NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a wide range of world issues Friday in Nashville, with the divisions over Ukraine and the removal of U.S. soldiers from Syria included in a series of short interviews with local media.
After conducting the interviews Friday morning, Secretary Pompeo spoke before a worldwide gathering of Christian counselors at the Opryland Hotel.
In a one-on-one interview with News 2, the secretary of state defended President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. soldiers from northeast Syria this past week.
“President Erdogan made the decision to invade Syria,” said Pompeo in response to a question of what he would tell the nation’s largest Kurdish population-based in Nashville.
Secretary Pompeo said Turkish soldiers under the direction of their president “were coming down in significant numbers” from Turkey.
It meant Kurdish fighters in the area were now on their own.
For Nashville’s Kurdish population, the removal of U.S soldiers in Syria is under protest by much of the community, but Secretary Pompeo defended the White House action.
“President Trump made the right decision to get those American soldiers out of harm’s way,” responded Pompeo.”I am going to speak to European–my European counterparts this afternoon. We are mobilizing the world that will protect the Kurdish people there in northeast Syria.”
He cited economic and diplomatic efforts as tools to protect the Kurds.
It’s only one of several fires facing Secretary Pompeo which includes an impeachment inquiry by U.S. House Democrats.
Flames of the President’s phone call to the Ukrainian President in July still burn as Democrats say it was to dig up dirt on a potential challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Secretary Pompeo responded that “President Trump’s phone call was consistent with the objectives” of the administration.
He cited the first objective as supporting Ukraine from further Russian invasion that happened a few years back in the southeast part of the country.
“Our second mission was when America provides taxpayer dollars, that they go to the right places–that corruption does not drive that into someone else’s pocket as opposed to the purpose that money was intended for and President Trump has said ‘We are very concerned about Ukrainian corruption, we want to drive it out,’ ” said Secretary Pompeo.
Republicans across the country have questioned the business dealings in Ukraine of former Vice-President Biden’s son.
Democrats nationwide see the issue much differently, but during his speech to the Christian counselors, the secretary offered a glimpse of his decision making in a chaotic world.
“I need to make sure that I listen,” said Secretary Pompeo. “That I scrutinize each decision before I say one is right or wrong or the truth is somewhere in between.”
As for word on the last day of a top senior aide’s resignation in the state department, the secretary said he could not talk specifically about personnel matters, but he did say in general what the aide told him.
“I have known Mike McKinley for quite some time. He has been with the state department for 37 years and he told me for lots of good and sufficient reasons for him and his family–wanted to go on and begin the next phase of his life,” added the secretary.
The secretary’s team allowed seven-minutes for the local media interviews.
They were timed almost to the second.