veto, and we will end up with what looks like Congressional approval of a bad deal.
HH: Now Congressman, I know you can’t give away a lot of details and specifics, but I think I can ask you this. Will you be sitting in personally on the subpoenaed interview of Sidney Blumenthal?
MP: I don’t know the date, yet. If it is humanly possible for me to be there, that is if it’s in Washington on a day I’m in Washington, I intend to be there for not only Mr. Blumenthal’s interview, but there are a number of other senior officials that are now in the queue that we’re beginning to find dates for and actually schedule. And I intend not only to be there, but to participate in the interviews as well.
HH: Well, Chairman Gowdy told me one of those people being subpoenaed is Huma Abedin. Does she go before Sidney Blumenthal or afterward? It would seem to the prosecutor in me she would come afterwards.
MP: I expect that it will be after, although I have not seen the schedule date for the appearance of either of them, yet.
HH: And in this setting, which is not the public setting, they’re under the 18USC1001 False Statements Act, so they all can be prosecuted if they lie. But what you just mentioned, you’re participating, I thought that committee staff ran these. Are there in fact opportunities for Congress members to participate and ask?
MP: Oh, goodness yeah, and I’m confident that we will, that many of us will. We have all been working to develop lines of inquiry, questions that we want answered by some of the witnesses that have appeared already and given testimony, and we’ll do the same thing in the future. And we have, of course, been invited to attend and be active participants in each of the interviews that have been conducted so far.
HH: You know, this might surprise you, but I’m actually listing on my list of interrogatories for Mr. Blumenthal. Are you guys limited to matters directly or indirectly tied to the Benghazi incident?
MP: So our charter is in fact limited in that way. That is we have a mission to solve the, to develop all of the facts surrounding the death of the four Americans on September 11th, 2012. But that’s a pretty broad scope as well, because there are many questions about how it came to be that we found ourselves at a place with such inadequate security on that absolutely critical day.
HH: One of the things I am told is that Mr. Blumenthal represented Georgian interests in that divided country to the former Secretary of State. Would you consider it within the ambit of our authority to ask if he did, as that is relevant to whether or not he would represent private interests in Libya?
MP: Boy, you know, I’d have to give it a little bit of thought, but I can say this, that it is absolutely the case with respect to each witness that their motivations for various actions are not only relevant to, but central to our very investigation. And to the extent what you proposed gets at that, I can easily imagine us inquiring about why it is certain folks had access to the Secretary of State in ways that others don’t, and how the information that they were providing to the State Department on a private email was developed and why it was presented in the way that it was.
HH: Do you know if each of the would-be interviewees have received hold letters, Congressman, so that they…
MP: I really can’t say, Hugh.
HH: Okay, I cannot wait for that. I’m going to be posting my line of interrogatories, so I’ll make sure you get a copy of that, Congressman.
MP: I’ll look for it.
HH: Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas, oh, boy, poor Sid. He needs a lawyer. He needs a lot of lawyers.
End of interview.