Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's LIVE with Ayman Mohyeldin
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC LIVE to discuss the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic response, the stakes of the Supreme Court fight for Americans’ health care and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Ayman Mohyeldin. Joining me now from the Capitol is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining me. First of all, let me get your reaction to this breaking news that we just got, the President tweeting out he will be leaving Walter Reed, returning to the White House 68 hours or so after his hospitalization. What do you make of that news, Madam Speaker?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first of all, I hope it's an indication that the physicians have given him permission to do this. We pray for the President's comfort and a speedy recovery for him. He has to remember though that his words weigh a ton, as President of the United States. If he is acting frivolous with this virus as he has done all along, this is dangerous for the American people.
I hope that we'll hear a trustworthy report from his physicians and that the news is good, but it's not to make light of it. The President could be going back to the White House and become a long hauler, someone who has consequences from this virus. He should not be dealing with it politically to make it look like he overcame the virus because he's had such good policies, because, in fact, he has been very destructive and dangerous to the country. And I say that with a heavy heart because my heart is full of prayers for him and his family, that they become healthy and well.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Do you actually trust the physicians when they are briefing the American public based on the way this has been handled with the mixed information, some of the data that's been coming out, the testing, the timeline put out by his physicians? Do you, Madam Speaker, believe the physicians when they're briefing the American people?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I hope that we could trust them, but what is disconcerting is that we know that the President's physicians present a report that must be approved by the President. That's not scientific. That's not what the public is owed about the state of health of the President of the United States. So, I hope that while they kind of giggle up there about how happy they are to be treating the President, that they understand their responsibility to the American people and our democracy.
Ayman Mohyeldin. How often, Madam Speaker, are you being tested for COVID-19?
Speaker Pelosi. Today – I was tested at the end of last week after meetings in my office with those who have been in meetings with the President, bragging that they're always tested because they're in contact with the President. So, with extreme caution, I went to be tested on Friday, tested negative. I took another test this morning. I haven't gotten the results yet, but I will regularly be tested to be cautious.
Ayman Mohyeldin. I was going to ask you quickly, given the way that we've seen this play out over the past couple of days with certainly members of the White House who get tested one day and then the other day appear to be positive with White House speaker Kayleigh McEnany and even others. Do you think it makes sense to be out in public, out and about, when we just don't know how long the incubation period remains?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I think we're all taking very stringent precautions in this regard, and again, the issue of testing is one thing, but with testing you have to have – you have to wear masks. You have to have sanitation, separation. You have to have contact tracing and you have to have treatment and that's what we have to get to everyone in our country.
My concern is that with all of the opportunities and the privilege of the President of the United States, it still did not protect him from the virus because he was not following any of the guidelines that I mentioned. And our purpose – and we're trying to in the coronavirus legislation that we're working on now, to make sure that people of color that are disproportionately affected by this virus get the testing, tracing, treatment that they need in order to fight it.
Again, remembering that the President's example is important to people and the example that he has given has been totally irresponsible. And I say that sadly because I thought this could be a learning experience, but he just doesn't want to crush the virus. He's just too set on crushing the Affordable Care Act and the pre-existing conditions [benefits] that are even more important now because of the virus.
Ayman Mohyeldin. We're certainly going to get to that in just a moment, Madam Speaker, but I did want to ask you about something your colleague, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, last week, who as you are very well aware was diagnosed with COVID-19. She described the difficulties she encountered with getting tested. Watch this.
Jahana Hayes. As Members of Congress, we don't get regularly tested, and that has been something that I have been talking about and really trying to get some change in that. But I think even more than Members, I had staffers who had such a hard time getting tested. Some of them had to drive to Virginia or to Maryland, to pay out of pocket, and that just should not happen.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Madam Speaker, all this to ask, should Congress institute mandatory rapid testing? It is a co-equal branch of government. They do not have the same protocols in place that they do have at the White House.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, apparently what they have at the White House doesn't work, and that's why we want to be careful about how we proceed.
I'm sorry to hear what the Congresswoman had to say. But I also am in close touch with the House – the Capitol Attending Physician, for the entire Capitol, and, basically, people who have reason to be tested are given the opportunity to be tested. And on Capitol Hill, it's 20,000 workers. It's not just 435 Members of Congress. So, that opportunity is there and I’m sorry that her staff people were not aware of that. We have to do the outreach to make sure that they are.
But again, the Capitol Physician measures this on a regular basis, but you don’t want to – you want to have the testing for those who need it. They were not even – all the time, as Speaker, I was not tested because I had no symptoms, I had no exposure. When I had the exposure to the White House people who came over to testify – not to testify, but to negotiate on the bill, then it was decided that out of abundance of caution that we would have the test, and we had another one today.
In addition to this, though, I want to say this and it's important to note, we will do what we need to do to protect the Members of Congress, the staff, the press who cover us, the custodians, all the people who work in the Capitol of the United States. But testing is a part of it. Most of the people in our world who have come into contact and have been tested positive did not get the virus at the Capitol. It was in other encounters, including at the White House. So, it's about their family lives, how they are at home and socially interacting. It's other events that they may participate in. It's in transportation getting to the Capitol. So, this is a tall order for the number of people that we are talking about, and I trust the judgment of science in this as to when and how we should be tested, whether it's sampling or whether – they're preparing a report, a scientific report on this.
But, so far, the House of Representatives, by our protocols for masking and distancing, have had a level of success. And by the way, I may say by voting by proxy, so those who have a pre-disposition or have had reason to suspect that they might be vulnerable, the other Members are not exposed to them and they're not exposed to the other Members.
But this is a vicious virus and we have to scientifically do what is necessary to fight it so that we can open our economy and our schools safely. The President has ignored the science, does not want to follow any rules, doesn't understand how important his voice is to people and if he said this is what we should do, many more people would follow and we wouldn't be looking at 7.5 million people infected by the virus, over 210,000 people who have died from it. We offer our condolences to them and, again, our support for those who have been infected.
Ayman Mohyeldin. What do you make, Madam Speaker, of Senators like Ron Johnson who say he would come and wear a moon suit to vote and confirm Amy Coney Barrett? I’m not sure you if you’ve had a chance to hear those comments but he did make those comments in Charlottesville a while ago, saying that’s how adamant he is. Of course, to our viewers, if you don't know, he is infected with COVID-19, and, yet, here he is saying he would come to the Senate Floor. Because, as you pointed out, while the House side does have proxy voting, the Senate does not. Mitch McConnell has not allowed that to happen. They would have to come in person to conduct Floor business.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it just goes to show you the lengths that the Republicans will do to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That is their purpose in rushing this confirmation hearing. November 10th, the oral arguments begin on the Affordable Care Act and that's why, with great disrespect to Justice Ginsburg, but with determination to take away people's pre-existing condition benefit, that they will dress in moon suits in order to do that. That shows you their determination in that regard, as heartbreaking for the country.
But, let’s – we have a big vote on election day when that Democratic House and Senate and Presidency, and not only the Supreme Court can take that away from you, but we’ll take it back for the American people.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Thank you so much.
Speaker Pelosi. Stay safe. Stay safe, Ayman.
Ayman Mohyeldin. Thank you so much, Madam Speaker. I really appreciate that. Good to talk to you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.