Sen. Robert Menendez Reacts To Pompeo's Foreign Relations Committee Testimony

Sen. Robert Menendez Reacts To Pompeo's Foreign Relations Committee Testimony

By:  Ari Shapiro

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Sen. Robert Menendez, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, about the updates on Russia, North Korea and Iran that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Wednesday.

MENENDEZ: I learned that the reason that there is such concern is because no one has a clear readout of what transpired between President Trump and President Putin for over two hours. What we have is what took place at the press conference in Helsinki. And that was alarming to members on both sides of the aisle, which is why we were trying to pierce an understanding of how far he had been briefed and what elements of a conversation for over two hours were being pursued.

And, you know, it's interesting that, you know, Secretary Pompeo, when it seems to be of benefit to the administration, will suggest that he knew something. But when if not, he says it's a private conversation. It only seems to be a private conversation for President Trump because Putin and the Russian defense and public relations ministry is telling all about it. So it obviously has a much different view.”


SHAPIRO: It seems like you were trying to ask Secretary Pompeo, in so many words, do you even know what was discussed in that room? And Secretary Pompeo got a little bit indignant and kind of scoffed at the question. But do you think he does know what happened in that room?

MENENDEZ: No. I don't think he knows what happens in that room.

SHAPIRO: That's kind of shocking. He's the secretary of state, right?

MENENDEZ: It is. Well, it's kind of shocking that you go into a meeting for two hours and you don't have your secretary of state or your national security adviser or the director of National Intelligence with you because that allows the Russians to ultimately, you know, characterize the discussion as they are doing without a counter to it. And it's interesting to see that we see no counter. Therefore, when members of the committee are citing the Russian ministry of defense, they're doing it not because they believe the Russian ministry of defense, but they're looking for counter arguments.

And when the administration is unwilling to be transparent and speak to it and let us know what actually transpired, it then gives credence to what the Russians are doing. And this is a major concern. So also, when we asked him about what happened over - nearly two months ago, we haven't had a briefing and it's incredible - no member of the Senate - not any member of this committee...

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