Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly ended a State Department briefing on Tuesday and walked off, refusing to answer follow-up questions on Donald Trump’s threats to Iranian cultural sites.
At the Tuesday briefing, Pompeo was asked by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell whether he would push back against a demand from Trump to target cultural sites in Iran after the Pentagon said on Monday it would refuse orders to attack such sites, noting that it would violate international law.
Mitchell specifically cited comments from Trump on Sunday aboard Air Force One justifying attacks on cultural sites.
“They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said, doubling down on an earlier tweet that stated he planned to hit 52 sites that were “very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture” if Iran retaliated after the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Earlier that same day, Pompeo had told Fox News that Trump “didn’t say he’d go after a cultural site.”
But on Tuesday, Pompeo claimed that there had been no inconsistencies in his statements or those from Trump: “I was unambiguous on Sunday, it is completely consistent with what the president has said. We will take every action we take with the international rule of law, and the American people can rest assured that that’s the case.”
Pompeo then went on to say that “the Ayatollah” was to blame for “damage to the Persian culture.”
“The real risk to Persian culture does not come from the United States of America, there is no mistake about that,” Pompeo concluded.
Multiple reporters then raised their hands to ask follow-up questions about his statement, but instead of addressing them Pompeo said told them to “have a good day” and walked off the stage.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.