April 5, 2019: Interview With Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt of Fox & Friends

On April 5, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the issue of immigration and the border, the situation in Venezuela and support from Russia to the Maduro regime, and President Trump’s recent decision to cut aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The transcript below was edited to only include issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean.

QUESTION: Okay, there’s the President yesterday being very clear, we’re going to close the border in a year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is here. He said unless they stop the flow of drugs and migrants, in a year we’re going to close the border maybe and – but we will start slapping tariffs. So it sounds like the President is giving them a little breathing room rather than closing it tomorrow.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Steve, I think that’s right. But make no mistake, Congress shouldn’t have any breathing room. We’ve got to change these laws. This is a real crisis at the border, not only the people – the tragic stories that you hear about folks coming across, the risk to security it presents. I think about this as the Secretary of State every day – the drugs that are coming across the border: fentanyl, opioids, other substances moving is a serious issue. President Trump is using every tool in his toolkit to try to stop this.

QUESTION: I’m sure you’re in communication with the administration down in Mexico. What are they saying? Are they saying they’re going to work with the President and they’re going to stop these migrants from crossing our border?

SECRETARY POMPEO: They are. They’re saying they’re going to do it.

QUESTION: They are? What are they going to do?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we need to see action. So it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s one thing to say it. What we need to do is see not only that they have the will, which they have communicated to us they do; now we need to make sure they have the capacity. So we’ve worked with them to help them for years and years. We’ve provided lots of resources, not only to Mexico but to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador as well. They need to get a handle on the situation in their countries. We’re happy to help them if they need technical assistance to do that, but it is going to be about their decision, and they have to do it, and if not, the President is going to ensure that we protect our nation.

QUESTION: If we can pivot over to Venezuela, you guys made the bold move to say the standing government under Maduro should not stand, and you have Guaido who says, “I’ll take over,” and you look at him as the rightful leader of that country. As it’s about to fall, in come the Russians again, like they did in Syria, and they’re propping up Maduro. Reports are that they’re bringing even more troops into that country. With the Russians there, Maduro stays. How do you stop this game? Because we saw the script already and it worked in Syria. How do you stop it from working in Venezuela?

SECRETARY POMPEO: This is our neighborhood. This is going to be fundamentally different. President Trump’s made very clear that we have an important national interest in ensuring that the Venezuelan people get the democracy that they deserve. This is – Brian, you know – a once-rich nation. We’re going to return them to that. And so I don’t want to talk about the options that we are working our way through, but the President was clear. The Russians must leave and the President has also been clear Maduro must go.


SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re working to deliver on each of those.

QUESTION: Have you spoke to Lavrov and was there – is there a shot across the bow to him, your counterpart in Russia? Because it’s really these two guys making all these decisions.


QUESTION: Can you let me know how that – how did that conversation go? How would you describe it?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Direct. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And do they – do they show any sign of budging? Because if their troops don’t move, then Maduro stays, and then we end up in a standoff and people suffer.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I haven’t seen any evidence that they’ve started to move out. Indeed, there’s risk that it will get worse before it gets better, but we’ve made very clear that the costs will be high. We’ve done the same thing with the Cubans, who are also there, helping Maduro stay in power. We’re working with the Chinese, who also have interests there. We’ve built out a coalition of now 50-plus countries that are working to make sure the Venezuelan people have the chance that they deserve.

QUESTION: Down in Central America, the Triangle countries – you mentioned them a moment ago – El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala. The President cut off aid to those countries officially.


QUESTION: Have you heard from them?




QUESTION: I’d imagine they were direct.

SECRETARY POMPEO: They’re – they’ve made commitments. They made commitments to the State Department and to DHS. We’ve seen them begin to marshal resources to try and take down the big piece of this, the caravans that are moving across, and we’ve seen them take real actions. I want to give them credit for that.

QUESTION: Like what?

SECRETARY POMPEO: They begin to put police on the streets, run checkpoints, put some security. Look, they have some limited capacity challenges too. Controlling one’s border is hard; we know that. But the first step is recognition that you have a problem and that American support is contingent on changes in your behavior.

QUESTION: So they’re doing more now —


QUESTION: — than they did six months ago?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Six months, even as recently as two or three weeks ago.


SECRETARY POMPEO: They’re doing more, but, Steve, there’s still more that they can do. They have this responsibility to ensure their folks do not flee across their borders.

Source: United States Department of State

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