Pompeo: Iran's leaders resemble the mafia

Pompeo: Iran's leaders resemble the mafia
© Anna Moneymaker

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump travels to Dover Air Force Base to meet with families of Americans killed in Syria Overnight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE on Sunday said Iran's leaders resemble "the mafia more than a government." 

"The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” Pompeo said during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

During his remarks and the Q&A afterwards, Pompeo lambasted the Iranian government and emphasized U.S. support for Iranian citizens, particularly those opposed to the regime.

Pompeo offered support for the anti-government protestors that have been rallying across the country in recent months. 

"The specific grievances differ," Pompeo said. "But all those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: they have been ill-treated by a Revolutionary regime. Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability and consent."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE in May stepped back from former President Obama's Iran nuclear deal, restoring heavy U.S. sanctions against Iran. The deal limited Tehran's nuclear ability in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions, but America's departure has left Iran vulnerable to reinstated sanctions. 

Pompeo since May has ramped up rhetoric against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's government. He threatened to impose the "strongest sanctions in history" if Iran did not take dramatic steps towards denuclearization. 

The secretary of State described the U.S.'s current strategy toward Iran as a "pressure campaign" to get the Iranian government to pull back from aggressive behavior. 

"We are asking all nations who are sick and tired of the Islamic Republic’s destructive behavior to join our pressure campaign," Pompeo said. 

Pompeo further lambasted Iranian religious leaders as "hypocritical holy men" who amass wealth through corruption and exploitation of Iran's people.

"Iran's leaders have enriched themselves from corruption," Pompeo said.

After his prepared remarks, Pompeo fielded questions about U.S. immigration policy toward Iranian "civil society," including students who want to study at American universities. 

The Trump administration's travel ban includes Iran, which means even those unaffiliated with the Iranian government cannot travel to the U.S. without a waiver. The ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last month, has left many Iranian students and families in the U.S. in limbo, cut off from their families in their home countries. 

"Iran continues to deny us the basic data-sharing systems that dozens of countries have already provided us," Pompeo said, explaining the ban. "We'd like Iran do to that. We still allow students to come in."

He added the Trump administration prioritizes vetting all those who enter the country.