ABC’s Stephanopoulos to Pompeo: ‘Why Is the President Threatening Iran with War Crimes?’

On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo why President Donald Trump was “threatening Iran with war crimes.”

Stephanopoulos was referencing the president’s tweet.

Partial transcript as follows:

STEPHANOPOULOS: And on the face of this, we are seeing new threats from Iran, and a strong counter-threat overnight from President Trump. I want to show a tweet he put overnight.

He said: Let this serve as a warning that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites, representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago, some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, will be hit very fast and very hard.

As you know, the Geneva Conventions outlaw attacks on cultural objects and places of worship. Our own DOD war manual discusses the protection of cultural property.

So, why is the president threatening Iran with war crimes?

POMPEO: Yes. We’ll behave lawfully. We’ll behave inside the system. We always have and we always will, George. You know that.

The president was getting to this point. In the past, previous administrations had allowed Shia militias to take shots at us, and in the past, we responded in theater, trying to challenge and attack everybody who was running around with AK-47 or a piece of indirect artillery.

We’ve made a very different approach. We’ve told the Iranian regime, enough. You can’t get away with using proxy forces and think your homeland will be safe and secure.

We’re going to respond against the actual decision-makers, the people who are causing this threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We’re going to take this seriously and we’re going to defend the American people at every turn, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, just to be clear, when the president said he had 52 Iranian sites, including sites important to the Iranian culture, that wasn’t accurate?

POMPEO: George, I’ve seen what we are planning in terms of the target set. I’m sure the Department of Defense is continuing to develop options. The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed with a singular mission, of protecting and defending America.

President Trump has been diligent about that. He doesn’t want war. Talked about this repeatedly. He is a reluctant participant in this. But he will never shy away from protecting America.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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