Mike Pompeo just blatantly lied to Jake Tapper — here are 5 follow-up questions the CNN host should have asked
While discussing the nuclear threat from North Korea on CNN Sunday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a blatant and demonstrable lie to host Jake Tapper about President Donald Trump's stated views about the issue.
Referring to Trump celebratory tweet below, Tapper asked if Trump still believes that there's no nuclear threat from North Korea, despite CIA Director Gina Haspel's comments contradicting this claim:
Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a N… https://t.co/L9KSyYsnZi— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1528883817.0
Pompeo avoided answering this question, so Tapper switched to a different tactic. He asked instead if Pompeo believes North Korea remains a nuclear threat, which the secretary of state affirmed.
"But the president said he doesn't," said Tapper.
"That's not what he said," replied Pompeo, despite the fact that Tapper had already read the above quote. "I know precisely what he said. What he said was the efforts that had been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made, have substantially taken down the risks to the American people. It's the mission of the secretary of state and the president of the United States to keep the American people secure; we're aiming to achieve that."
"Okay," said Tapper. "I mean, that's just a direct quote, but I want to move on."
Unfortunately, Tapper decided to drop the fact that a top-ranking official had just lied to his face about what the president has said about a central threat to the United States and to the world. And in CNN's post about the video, they note the fact that Pompeo contradicted Trump in the headline without acknowledging that he provably lied about the contradiction. Tapper knows the administration is full of liars, and he appears to be so used to this fact that it's not worth dwelling on. And in fairness to Tapper, it can be hard to address such lies in real time, and there's value in exploring other questions as well, some of which were also critical.
But it seems clear he shouldn't have let the issue drop. Here are five questions he could have asked to follow up:
- Why is it so hard for anyone in the administration to simply admit that the president was wrong about something?
- Should the American people feel comfortable with Trump continuing to negotiate with Kim Jong-un when he has blatantly lied about this threat that you admit exists?
- Why should I take any of your answers seriously if I know you are willing to blatantly lie about what's written on a paper in front of my face?
- Why are you comfortable continuing to serve under a president about whom you have to tell obvious lies regarding key national security issues?
- How can any further negotiations possibly happen with the good faith of the American people and our allies when the president and the secretary of state can so directly contradict one another?
Pointlessly picking fights with administration members is often condemned as grandstanding, and Tapper would surely have faced criticism, particularly from the right, if he had pursued these lines of questioning. But moving on so quickly from such an obvious lie when the administration plays a part in normalizing this behavior, which much of the country seems all too ready to accept.
Watch the clip below: