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Pompeo: Trump threat of Iran strikes 'entirely consistent' with message of de-escalation

Pompeo: Trump threat of Iran strikes 'entirely consistent' with message of de-escalation

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE on Sunday defended President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE’s threats to launch strikes against culturally significant Iranian sites as “entirely consistent” with a policy of de-escalation.

“The Iranian leadership needs to understand that attacking Americans is not cost-free. The entire strategy has been one of deterrence,” Pompeo said on CBS’ “Face the Nation" days after the targeted killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, which prompted Iranian threats of retaliation.

“To take a terrorist off the battlefield does not increase the risk of terror… the risk of terror is increased by appeasement,” he added.

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Host Margaret Brennan pressed Pompeo on whether the U.S. would rule out killing other senior Iranian leaders, to which Pompeo demurred, saying “we’re going to do everything required to keep the American people safe.”

Pompeo insisted the U.S. was pursuing diplomatic solutions as well.

“The Iranian leadership, including my counterpart, knows precisely what President Trump believes, wants and desires, and is demanding from the Iranian leadership," he said.

Brennan asked Pompeo if he “really believe[d]” Iran would be willing to negotiate after the killing of Soleimani.

“It depends on how smart they are, it depends on how much they take seriously what President Trump has communicated,” he responded.

Brennan also questioned Pompeo on intelligence he and Trump have asserted showed an imminent attack being planned by Soleimani but which has not been made public, and which intelligence figures and members of Congress have pushed back against.

Pompeo would not say whether the imminent threat remained after Soleimani’s killing, telling Brennan “there remain an enormous set of risks within the region and America is preparing for each and every one of them.”