Sen. Inhofe on Trump tapping Pompeo as secretary of state

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 12, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHARLES PAYNE, GUEST HOST: So, another question is, are we headed for a Senate confirmation fight secretary of state-designate Mike Pompeo and his potential replacement at the CIA, Gina Haspel?

Let's go now to Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE, R—OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you.

PAYNE: First, your initial thoughts on this move, which may not have been a surprise, per se. It's been long-rumored. But certainly the time is interesting, considering all the things going on around the world.

INHOFE: You know, I have to say, Charles, by coincidence, on a completely other related subject, I talked to Tillerson while he was over in Africa. And he was meeting with a friend of mine in Ethiopia.

And, of course, that was before this happened, about a few hours before. So, I had no idea that it was going to happen. It was a surprise to me.

But you have got to keep in mind that these are two strong-willed people, with a huge successful background. And I think that it's -- as you mentioned several times before, he has expressed discontent with Tillerson in that role. So, I think he made the decision.

And, I mean, look, right now, we have this thing coming in North Korea that's going to have to be really well done. And if you will remember, Pompeo, Mike Pompeo, was very actively involved in the very harsh words that our president used very effectively to Kim Jong Il. So, I think there is a good reason for this.

PAYNE: Also, there, there -- if you judge by the stock market's reaction, certainly, there's an economic component of it as well that sort of dovetails with Gary Cohn Gary Cohn the White House, the sort of Wall Street globalists, for lack of a better term, being removed, and the economic nationalists being placed to drive hard bargains.

And it looks like the administration is zeroing in on China. We're going way past tariffs on steel and aluminum. We're talking about this unfair trade, particularly the theft of intellectual property. It looks like this administration is prepared to play hardball.

INHOFE: Well, I think they are, too.

And, by the way, I was, in on all that China stuff in the South China Sea just two weeks ago. And that is a new threat that the president is very much aware of. And it's going to have to be handled differently than it has been in the past, because we have not seen an aggressive China in quite some time.

PAYNE: Sir, I know also the border wall is something that's extremely important to you. And I have been told you are going to visit in a couple weeks.

Your thoughts on the president's trip there? And there's still some pushback that the administration is getting on this, despite the fact that they have laid out all of the reasons, including societal costs and the economic costs, of not having one.


I think he has done a good job of that. And I am seeing a movement. I was a builder and developer for 20 years down in that very area where he is right now. And so I have been there watching it. I have been in a firsthand position to see how well it does work.

And I think this president, he made a commitment -- every commitment he has made during his campaign, he is trying to keep. And he is really bending over backwards to do that. So, I think he is down there right now making it very clear. We haven't changed. We're going to get it. It's a border wall.

Until that time, people are dying. And I have seen this happen before.
The people are smuggled across, and they are put into any kind of -- every kind of slavery you can be put into. He is sensitive to that.

One last thing about Pompeo. He is so good on other issues having nothing to do with this issue. He was -- I worked with him on keeping Gitmo open. He is a real strong advocate of that. And, also, I talked to him during the time that this stupid Iran nuclear deal was put together, and he was fully aware of that.

So, you know, it just goes back. He is the right guy for the right time.

PAYNE: Right. Right. To your point, President Trump this morning referenced that Iran deal. That's one place where he and Rex Tillerson did not see eye to eye, North Korea, of course, and Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.

Senator, thank you very much. Always appreciate it.

INHOFE: Thank you, Charlie.

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