Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today

October 31, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  What are you doing here?  I said there's probably nobody here because the gallery, uncharacteristically, uncustomarily, is full.  But, I just said I'd be here, so I'm here.  Usually, if I say I’m going to be some place, I am.

So, here we are.  Democrats have been hard at work legislating, investigating, litigating.

And we're happy this week that we did something we've been trying to do for a very long time: hold the – just – the Ottoman Empire responsible for an Armenian Genocide.  Very strong bipartisan work, vote – and then – 403-16, something like that.  

We voted sanctions on Turkey, again, reaffirming our opposition to the President's action that he took vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey.  Again, that was 354-60.  So, we've had strong bipartisan votes on these issues that relate to what happened in Turkey vis-a-vis Syria.  

Our For The People agenda: we said we were going to first lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and that is what we are doing with H.R. 3, now named The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now legislation.  We invite our Republican colleagues who keep saying they want to do something to join us to do that.  And, when we pass it, we urge Senator McConnell to stop saying all we're doing is impeaching when we sent him scores of very important bills, hundreds of pieces of legislation, which he, as the ‘Grim Reaper,’ has refused to act upon.  

We are moving with the U.S.‑Mexico‑Canada Trade Agreement, making progress every day.  I'm optimistic that we are still on a path to ‘yes’ and that we'll come to a conclusion soon on that.  And then, again, building the infrastructure of America and the rest, we're hoping for strong bipartisanship in that regard.  

So, we are legislating, and yes, we are investigating.  

Today, we move further down the path in our inquiry by putting forth our procedures, which are very transparent and open and, frankly, more transparent and more open, giving more privileges to the President and his argument than were given in the past.  So, the argument that they're making on the Floor is not real.  

This is a sad day.  It's a sad day, because nobody comes to Congress to impeach a President of the United States.  No one.

We come here to do the work, to make the future better for our children, for America's future.  We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and that's what we cannot ignore and will not ignore when the President's behavior indicates that that investigation, that inquiry is necessary.  

As the inquiry proceeds, we’ll decide whether we'll go forward with impeachment.  That decision has not been made, but here we are.  

Again, our Founders, September 17th, 1874 – excuse me, 1787, they came forth with a Constitution, the genius of which was a separation of powers, three co-equal branches of government, a balance of power, and when Franklin, Benjamin Franklin came out, they said, ‘Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, what do we have, a monarchy or a republic?’  And he said, ‘A republic, if we can keep it.’

And, here, this – right in the here and now, we are keeping the republic from a President who says, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want.’

Not so.  And, if so – if you think that's so and you act upon that belief, that is in violation of the Constitution of the United States.  And, so we will proceed with the facts, the truth.  It's about the truth, and it's about the Constitution, and we're very working hard to defend our democracy.

Because, if we don't have a system of checks and balances, we might as well all just elect a president and go home, because, it will be that unitary form of government that our Founders did not want us to have.

The times have found us.  We feel – all of us, all of you as messengers, as guardians of our democracy, the guardians of the gate of our democracy, as messengers about revealing the facts and the truth to the American people.  ‘The times have found us,’ as they found us, Thomas Paine said.  Our Founders, to declare independence, to fight a war, to win it, to write our founding documents in a way that made us a republic.

The times have found us now, to have a republic and to keep it, as Benjamin Franklin admonished.

Nobody is – this isn't about anything personal with the President.  It isn't about politics.  It isn't about [partisanship] ⁠— it isn't about partisanship.  It's about patriotism.  It's about patriotism, and I would hope that rather than protecting the President personally, all of our colleagues would choose to honor their oath of office to protect and defend, not the President, but the Constitution of the United States.

Just a few questions because we're on the Floor.

***

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, ma'am?

Q:  Madam Speaker, do you think this vote will do anything to diminish the Republican and White House belief that this is an illegitimate, unfair and partisan inquiry?

Speaker Pelosi.  That isn’t my ⁠— the question is, do I think it's going to diminish their ⁠— no.  The facts are what they are.  They've tried to misrepresent them, but the fact is very ⁠— this is a process that has expanded opportunity for them to show anything that's exculpatory, proves the innocence of the President.

Q:  Republicans say that this process is not due process for the President.  Are these rules really fair?

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, they are.  Yes they are.  Now, I answered it once.  I'll answer it twice.  I'm going to answer it one time.  These rules are fairer than anything that have gone before, in terms of an impeachment proceeding.  I'm not here to answer what the Republicans say.

If you have any questions, we're doing appropriations.  We're doing trade.  We're doing drug prices ⁠— lowering the cost of drug prices.  I'm not here to answer any questions about what the Republicans say, further than to what I have said just now.

Q:  Can you please tell me if you think that Katie Hill should have resigned?  What do you say to the younger lawmakers who think that there's some sort of generational divide and perhaps that she shouldn’t have?

Speaker Pelosi.  Katie Hill's decision to resign is her decision to resign.  It is ⁠— she's an absolutely outstanding young public servant: very smart, strategic, patriotic, loves our country, respected by her colleagues in the Congress for the work that she does here.

She made her decision and her timing, and I respect that.

I do say to my own children and grandchildren, especially grandchildren, you know, some of these ⁠— I don't know what you would call them, appearances on social media can come back to haunt you if they are taken out of context, and that. But I do think we have to be careful.

This is something that, I think, could spring from this that could be a benefit.  Regardless of any errors in judgment that anyone may have made, it's shameful that she's been exposed to public humiliation by way of cyber exploitation. 

And I caution everyone that they, too, may be subjected to that, so to be careful.  Countless women across America have been subjected to this type of harassment and abuse, which is a profound violation of those women's rights, or any – men too – and human dignity.  So this is, this is something that we have to – I thank you for your question. 

It is bigger than one person.  It's about how people have presented themselves over time.  And again, exploitation by others with, who get the information, and we don't know how, well that's just not right.  And actually, there's a legal question involved in it as well.  So, it’s, I am sad that she is –  

Q:  Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker –

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, sir?

Q:  How close are you –

Speaker Pelosi.  This is it.

Q: –  to making a decision on the trade agreement, and how does impeachment affect it, –  

Speaker Pelosi.  I hope so –

Q:  – both in terms of the clock and the need, the political need to show kitchen table achievements?

Speaker Pelosi.  No, they have nothing to do with each other.

The timing on the U.S.-Mexico – the question was how does that relate to impeachment.  The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is about what is contained in that agreement.  It’s timing is when we come to a conclusion as to agreement and has nothing to do with the timing on impeachment, absolutely nothing, in the House of Representatives, that's all I can speak for. 

We are reasonably close. 

I will say this, this is probably the most optimistic thing I will say about this.  If we can come to terms, and I think we're close to doing, this will be a template for future trade agreements.  Not only would it be good of itself but a good pattern for how we can proceed.  So, we have an opportunity to do it right.  We're not there yet, but we understand the road that, the last, shall we say, mile that we have to go.  So, I'm optimistic.  I'm going to have to go to the Floor now.

Q:  What about the clock with this spilling into next year and the Senate –

Speaker Pelosi.  Excuse me?

Q:  What about the clock –

Speaker Pelosi.  What about the clock?

Q:  Well, you've got a possible Senate trial next year and it will be difficult for them to process –

Speaker Pelosi.  Well that, I can't answer for the Senate.  We'll just do our bill when we're ready, and we can't do it any sooner than when we have the agreement, that this trade agreement is really helpful to the lives of America’s working families.  And you don't help America’s working families by pauperizing people in Mexico.  The lower the wages are, the more companies will go.

I had someone come in my office yesterday to say that 38, the machine is really – 30, excuse me, I'll just be conservative – 35 factories have closed in the last two years, many of them going out of the country.  Many of them going out of the country.  So, if we lift everyone, the standards up for everyone, we have a better shot of having a better deal for America's working families, and that's why we're there.  We're there for America’s working families.

I voted for NAFTA.  I had my disappointments about it.  I didn't want this to just be NAFTA plus a little bit.  I wanted it to be structurally different in terms of who benefits, starting with American workers. 

So, I'm happy about it, and impeachment has nothing to do with it.  It only has to do with our coming to agreement and to terms, as far as the House of Representatives is concerned. 

As you may understand, I have business on the Floor that I have to see to.  So, I'm going to have to excuse myself.

Thank you, all, very much.