LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke at the University of Louisville on Monday. His remarks came ahead of a trip to London for the NATO summit.

A small crowd including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attended the speech at the University Club. Pompeo's remarks focused on foreign relations and how the U.S. supports countries who are fighting for political and religious freedom.

"Political freedom goes hand in hand with economic freedom and economic flourishing, and trade with these nations benefits the people here in Kentucky and all across America and we support it too because it's simply the right thing to do," Pompeo said. 

On the topic of Latin America, Pompeo says Bolivia has appointed its first ambassador to the U.S in 11 years and Venezuelans are pushing for democratic leadership, among other protests urging change in the region.

Pompeo mentioned a Kentucky connection, saying he was stationed at Fort Knox while serving in the military. He spoke briefly and answered a few questions posed by McConnell.

Outside the center, there were a few protesters standing in the cold with signs calling on Pompeo to testify in the impeachment inquiry. The Secretary did not discuss the impeachment while in Louisville.

Pompeo blasted the House on Monday for scheduling impeachment hearings while President Donald Trump is abroad.

Pompeo said it’s “very unfortunate” for the House Judiciary Committee to hold its hearing Wednesday at the same time that Trump is representing the U.S. at this week’s NATO summit in London.

Pompeo told “Fox & Friends” that there is a long tradition of supporting a president when he is traveling overseas and shouldn’t be distracted by problems at home while discussing international issues with allies.

"I regret that they've chosen to hold these hearings at the same time that the president and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe, to London, to work on these important matters," Pompeo said. "It's very unfortunate."

Separately, Pompeo declined to say whether he planned to step down as secretary of state to run for a Senate seat from Kansas.

The 70th U.S. Secretary of State spoke on the U of L campus as part of the McConnell Center's Distinguished Speaker Series.

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