The Star News Network Senior Reporter Laura Baigert Details Mike Pompeo Interview

Laura Baigert


Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed The Star News Network’s Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmaker line to describe her interview with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by our senior reporter for The Star News Network and The Tennessee Star. She’s interviewed former President Donald Trump exclusively in person. And on Saturday, she interviewed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in person. Good morning, Laura.

Baigert: Good morning, Michael. How are you?

Leahy: Tell us about that interview. What was that experience like for you?

Baigert: It was quite an honor. Secretary Pompeo is obviously a really smart guy. I should have better words to describe him than that but he has a wealth of information and is really a lot more personable up close than he comes across when he’s interviewed or making a speech. He was quite good company.

Leahy: He was good company. And, of course, we had the exclusive interview prior to his featured speech at the Williamson County event Saturday night in Franklin at the Embassy Suites. We were in there. It was kind of fun. We were waiting. They had the security people coming in.

I was there – some questions I asked him that we reported at Breitbart. And then you had questions for The Star News Network. Tell us about the question you posed and his reaction.

Baigert: My question went back to a forum of the National Governors Association winter meeting in 2020. This is actually before COVID really hit hard and we knew the impact of it, and also the Chinese Communist Party’s involvement in it.

Secretary Pompeo actually volunteered to speak at that event because he had seen an email that went from some Chinese entity to a governor talking about some deals to be made and then also trying to control relationships with Taiwan.

And then it dawned on Secretary Pompeo that maybe the governors aren’t aware of how powerful they are and the influence that they have on national security issues by the arrangements that they’re making in their states.

So he got up to speak in front of this group. And right around that time, it was publicized after, but he probably was aware – he was definitely aware of it that at the time he made his remarks – that a Chinese think tank had ranked each of the 50 governors as to their willingness to have relations with China.

And they were rated to be friendly, hardline, or ambiguous. And that created quite a stir amongst the governors when Pompeo revealed that. My question to him was, what did he see in the way that the governors reacted to that, not only in the moment, but then forward?

Would they change the way that they interacted with Chinese entities? And are they acting differently now under the Biden administration than under the more America First agenda of President Trump and Secretary Pompeo? It was pretty interesting because as soon as the topic came up, he got a big grin across his face.

And I think that was a big deal. Most secretaries of state don’t have a lot to do with – within the United States. So he made it a point to have those kinds of interactions. And he talked about how the governors weren’t aware that they were scrambling at that moment, probably checking in with their chiefs of staff to find out where they fell on the list.

And there were 17 governors who fell in that friendly list, including Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. He talked about how well they didn’t know then, but they know now, and they need to change the way that they’re interacting and to be more concerned.

He talked about Confucius Institutes and how the Chinese have just infiltrated our schools. And, of course, we did have some legislation to that effect. It was probably not strong enough to deal with the big concern there.

And he also said that we all need to do more, which is a big takeaway there. That we all need to do more. That China is a real challenge. And that we need to decouple from some specific entities that threaten our national security, like TikTok and Huawei.

Leahy: What I found interesting, you very clearly asked him about Governor Bill Lee, who was one of, I guess, 17 governors at this China think tank back in February of 2020 that Pompeo pointed out, said that they were friendly.

The think tank said they were friendly to China. You wanted to say, well, what’s happened in that year and a half since? He did not directly address that, did he?

Baigert: No. You could spend half a day with somebody like him picking his brain as to all the things that we need to. It was obvious also in that National Governors Association forum in early 2020, that he wasn’t looking to call people out. He wanted to give them some space to absorb what was happening and to make adjustments on their own.

The key is that there’s only a handful of people who will probably really know whether some significant changes in the way that the governors operate have actually been implemented or not.

He’s one of those key people who could give us that insight. Certainly, that would be good to know. We get an assessment from someone as to whether we’ve made changes in the state.

Leahy: I think we’ll follow up with Governor Lee and see what he’s done in a year and a half to get off that China-friendly list. We’ll see. Here’s an interesting question. There is a lot of speculation about Pompeo’s political future. Tell us what you heard from him about his travels and where he’s going to be. And what’s your interpretation of that is?

Baigert: He would be viewed as one of the top candidates if President Trump were not going to run again in 2024. And Secretary Pompeo has formed a PAC and is traveling around the United States. He’s already been to Iowa.

He told us that he would be heading to New Hampshire within the month. Those are key battleground states in the presidential primary. It is interesting. He did look a little coy and had maybe had a little twinkle in his eye about –

(Leahy chuckles) Until we know for sure what Trump is going to do for a lot of reasons, it would be crazy for people to try to go up against him. And there’s plenty of time. He’s young yet.

Leahy: Yes.

Baigert: He’s only 58.

Leahy: West Point, class of ’86. Same class as Congressman Mark Green.

Baigert: And Mark Esper. And he had two other very close friends that he graduated with it, he started a couple of businesses with in Kansas. And then they actually came into the Trump administration as well. He certainly is well-rounded between his military experience, business experience, being in Congress, CIA, and Secretary of State.

He has probably one of the most impressive resumes we’re going to see. There are not many people who have that kind of well-rounded in every aspect of adult life. He checks all the boxes.

Leahy: You know what struck me, Laura, when we were there as he came in, we’re waiting in this room. It’s a big room with a conference table and the cameras are set up, and we’ve got our audio guys there and got cameras. They did a great job on this, by the way. And then the security people come in, they look around. The security people didn’t say anything, did they?

Baigert: No.

Leahy: They just looked around. And then he came bustling in. What struck me about that, Laura, is he was very personable. And that surprised me.

Baigert: Other than probably having an extremely tight schedule and he’s getting sort of someone holding everybody else around him to task so that he can get to each of the events that he needs to be at. There was very little fanfare or whatever, just kind of business.

But then once the business was over definitely there was a nice little let-down-your-guard kind of thing and have a couple more personal type of words shared between us. It was very nice.

Leahy: By the way, Laura, you are going to continue your reporting. You’re going to go to the Trump rally in Alabama. August 21st?

Baigert: That’s right.

Leahy: More from The Star News Network and Laura Baigert, emerging as not just a Tennessee State House reporter, but a National reporter getting these exclusive interviews. By the way, your interview with Mike Pompeo is now at It’s the upper right-hand column lead story.

The Drudge competitor that’s doing great out there. Laura Baigert, it is always great to talk with you. Thanks so much. Great job interviewing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Baigert: Thank you, Michael.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.














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