Hugh Hewitt’s Masterclass Mike Pompeo Interview

State Department
Foggy Bottom

Hugh Hewitt’s Masterclass Pompeo Interview

By Kyle Andrew Brown

Washington June 24 – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hardly knows if Trump will keep his nose out of Foggy Bottom’s business while his presidency craters American Democracy. Yet he demonstrated in his weekend interview with NBC-MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt a competency sadly lacking in the White House Cabinet Room.

In Congress, Mike Pompeo rummaged around this and that House of Representatives Intelligence Committees. Deep enough to be associated with the Select Committee on Benghazi set up to stick a knife into Hillary Cinton’s back. And to enrich Republican fund raising coffers. The Koch Brothers dumped money here and there into Pompeo’s election campaigns.

But Bengazi is a long ago yesterday. And to the electorate Pompeo has not become known as a crucial kingpin of Clinton’s destruction. Nor was he a regular figure on the cable news shows. So when there was a dearth of qualified, experienced intel candidates to take on as Trump’s CIA Director – well there was Mike Pompeo ready for Langley.

Mike’s tenure at CIA has pretty much turned out well for all concerned. The guy has a solid analytical approach for gathering background details. Then knitting together the parts: The issues at hand with their timelines, players, risk assessments and politics.

The conceit surrounding the kickoff of the Trump-Kim Jong Un Summit is that Trump just sorta wondered around the White House where he just sorta bumped into the guys talking up North Korea.

And Trump blurted out: “Let’s make a big splash on the telly and go meet with the guy,”

But we know better. Cause there are all these White House whisperers floating around. The Steve Bannons, Stephen Millers, Kellyanne Conways and Sean Hannity’s that form the inept Kitchen Cabinet of Trump’s Reality Show presidency.

We’ve not been told that some Light Bulb of Compassion switched on inside Trumps head.

C’mon. Trump didn’t say: “Let’s go get some us some hostages!”

More likely, Mike Pompeo and his people over at Langley were part of the Intel Community desperately looking for an escape route from the treacherous Trump saber rattling with Kim Jong Un: The cruelest despot on the planet.

What we do know for certain now is that whatever planning and analytical framework CIA Director Pompeo was immeshed in at Langley he did know his brief. And that served him spectacularly well when he and the Korean Peninsula folders moved over to State.

In his taking over the State portfolio, Pompeo has inherited a disaster that has stripped the Department of not just talented diplomats. But, more crushingly, the lifetimes of knowledge, skills and abilities that encapsulate the gathered wisdom that passes between the generations.

Trump’s trashing and demolishing federal Departments and Agencies may not in the first instance be elements underpinning his Impeachment Articles. But Trump has committed a grave sin against the fragile fabric of our national governance. A venial sin more vile than had the Capitol Rotunda collapsed in on the Legislative Chambers during the Washington Earthquake of 2001.

Secretary Pompeo put a delicate spin on Hugh Hewitt’s initial observation that there sure are a lot of empty offices at State. Well, Pompeo answered – carefully not naming his predecessor – “We’ll soon have our ambassador in South Korea.”

Ahem. Well, that be a start. Some newbie just walking into town for the first time wouldn’t catch just how much baggage was contained in Hewitt’s question and the Secretary’s mildly toss away cheery response.

Pompeo came across in the Hewitt interview as a guy whose friendly earnestness has served him well. Balanced by his steadfastness.

It was Pompeo’s big smile which alone flooded this week’s Cabinet Meeting. A motley collection of mostly grouchy old white men. And the Education Lady was there, too. All glaring across the mahogany grain of the Richard Nixon Cabinet Table, avoiding eye contact.

Homeland Security’s Kristjen Nielsen was In The House, too. So she could gather up all of Trump’s glowing accolades: What a great job Kristjen is doing!

Hugh Hewitt asked if Russia is Number One in the United States’ competitive environment: “I do think they pose the most serious threat. And frankly for America an opportunity if we can get it right.”

However, Pompeo contrasted diplomatic postures with Russia and China by saying: “We’ve got one that’s got wealth in resources. And the other is a power that is struggling mightily.”

“We need to understand what China is doing,” referring to the “risk to America by their willingness to steal our intellectual property. Our eyes wide open to Russia’s efforts in the South China Sea. And around the world to build out a much bigger, stronger, tougher country.”

“There’s clearly things we need to know alongside them and where we have shared interests. But where we don’t we need to make sure America is properly positioned to speak to them about each of our two countries’ respective goals within the world.”

Hugh asked Pompeo to characterize his meeting last week with China’s General Xi Jinping. Was he the bad cop to Trump’s good cop?

No way, Hugh! The guy’s from Kansas!

“It was great,” Pompeo said in his folksy manner of speaking. “He was very kind to visit with me late one evening. I was returning to the United States and I wanted to stop in. China will have a very important role to play as we work our way through the challenging way of denuclearizing North Korea.”

Pompeo’s upbeat characterization of his talks with Xi Jinping sharply contrasted with his characterization of Russia’s standing. The pouting and unpopular National Security Advisor John Bolton is set early in the week to be in Moscow getting the lay of the land within the Kremlin.

The Russian leader would like ever so much as did the North Korean despot Kim Jong Un to parade Trump around the Kremlin. But John Bolton’s presence in Moscow is a mere formality. He serves as Trump’s National Security Advisor only by default. Bolton may have cache sitting on the couch next to the FOX and FRIENDS cast at 6 a.m. in the morning up in New York City.

But Bolton’s sour demeanor plays nowhere in the intel community where a National Security Advisor needs to be respected both for his analytical contributions and have the full confidence of a regular president. What’s left for Bolton in his little West Wing office are the hapless Trump Party caucuses members here and there that flip by on his Roll-A-Dex.  

And surely if John Bolton cannot walk alone through the corridors of Foggy Bottom without being taken down, how can the guy do much more in Moscow but sign the Guest Register at the hotel?

It’s Xi Jinping who wants to maintain warm ties to Trump in order to maintain the steady outflow of capital out of the United States to purchase Chinese goods made at rock bottom labor rates. That inflow of United States capital in turn used to finance China’s own voracious appetite for global metal, livestock, agriculture and energy commodities.

And as well, Xi Jinping wants to steer Trump away from too close an interest in China’s construction of the string of artificial islands in the South China Sea. It is a 1.35 million-square-mile body that goes south of China and is ringed in by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

With their pop-up military air fields. 

So Hewitt asked the Secretary: “Is it possible you and the President will try to flip the script and make nice with Russia because China represents for the United States a bigger competitor?”

Here the Secretary brought Trump into the discussion:

“The President has been unambiguous since he took office. There are places where Russia is working against the United States. And many places where we work together. I had a chance to do that in my previous role as CIA Director.”

The Secretary continued: “Where we worked with the Russians on counter terrorism issues. Where the two nations had shared interests. So, we are having conversations with our Russian counterparts where we have overlapping interests. But protecting American interests where we do not.”

@msnbcmonitor





Phil Hands

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