April 24, 2018

Corker Praises Favorable Committee Vote on Mike Pompeo’s Nomination for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON – During an appearance on Fox News “America’s Newsroom”, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the committee vote yesterday to advance Mike Pompeo’s nomination for Secretary of State to the full Senate, the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington, the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. role in Syria, and possible talks with North Korea. Excerpts from the interview follow.

On the favorable vote in committee on Mike Pompeo’s nomination for Secretary of State: “Mike Pompeo, I think, is going to be an outstanding Secretary of State, as I told the president this morning. He’ll be the first Secretary of State since I’ve been here that actually has the kind of relationship with the president where it is one of trust, where they listen to each other. And I think it will bode well for our country… [Senator] Chris Coons did what senators are supposed to do, and I’m so proud of him. I talked to him multiple times yesterday. I know that he came to the Senate, like myself and many others, to make a difference, and he did so last night… Mike Pompeo now will move with a positive recommendation to the Senate floor. It would have been historic for him to have gone with a negative recommendation. Something good for our country happened last night. It was done in a bipartisan way. Our committee, as you know, is an island of bipartisanship here in the Capitol, and I’m really proud of the way the committee operates.”

On remarks from President Donald J. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron today at the White House: “I talked to the president this morning before he went out to deliver his remarks… I thought both of their comments were outstanding, and I think it bodes well for the future, and I really think they acquitted themselves very well this morning… The Europeans have been our closest allies. The French people have been the longest. And I think it speaks to unity that’s good for our country, good for people of the West, good for people who believe in democracy and human rights and strength. And I’m happy that this meeting is taking place in the manner that it is.”

On the future of the Iran nuclear deal: “I think that the issue, though, is the sunset clause. You know we’re working with the French, German, and UK leaders to deal with the ballistic testing issue and also the inspections issue. What the president wants to see happen, though, is doing away with the sunset provisions that really after year ten cause Iran to be off and running. And I think if we can get some work done there maybe, maybe, the president decides to stay in the agreement. But it will take [Emmanuel] Macron, [Angela] Merkel, and also Prime Minister [Theresa] May to come along with creating a framework that is better than what we have now.”

On the U.S. role in Syria: “I was really glad [Secretary] Mattis intervened. We’ve got 2,200 troops in Syria that are giving intelligence and logistical support to the Kurds, which are doing all the fighting. We have lost one soldier, which is one too many. The Kurds have lost 4,000 soldiers. They’re now being attacked by both Turkey and Syria. And we need to finish the work there. You heard [Presidents Trump and Macron] both talking about terrorism just a moment ago. If you think about the 2016 race… it was all about ISIS. And now we’ve taken their footprint down to just five percent of what it was at that time. So, we need to finish that work. Our troops do not need to leave until we’ve completed our work, otherwise it will be just like what happened in other countries when we left too soon. But we’ll be finished with that activity, hopefully, in the near future.”

On potential talks with North Korea: “It’s going to take a lot of work. This young dictator knows that if he has a deliverable nuclear weapon his fate will not be the same as [Libyan Leader Muammar] Gaddafi’s, who gave up his nuclear weapons and obviously is now a dead man. So, it’s not going to happen through charm. It’s going to happen through continued pressure on our part. That’s the policy of this administration, which I support. I do think that Mike Pompeo having gone there, I think people now realize our back channel to North Korea always been through the intelligence community. That’s why Pompeo being there was the right thing. I think with him on board, with John Bolton on board, I think we can do some realistic things there, but’s it’s going to take some time for that to happen. But I’m glad the two leaders are talking. I think that’s progress. Obviously, Kim Jong Un has learned a little bit about public relations and certainly is putting his best food forward, but I know the administration understands that’s what it is and understands there is a lot of tough work ahead.”