Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes

October 26, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes to discuss COVID relief talks and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Chris Hayes.  This is where we find ourselves at this hour, just eight days before the election.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will be a key player in all of this, joins me right now. 

Speaker, let's first start about your reaction to this confirmation and what it means for you because, should you be Speaker in the next Congress, any sort of expansion of the courts, any balancing of the courts would have to be done through law making that happened in your body.  What is your reaction to tonight and what are you open to in the future? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I think – first, let me say, Chris, thank you for your focus on every aspect of what is happening here from the coronavirus and its connection to this, taking up this confirmation instead of taking up legislation to crush the virus. 

This is a very sad day for our country.  Within the past 24 hours we've seen the President of the United States say, in his delusional state, ‘We've rounded the curve on this.  We’ve rounded the turn.’  We haven't.  We’ve heard his Chief of Staff tell us, eyes wide open, as you said, this is a decision, they do not intend to control the virus. 

Over eight million people infected, getting close to a quarter of a million people who have died and now we know they never intended – it wasn't just ineptitude, it wasn't just politics, it just wasn't their defiance of science, it was a decision, a decision not to crush the virus, and what that means for the education of our children, the economy of our country and the rest.  And what do they do but rush, rush this Supreme Court nomination through?  Which has – also has an impact on the health and well-being of the American people. 

It's only eight days until the election, people are voting now.  As you know, over 60 million people have already voted.  So, in the middle of an election, they're putting this forward, eight days until the election, fifteen days until the first, the oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act.  And the President said within this past 24 hours – anyway, it was reported in the past 24 hours, that he was there to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  And all that that means for pre-existing conditions, people who need access to quality Affordable Care Act, they're coming after you, as the expression goes.  So, it's very sad because it's the undoing of the system of checks and balances. 

Chris Hayes.  Well, I mean, if that's the case, I just want to say – and all of what you said is broadly in line with the way I view things right now in terms of the state the country is in and their decisions, but with all that said, you know, checks and balances can be reasserted.  You know, Abraham Lincoln expanded the size of the court, FDR famously attempted to when the New Deal was sort of breaking on the shores of that conservative Court until it sort of changed its jurisprudence.  Are you, as the Speaker of the House, are you open to efforts to do that in the future? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I think that Joe Biden has given us a good path.  He's going to have something that people can understand why this is important.  And I like what – something that Brian said about not just the Supreme Court, but the other courts.  It was a hundred – well, in 1879, in 1876, there were nine justices on the Court.  Our population has grown enormously since then.  Should we expand the Court?  Let's take a look and see.  But not – and that relates to the nine District Courts.  Maybe we need more District Courts, as well. 

And one other thing we need, we need for these justices to disclose their holdings.  Why should all the rest of us have to disclose our holdings and that is appropriate, but not if you're a justice of the Supreme Court?  They're in this ivory tower and, again, one branch of government appointing the other branch of government with the acquiescence – not only the acquiescence, the bully – bully actions of the Senate of the United States.  It's appalling. 

Chris Hayes.  You just mentioned the coronavirus relief and this sort of testing gap.  And I want to state to you how I understand the state of things –

Speaker Pelosi.  Okay. 

Chris Hayes.  Which can feel a little bit like a dark comedy or an absurdist play, like Waiting for Godot, where we're constantly talking about they're making progress, they’re making progress and they’re making progress. 

My understanding is that the problem isn’t the topline number, which can be negotiated, the size of the package.  Minor problem is that there are huge differences substantively between what you want to see out of the package in terms of what it commits the White House to doing on testing and suppressing the virus, and what they are willing to do.  And it seems to me that if your position and the Democrats' position is: ‘We should suppress and contain the virus,’ and the White House's position is: ‘No, we should not,’ that is not a negotiable – there is no negotiating to be done there.

Speaker Pelosi.  That’s right.  That's exactly right and thank you for putting it that way.  And you may recall, about ten days ago they finally said, ‘Okay, we'll go along with the testing plan.  We're just going to make a light touch on the language.’ 

The light touch was taking out 55 percent of the language, changing ‘must’ – we are saying you ‘shall,’ the Administration ‘shall’ do this, they ‘shall’ – the Administration ‘may’ do this.  ‘Requirements’ became ‘recommendations’ and the like, so that the money would be just, again, a slush fund for the President so that he may do this, or may do that, rather than requiring it. 

But we thought, okay, this is just a power play.  Then they made a fuss, they came back and said, ‘Alright, we're there with you.’  But they still have not come back.  And that's what we asked for today.  We said, ‘We can get something done before the election, at least an agreement, if not a law, if you admit that we can, must crush the virus.’  People are dying.  People are sick.

Chris Hayes.  But Madam Speaker, wait, Madam Speaker, obviously you know the state of this better than I do.  You're a party to this.  You have negotiated so many deals in your life.  I have to say, I feel like I've been insane.  I'm watching this, there's no deal happening.  Like –

Speaker Pelosi.  That's exactly right. 

Chris Hayes.  Okay, thank you.

Speaker Pelosi.  You’re exactly right.

Chris Hayes.  I feel like there’s a constant – you know I'm like the donkey with the carrot in front of me.  It's not happening, right?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, that's when people said, ‘Accept the deal.’  And I was like, ‘What deal?  They haven't agreed to any of this.’

Chris Hayes.  Right, but I mean that's what I mean though.  But like, this idea – I mean, I guess you're still talking, but it just seems to me like the reality here is that there is an incommensurable difference between how the Democratic Caucus approaches the virus and its suppression and the White House that cannot be papered over in legislative language.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, it could – I mean, again, public sentiment is everything, the public weighing in.  Now, again, this was big with Mark Meadows saying ‘We didn't intend to control this.’

So, that gave us much more leverage, but the fact is we have to control the virus.  We have to control the virus.  But in addition to that, we cannot sell our souls.  I know, just say, ‘Okay, well, let's just do it, whatever way they want to do it.  We'll do it again.’  No.

We've got to crush the virus.  We've got to have our children safely in schools.  We've got to insist that as people are going into poverty, we are asking them for Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, all these things that take people out of poverty.  They're insisting on keeping their big tax cut $150 billion for the wealthiest people in the country.  

So, all of the frustration that we have about the courts and the this or that is very well-founded.  We do not have shared values, but we hope that some pragmatism might set in on them that the public would demand that they crush the virus.

Chris Hayes.  Final question for you is about the election.  We are – as you said, there are 60 million votes that have been cast.  We'll be looking at some of those early voting numbers.  We're eight days from an election.  What do you view as the Speaker of the House and the House's role in the administration of free and fair elections?  Obviously, that is not something that is in your constitutional purview in terms of the actual, you know, day-to-day administration in states, which is under state authority.  What is your view in making sure that we have a free and fair election and that the results are, you know, transparent and open and it’s the democratic will of the people that controls.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, you know one of the things that is so appalling about this judicial appointment right now is they want that person in there to further undermine our democracy.  It's not just about health care.  That would be bad enough, but just in time for all the challenges that they may try to make to the election of Joe Biden and that Court.  They should be all recusing themselves from any decisions about that.

But to your point, well, we just have to win big, and that's one thing.  We're losing the fight in this coronavirus because they will not do the money for elections, to protect us from overseas interference in terms of protecting the critical infrastructure of our elections or even to respect the American people who have to stand in line for four hours to vote by just expanding the opportunity to vote.

So, that they won't do, but we have to just make sure everybody knows the most important – the antidote to their poison, the antidote is the vote.  But we are prepared for everything.  We are prepared for all of their – what they might do to challenge the legitimacy of the Electoral College.  We're prepared and that means if we win the House and Senate, that's easier, but even in the House, if they try to – you know he says he's going to win in the House.  He thinks that's the light at the end of the tunnel.  We’re saying, ‘That light is a train coming after you, Mr. President.’  With great patriotism, with great principle, we will protect our democracy in the House.  Don't even think about coming to our House on this subject.  

So, it is – who would have ever thought – think back five years.  Who would have ever thought that we would be in a situation where the President of the United States was undermining our democracy, our Constitution, that the Senate of the United States would be complicit, the Republicans in the Senate would be complicit?

Mitch McConnell is not a force for good in our country, whether it's your health or your vote, the health of our democracy, we have to win this election, and we have to win big and we have to win early.

Chris Hayes.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for come on tonight.  That was very clarifying, and I really appreciate it.

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.  My pleasure.  Thank you for your clarifications as well.