Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shot down a question from NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell Tuesday morning after she asked him if he planned to push back on President Trump’s threat to attack Iranian cultural sites.
Mitchell cited Trump’s call to target the cultural sites if the country hits American targets, noting that U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had pushed back on the idea because it would violate “the laws of armed conflict.”
“I’m wondering whether you would also push back in your advice or in your role,” Mitchell asked during a press conference with the secretary of state.
“You’re not really wondering, Andrea,” Pompeo responded breezily. “You’re not really wondering. I was unambiguous on Sunday. It is completely consistent with what the president has said.”
“We will take — every action we take will be consistent with the international rule of law,” he continued. “The American people can rest assured that that’s the case.”
Pompeo argued that it is the Iranian government—not the U.S.— that has done serious damage to Persian culture by denying religious and cultural freedoms with their oppressive regime.
“Let me tell you what’s done damage to the Persian culture. It’s not the United States of America. It’s the Ayatollah,” Pompeo said. “If you want to look at who has denied religious freedom, if you want to know who has denied the Persian culture which is rich and steeped in history and intellect, and they’ve denied the capacity for that culture to continue.”
The Sec. of State also pointed out that Iran denies its citizens the right to celebrate certain holidays and mourn the deaths of family members killed by the regime.
He ended the presser shortly thereafter.
"You're not really wondering, Andrea"
This is how you respond to the far-left media gotcha questions
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) January 7, 2020
Over the weekend, Trump threatened to order strikes on 52 Iranian sites if the country retaliated for the killing of Iranian designated terrorist Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others,” the President tweeted on Saturday. “He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
The president, who has a history of negotiating with “strategic bluster” to meet foreign policy objectives, stressed on Saturday that if Iran hits the U.S., they will regret it.
“If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!” he tweeted. “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
He added: “These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
Playing the part of the good cop, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said late Monday he would not comply with any order from the president that constituted a war crime.
During Tuesday’s presser, Pompeo did say that the president would respond decisively if Iran retaliates against U.S. targets.
“In the event that Iran makes another bad choice, the president will respond in the way that he did last week, which was decisive, serious,” he told reporters. The Secretary said the objective was to send Iran a message “about the constraints that we’re going to place on that regime so it doesn’t continue.”
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 7, 2020
Pompeo also laughed at the Iranian propaganda that is being promoted in the U.S. media about Soleimani being on an supposed “peace mission” in Iraq.
.@SecPompeo responds to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's statement that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission when he was killed outside the Baghdad International Airport: "Zarif is a propagandist of the first order…it's fundamentally false." pic.twitter.com/pAJUmZMsDd
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 7, 2020
Here are Pompeo’s full remarks before taking questions from the media: