Earlier this week, I traveled to Brussels, Belgium and Sochi, Russia as part of the press delegation accompanying US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his latest overseas trip. Pompeo made headlines over his meetings with top Russian officials, including Vladimir Putin -- and as we landed back in the United States early Wednesday morning, news was breaking about the serious precautions the Trump administration had begun to implement in response to what it terms 'real' and 'escalating' global threats against Americans and American interests from the Iranian regime. Though officials have been tight-lipped about the exact nature of the new intelligence, a New York Times report today suggests that the latest menace involves freshly-discovered Iranian sea-based missiles:
The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces, three American officials said. Overhead imagery showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships. Additional pieces of intelligence picked up threats against commercial shipping and potential attacks by Arab militias with Iran ties on American troops in Iraq.
I asked about this issue in my exclusive one-on-one interview with Pompeo, which will air in its entirety during the 6pm ET hour of tonight's Guy Benson Show on Fox News Radio:
.@SecPompeo gave @guypbenson intel surrounding possible new threats from Iran. You can listen to the entire one on one interview during The #GuyBensonShow 6-8 PM ET https://t.co/uhVfsjEpSq pic.twitter.com/UJ9j6khRAo— The Guy Benson Show (@GuyBensonShow) May 16, 2019
BENSON: I know that you can’t get into too much of the intelligence as you just said, but are there any additional details about the nature of the threat matrix that you’ve been seeing from Iran in the last few days? And can you comment at all on The New York Times report this morning that some of this may have been related to new images of sea-based missiles from Iran?
POMPEO: OK, it’s important for everyone to understand that this is 40 years of aggression by the Islamic Republic of Iran, so to put it into just three days or five days or seven days takes out of context the threat and the desires of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
POMPEO: So all of this – all of this is part and parcel of the challenge of a revolutionary regime that wants the 'Great Satan' and Israel to go away. So you have to take the data set along with – right – it’s always about capability and will, demonstrated will, ill will against the United States of America. So the things that you see, and I can’t comment on the New York Times story, other than to say that the things that you’ve seen us do to attempt to achieve deterrence against the Islamic Republic of Iran, from their malign activity, is a direct response to eight years of an administration that allow the terror regime to expand. Right?
During the JCPOA, we had increased missile capabilities coming out of Iran. We had their capacity to deliver harm from Houthi rebels in Yemen -- all of these things Iran did happened because the previous administration appeased the Islamic Republic of Iran. So we are pushing back, and when you push back, tension does increase. Our mission set is very clear. We know what we’re asking the Iranian leadership to do, and we are very focused on achieving that, and we’re trying to do so in a way to make sure that we keep every American diplomat and every American soldier, sailor, airman and Marine safe as well.
Later in our discussion, I asked Pompeo about one of his predecessors from the previous administration, John Kerry. President Trump has called for Kerry to potentially be prosecuted under the obscure and rarely-enforced Logan Act over his ongoing back-channels with the Iranian regime, reportedly urging Tehran to wait out the current administration. For this meddling. Senator Marco Rubio has also called for a formal investigation into Kerry's conduct. What does Pompeo make of this controversy? He made his sentiments quite clear:
.@guypbenson sat down for an exclusive interview with @SecPompeo and asked him about President Trump's suggestion to have John Kerry prosecuted under the Logan Act. You can catch the full segment tonight on The #GuyBensonShow 6-8PM ET pic.twitter.com/GnAYO0hoDh— The Guy Benson Show (@GuyBensonShow) May 16, 2019
POMPEO: It is ahistorical and completely unhelpful when previous secretaries of state are continuing to engage in the tasks that they engaged in when they were the secretary of state. I’ll leave it at that in the sense of it’s time to get off the stage for the previous administration. I understand they have different views than we have; they are entitled to those views. But talking with senior leaders around the world and suggesting to them somehow that waiting out this administration is the best course of action for those countries is something that is unheard of, it is fundamentally different than any previous administration has undertaken, and they ought to leave the foreign policy to us. And then do their best to give folks with foreign policy views that have appeased the Iranians, that allowed Chairman Kim Jong-Un to continue to advance his nuclear threat, that put us prostrate around the world -- if those are the policies they want, they should go fight for them at the ballot box.
Other policy-related elements of our exchange touched on Russian relations, Putin's reaction to the Mueller report, and Pompeo's harsh response ("sickening") to American politicians like Rep. Ilhan Omar who've been parroting Russian spin on behalf of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela. I also asked the Secretary to compare and contrast his current job with his previous post as director of the CIA, as well as a personal question about how his family is adjusting to his truly grueling travel schedule. To listen to the full interview, tune in to this evening's show, subscribe to the daily podcast, or visit our website for the embedded audio. I'll leave you with another exclusive interview from this week's trip: