"FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace grills Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the president's statement that during an hour-long phone call Friday morning with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump did not tell his Russian counterpart not to meddle in future U.S. elections:
CHRIS WALLACE: The Mueller report that came out has completely cleared the president when it comes to collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election. As for the Kremlin, however, it said this: "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion."
But here’s how President Trump described his talk with Putin on Friday about 2016 and about possible meddling in 2020. Take a look:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse.
REPORTER: Did you tell him to meddle in the next election?
TRUMP: We didn’t discuss that. Really we didn’t discuss it.
WALLACE: Why doesn’t the president get tough with Putin about what everyone seems to agree is clear, meddling in 2016 and the threat of meddling in 2020?
POMPEO: Chris, this administration has been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessor administrations. I could go through the list but there’s not time in the show to talk about all the things we’ve done. Largest defense buildup, our new -- I mean, the list is long, Chris.
And so for you to suggest that somehow we haven’t taken election interference seriously, we do. We continue to work on it. We continue to make sure that every election is as safe as it can possibly be. The Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence agencies are all working to not only ensure that 2018 was successful -- we were -- and that 2020 will continue to be successful.
We take seriously the threat of election interference from every country, Russia included.
WALLACE: But I guess what I’m asking -- and I take your point because in terms of specific policies, the U.S. --
POMPEO: Chris, I don’t get your point. I’m confused.
WALLACE: Well, let me --
POMPEO: The administration that has been tougher on Russia than any of its predecessors and yet you continue to be fixated on something that Robert Mueller wrote down.
I’m -- I struggle with that.
WALLACE: I’m not -- I’m not fixated about Robert Mueller, I’m fixated on the president’s conversation with Vladimir Putin and in the fact that in a conversation, he doesn’t even mention meddling in 2020. And the question I’m asking -- I think it’s a legitimate one, a lot of people are asking it, sir -- is why not?
POMPEO: I talk to leaders all the time. We cover a broad range of subjects. Sometimes conversations just aren’t long enough to cover every issue that might be broad up. I’ll let the White House talk to what the president actually said in the set of remarks.
But no one should misunderstand from your question today. Your viewers should not be misled. This administration has taken seriously the threat of election interference and we’ll continue to do so.
Watch Pompeo's full interview on "FOX News Sunday":