Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports

October 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss COVID relief talks and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Andrea Mitchell.  Joining me now is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  Madam Speaker, thank you very much for joining us today. 

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.

Andrea Mitchell.  I want to ask you, where do we stand?  Because you were notably optimistic, even though the time is so short, your deadline has come and gone, but that talks were going well with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.  But now, we're hearing this from the Majority Leader.  What's going on? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, thank you.  I'm pretty happy.  I think we have a prospect for an agreement.  I do not believe that our timetable has come and gone.  We had a purpose in the timetable, which is that we would establish where we were.  Freeze the design on your position, no more discussion about nah nah nah.  What is your position?  And that is what we are coming to conclusion about now. 

There is some delay on the part of Republicans about the appropriations piece of it.  But I hope that will be resolved.  The Secretary will be back in conversation with us later today and hopefully that will be resolved.  So, it's just a question, then, of weighing the equities.  Is this worth that? 

But we do need more money, and we needed it to be spent in a way to crush the virus.  And they finally have arrived at that, after all these months.  And we have more that we can do. 

My view is that there's no reason that America's schools shouldn't be the safest place in America for our children to go to learn.  It takes some money for more classes, more teachers, more ventilation, more technology and the rest.  It takes not that much more money to make it safe.  If children can go to school – children learning, parents earning – parents can go to work.  And if not, we have to have more child care, and that's part of our discussion right now.

But I'm optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says, ‘We don't want to do it before the election.’  But let's keep working so that we can do it after the election.  We want to before.  But again, I want people to know, help is on the way.  It will be bigger.  It will be better.  It will be safer, and it will be retroactive. 

Andrea Mitchell.  Let me ask you this.  The President has said he wants an even bigger deal than the Democrats, and he acknowledges not every Republican agrees with him.  But he said they will.  What are you hearing?  Are you confident the President is going to go along with what you and Secretary Mnuchin are talking about? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I wouldn't even be having these discussions if we didn't think the President had some sway as to whether the Senate would take this legislation up.  The election is coming soon.  We know that the new Congress and new President are just two and a half months away.  We don't want to wait that long.  We want to get something done for the American people as soon as possible. 

Our bill is over five months old.  They finally came to the table.  And I think that, well, it's up to the President to convince people in his own party, but you have to also remember how hard that is because some of them really don't care to spend any more money to crush the virus, to make our schools safe, to honor our heroes, to put money in the pockets of the American people that is so needed. 

But again, I'm optimistic that there will be a bill.  It's a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive.  So, again, we're in a better place than we have been.  And the goal that we had for up until last night was for us to stake out our positions so that it's no more movement, and then, again, come to an agreement.  I'm optimistic.

Andrea Mitchell.  And I know the staff had been working on actual language for the last couple of days, so you've gotten a head start.  That's a big lift.  Have you gotten anywhere on big obstacles like state and local government, which was so important to you and the Democrats in Congress –  

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, still is. 

Andrea Mitchell.  – and which the President is railing against, frankly. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, a couple of the things that are still outstanding are, of course, the amount that we would spend on state and local, honoring our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, police and fire, food workers, transportation, sanitation, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers.  The safety of our schools and the well-being of our schools depends not only on allocation for COVID-19, but it also depends on how we support state and local government, where most of the money for education comes from.  So, that affects almost just about everything, health, transportation and the rest that make our lives function. 

And then the other bookend to that is liability, where they're sending essential workers to work.  If they don't go, they can't get Unemployment Insurance.  They could be in a dangerous situation, have no recourse if the strong OSHA standards are not kept.  Safe schools, safe workplace.  These are values.  They're not issues.  They're not provisions.  They're values. 

One other challenge that we still have is about how we treat restaurants and small – this has emerged since five months ago, the restaurants and the small venues – additional help for restaurants, we had that before.  And that's something I’ll be talking to the Secretary about when he comes in at 2:30 – not to give his schedule, he's not coming in at 2:30.  That's when we'll be talking. 

But in any event, it is – none of it is insurmountable if you want to make a decision.  And as I say, and he says to me and I say to him, ‘Why would I even be talking to you if we didn't think that we could, and need to have a decision and agreement?’ 

And by the way –

Andrea Mitchell.  That’s the most optimistic –

Speaker Pelosi.  Crush the virus, crush the virus, crush the virus.  It's long overdue.  Look what's happening in our country.  Finally, they have agreed that they would recognize the disparity in the communities of color, that the toll that this is taking, more minority – people of color are dying from COVID than white people.  A child who is five years old – excuse me, a black child has five times more chance of going to hospital with COVID than a white child.  A Hispanic child, eight times more chance.  I mean, as a mom, you know, and a grandmother, that to me is the most convincing argument we have to crush the virus. 

Andrea Mitchell.  I also want to ask you about a report in The New York Times based on the tax records that they obtained from the President's tax records, that a Chinese bank account linked to President Trump, an account he did not disclose on his public financial disclosures, exists.  And this is – bank accounts in China, my understanding, are part of the government, they're not private entities.  You've said the President's reported debt is a national security matter.  What do you make of this even tighter connection, according to The New York Times, with money from China that he has been taken out of his bank account? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, this is news to all of us, but it isn't shocking because the President has always been projecting his own shortcomings or his own exposure, his own vulnerability, on others.  He starts projecting onto the Bidens, ‘Oh, you have connections in China,’ when he has the connection to China. 

And my concern is not just about who he owes the money to, but where he's going to get the money to pay it back.  And again, we mentioned the state involvement in banks in China.  They can watch the flow of money there and perhaps have some, shall we say, sway over the person who is taking money or putting money into that account.  So, it is a national security issue.  Shame on the President if he has a bank account in China.  And no surprise that he would be projecting his own vulnerability on to other people. 

I’m sure there's more to come on this.  That's why it has always been important to see the President's tax returns, not in terms of how rich he is and the rest – okay, he misrepresents that, but what else is new?  But the fact is, is what is the source of those funds and what is the obligation of them and that's a national security matter. 

Andrea Mitchell.  Madam Speaker, I want to ask you about politics.  I’m here in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania.  President Obama is coming later today.  They really need to get out the Democratic vote here in Philadelphia, to sort of offset President Trump's strength in Wilkes-Barre and other rural regions, in coal country.  So, what are your expectations for Pennsylvania?  Because it really is an all-important state now for both sides. 

Speaker Pelosi.  I’m so happy that you're there, part of history, as President Obama returns to Philadelphia to campaign for Joe Biden, who is from Pennsylvania.  I – look at that, that's so exciting.  Oh, my.  In any event – how lovely – in any event, here’s what I think. 

I can only speak for today.  Today, we would win the White House, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.  But we assume nothing.  We put one good day in front of another.  No wasted time, no underutilized resources and no regrets the day after the election that we should have done more, as we experienced in 2016.  Lesson brutally learned.  So, I’m optimistic, but again, I’m optimistic because I know of all the work will continue. 

About one fifth of the people have already voted, if we have 150 million vote, which would be a big vote.  So, say it's 160 [million], then nearly one fifth of the people have already voted.  And that's a beautiful thing for our country, our sacred right, our civic duty to do.  So, I guess I would say – again, from '16, we all hesitate to make absolute predictions, but I would just say, for today, it's a big victory for the Democrats. 

I know we will increase our numbers in the House, not because it's a swing of the pendulum, but because we have excellent candidates, wonderful Members of Congress running for re-election.  We've mobilized at the grassroots level.  We've messaged in a way that is non-menacing, but bold and progressive and we have the money to get the job done under leadership of our Chair Cheri Bustos. 

So, we are quite excited, poised to – I always like to be ready weeks in advance.  You know, I’m a former Chair of the party, I love government because of policy, I thrive on politics in the campaigns, so I’m watching this all very closely.  Just win, don't agonize.  I say that when they agonize: we don't agonize, we organize.  And that's what we're doing. 

Andrea Mitchell.  And thank you very much for helping us organize right here on this program. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, thank you.  My pleasure. 

Andrea Mitchell.  Thank you. 

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.