Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Remarks at Media Stakeout Following White House Meeting

October 16, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C.  – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for a media stakeout outside a White House meeting with Members of Congress and President Donald Trump regarding his disastrous decision in Syria, which was opposed by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 354 to 60.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  We were invited to this meeting with the President.  It comes at a very difficult time for him.  Earlier today, the House of Representatives voted, what was it, 354-60 in opposition to the actions he has taken in Syria.  It calls upon the President to urge the Turks to exercise restraint, for us to have humanitarian assistance to the – some of the Kurds, children are being killed there – and, very, very importantly, most importantly, it asks for a clear plan on how we're going to fight ISIS.

I think that vote, the size of the vote – more than two-to-one of the Republicans voted to oppose what the President did – probably got to the President, because he was shaken up by it.  And that is why we couldn't continue in the meeting, because he was just not relating to the reality of it.

Again, we are proud of our men and women in uniform.  Those who have been in Syria have conducted themselves in a way that makes us all very proud and I conveyed that to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  We had some questions about ISIS and I’m going to defer to distinguished Leader from New York, well, from the Senate from New York, who focused on ISIS in the meeting.

Leader Schumer.  Thank you, Speaker and thank you, Leader Hoyer.

I told the President being from New York, as he was, we’re particularly aware of the problems that terrorism that an organization like ISIS can create.  And, the fact that someone no less than General Mattis has said that ISIS has been enhanced, that the danger of ISIS is so much greater, worries all of us.

I asked the President what his plan was to contain ISIS.  He didn't really have one.  He said, ‘The Turks and the Syrians will guard the ISIS prisoners.’  I said, ‘Is there any intelligence evidence that the Turks and the Syrians will have the same interests that the Kurds or we did in guarding ISIS and the Secretary of Defense was?’  Thank God he was honest.  He said, ‘We don't have that evidence.’

And so, I said, ‘Then how can we think that this is a plan when there are Syrians and Turks who are not our friends who ISIS, if they escape, does them very little harm, how can we let this happen?’  They didn't have any good answer.  

This is appalling.  The President had no plan, no real plan for containing ISIS other than relying on the Syrians and the Turks.  Then why did we spend a decade, billions of dollars and lost lives in trying to curtail ISIS if on a phone call, on a whim, the President is going to undo all of that and turn this over to the Turks and the Syrians?  

I would also say one other thing.  He was insulting, particularly to the Speaker.  She kept her cool completely, but he called her a third rate politician.  He said that there are communists involved and ‘you guys might like that.’  

I mean, this was not a dialogue.  It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.  Particularly, the fact of how to curtail ISIS, a terrorist organization that aims to hurt the United States in our homeland.

Steny.

Leader Hoyer.  Just briefly, you're going to hear the President say we walked out.  We were offended deeply by his treatment of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  

The President in my view has created a crisis in the Middle East, a crisis that undermines the world's confidence in America.  This crisis required a rational, reasonable discussion between those of us elected by the American people to set policy.

Unfortunately, the meeting deteriorated into a diatribe, as Leader Schumer has said, and a very offensive accusations being made by the President of the United States.  

I have served with six Presidents.  I have been in many, many, many meetings like this.  Never have I seen a President treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government of the United States.

I’ll yield to the Speaker and to the Leader for questions.

Speaker Pelosi.  I just want to say this other thing, and that is I think the President was very shaken up by the fact that 300 and – what was it?

Leader Hoyer.  354.

Speaker Pelosi.  354, I had to make sure I had the number correct, and that means the majority, a big majority of the Republicans voted to –

Leader Hoyer.  There are 194 Republicans, 60 voted against a Resolution which said the President's decision was wrong and dangerous and lacking in giving our allies confidence that we would stick with them in time of trouble.

Leader Schumer.  And, one point I want to make, that I hadn't made a moment ago, so Leader McConnell said he thought the President's decision was wrong.  He said it in strong terms.  I beseech Leader McConnell to put the same Resolution that passed the House on the Floor of the Senate.   It’s a bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Senator Menendez, a Democrat, and the Senator from Indiana, Young, a Republican.  And, we urge Leader McConnell not just to condemn the President, but put this resolution on the Floor because the safety of America, the safety of the Kurds are in the hands of one person, President Trump.   And the best way to pressure him is a strong bipartisan resolution, such as passed the House, to undo the damage he has done.

Q: Thank you.

Speaker Pelosi.  What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown, sad to say.

Q: Speaker Pelosi, did the impeachment inquiry come up?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, it did not come up.  Not at all.  No, it did not come up.  It did not come up.

Q: When he called you a communist?  Can you just elaborate on –

Speaker Pelosi.  No, he did not.  He didn't call us a communist.

Leader Schumer.  He said – let’s just clarify that, he said the communists are taking over –

Leader Hoyer.  That some of ISIS were communists and you would be happy.

Leader Schumer.  And you would be happier.   

Speaker Pelosi.  And that might make you happy.

Leader Schumer.   And that might make you happy.

Leader Hoyer.  And, the Speaker said, none of that –

Q: And, did you all walk out or what happened?

Leader Hoyer.  Yes, we walked out.

Q: At that point?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, later.

Leader Schumer.  When he started calling Speaker Pelosi a third rate politician.

Speaker Pelosi.  To which, I said, ‘I wish you were a politician, Mr. President Trump, then you would know the art of the possible.’

Q: Did the Republicans stay?

Leader Schumer.  Some of the Members on both sides stayed behind.  They wanted questions.

I waited a moment to ask him the question about intelligence reports on the Turks and Syrians guarding ISIS, which I think is –

Speaker Pelosi.   We also expressed our concern that we have been asking for an all-Member, that being bipartisan, briefing to the House of Representatives on what is happening in Syria. 

It was scheduled for tomorrow and they canceled it.  And so, that was part of our question too: why are you not briefing all of the Members of Congress?

Leader Schumer.  Thank you, everybody.