Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports

April 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss the ongoing efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including the recently passed interim emergency funding package transformed by Congressional Democrats to provide critical support for small businesses, hospitals, and a national testing strategy.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Andrea Mitchell.  And joining me now is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. 

Madam Speaker, I want to ask you about what's next, if there's another package to come with all of the needs.  Thank you very much for being with us. 

I just understand though that the President in the Oval Office has told the press pool he was speaking sarcastically when he talked about ingesting disinfectant as well as some of the other remedies he was at least asking about yesterday.  There’s been a big reaction to that.  What is your reaction?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, my reaction is it was consistent with all of his other statements, which had no relationship to science, fact, evidence, data or appropriate way to proceed.  So it was consistent.  But it was also consistent with Mitch McConnell saying let the states go bankrupt.  They don't believe in science and they don't believe in governance, and that's why it's hard to get them to accept the evidence that we have a role to do something to meet the needs of the American people in a very direct and stronger way.

Andrea Mitchell.  Is it a serious problem when the President of the United States talks about something that is poisonous, which is ingesting Lysol or another disinfectant or when he touts a medication that has not been properly peer-tested or reviewed, which the FDA is now warning against, the hydroxychloroquine?

Speaker Pelosi.  And not only that, encouraging the agencies that have responsibility for approval to approve what they want, what the Administration wants, rather than what science demands. 

This is, it’s a terrible situation.  I don't know who's advising him scientifically, but you would have thought there would have been a real outrage yesterday when he made this suggestion. 

But, as I say, consistent.  That's why, on Easter Sunday, I had my own epiphany and said I cannot remain silent any longer.  What he is saying is dangerous.  The delay, the denial is deadly.  ‘It’s a hoax.’  ‘It’s going to magically go away.’  Inject Lysol into your lungs.  What is this?  What is it?

But, nonetheless, let's just go forward.  Let's say with what we're doing legislatively that we will provide the resources for our health services and the rest to meet the needs of the American people, for our scientists to quickly, as soon as possible, find a vaccine, hopefully a cure even sooner than that, and that we will make sure that there's integrity in how it is developed and integrity in how it is distributed.  That doesn't exist right now according to what we are seeing from the White House.

Andrea Mitchell.  Well, Madam Speaker, when he suggested yesterday, he said that, you know, we'll have a cure soon, but, at the same time, according to an upcoming whistle-blower complaint that we understand from Dr. Bright, who was removed from his position in charge of the vaccination research effort, that he's actually, according to this complaint and his version of it, he was removed from his job by pushing back against the recommendation from the President, the push to validate that malaria medication.

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, my colleague Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California is the Chair of the Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce.  It was her legislation that established BARDA that, that Dr. Bright was the head of.  She has, and we all have, respected and know his work and respected over time and follow that work.  She will be, I understand, will be having a hearing on the subject.  And we have to get to the facts, as allegations are made.  But this is explosive. 

But, again, we want to be hopeful for the American people and to kind of, almost, minimize the impact of what the President is saying.  But when he takes scientists out because they're not quickly giving approvals to his preferred choice of medicines, it's beyond me.  That is a danger to our system. 

Efficacy and safety, they're the hallmarks of how a drug is proved in going forward.  We have seen some things he has recommended have not been safe while he was recommending them.  It's very sad. 

Again, it's a challenge.  But let's recognize it's a challenge and maybe his saying he was just being silly or whatever he was saying about what he said yesterday, it didn't seem so when you saw him say it.  He seemed like he was speaking from his usual great authority on every subject. 

But the fact is that we cannot be deterred by what he says at those conferences.  We cannot be obsessed by doing what we are doing right now, which is talking about him.  We have to talk about what our possibilities are as we go into the future. 

And we're hopeful.  Yesterday – I, myself, I'm personally shaken by the fact 50,000 people have died.  I'm sure you are too, and most people are – 50,000 people have died.  We have to do better.  And yesterday we had some hope because we passed a bill that eventually Republicans agreed to that we would put $100 billion into hospitals and testing, so that we could go forward.  And it calls for a national strategy for testing.  It calls for documenting how it is affecting different communities of color, geography, ethnicity and the rest. 

And we just have to act upon what can be helpful rather than be dragged down every day.  It's a tactic.  It's a technique.  It's a diversionary tactic. 

Andrea Mitchell.  Madam Speaker, I do want to ask you, going forward, about something else that he said, that there won't be more money for the Post Office, which is at risk of going under, unless they raise prices on big shippers like Amazon.  Is there anything you can do about that, because he has a lot of power to hold up that money?  

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, as I say, in everything he says you have to enlarge the issue.  He says you should pump Lysol into your lung.  He doesn’t believe in science.  Mitch McConnell says that states should go bankrupt.  They don’t believe in governance. 

The President wants to privatize the Post office.  The Post Office has over 90 percent favorability among the American people.  They depend on the Post Office, as a public institution.  Seniors now are getting – have always been getting their medicine by mail for a long time now and now even more urgently.  People are buying things that are telemarketing and the rest, and they're being delivered by the Post Office. 

So, at this time – anytime it's a bad idea, but it's what they're about – privatization, privatization, privatization.  Let someone else go make money off something that should be a public service for the American people.  We will have to have that fight. 

We tried to get funding for the Post Office in the CARES 1 bill.  We had some money, in a bipartisan way, but the President I understand personally rejected it. 

But let me tell you another reason why he may be against it.  We have to save the lives and livelihood of the American people.  We also have to save our liberty – the life of our democracy. 

Voting by mail is central to this in any event, but at the time of the coronavirus, very essential.  We had $400 million in CARES 1.  We have to add much more than that in CARES 2, so that people can vote by mail. 

When the Supreme Court, acting like party hacks, said that the state of Wisconsin had to vote on that day and limited the importance of voting by mail, they were doing a Republican agenda.  But the fact is, is that having those people vote at that time was as if we invited them all to the Mardi Gras, probably caused more infections.  Sad to say.  People were standing in line for a very long time, keeping social distancing, but nonetheless, having to be out when they should be home. 

So, this is about that as well.  This issue of vote by mail and also saying every person who’s registered to vote should receive a ballot and that we should have same-day registration for those who have not registered to vote, opening the process.  This is what our country is about, the vote, the sacred right to vote.  And I'm a former state chair of the party, and our purpose was always to remove obstacles for participation, whether they were Democrats, Republicans, Independents or whatever they were.

Andrew Mitchell.  Well, to that point.  Madam Speaker, I know time is so short.  I do want to ask you that Joe Biden raised the issue that he thinks the President is trying to kickback the election and somehow not have the – create a rationale not to hold the election on November 3rd as schedule, if there's a resurgence of the virus in the fall.  It's a constitutional mandate.  Are you sure that you can – and Democrats can make sure we have the election as scheduled? 

Speaker Pelosi.  We must.  And that is – I know there's a danger, and people are scared.  But we must, and we will.  This is – he has done so much to undermine our democracy, to undermine our rights, dishonoring the Constitution, undermining the integrity of our voting process, denigrating our newcomers to our country – just degrading our environment, our values and the rest, so he has done a lot to undermine who we are as America.  But the fact is, we cannot allow him to do that to our democracy.  That will not happen, and God willing, maybe some Republicans might even stand up for our country, our Constitution and our democracy as well.  I think they will. 

Andrea Mitchell.  We have less than a minute, but I just want to ask you about all those people who still have not gotten their unemployment claims from their first package.  Is there anything that Congress can do to ensure that states get on the ball on this? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we really have to support the states in a stronger way because they're getting so many applications for unemployment insurance.  So, they need more funding for the administrative process that is taken there.  We put about $1 billion in CARES 1 for the states, but they need more.  One state, Rhode Island, the Governor told me that one week they had ten applications on a Wednesday, the following Wednesday they had 10,000 applications.  So, there's an administrative – a need for administrative resources to facilitate that. 

But, there's no reason there should be a delay in terms of the direct payments.  Well, they had a delay so the President could sign the check.  Oh, come on.  What is this about?  I don't know what is worse, I've been thinking about it at night: shameful or shameless.  Whatever it is, that was shameful or shameless that they would hold that up when people are crying out and needing that. 

And, in fact, we need more in the next tranche and we need to have these – people want three things that I hear from them the most.  They want our first responders, our health care workers to have the PPE that they need as they try to save lives, as they risk their own lives to do so and perhaps even lose their jobs. 

Then they want their checks.  They want their checks.  They want their direct payment, they want their unemployment check, they want their PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program check for small business. 

And the third thing is they do not want any taxpayer dollars going to industries that are enriching shareholders at the expense of workers.  That money is destined to keep people in their jobs, not to increase bonuses, dividends, CEO pay or buybacks. 

So those are three things that make people kind of upset, among others, and that's exactly what we try to put off with our four bills that we had passed.  Four bills.  First one in March, March 4th.  It was about testing, testing, testing.  Here we are a month and a half later, not adequately prepared for the testing.   But we, in the bill yesterday, hopefully that will do that. 

Let me just say this one thing.  The Republican – part of their technique, in addition to being anti-science and anti-governance, want to say we held up the bill.  No, they did.  They ended up voting for exactly what we put on the Floor of the Senate on April 9th, which was the day they brought their bill to the Floor. 

The leader of the debate yesterday on the House Floor said, ‘Well, we could have agreed to this two weeks ago in sixteen minutes, Democrats and Republicans, except the Democrats had all these extracurricular stuff.’ 

Stuff like $100 billion for hospitals and testing, job – lending opportunities for people who are short, sort of in the underbanked category, more money for lending, et cetera, for our small businesses and the rest. They call that – they called that extracurricular stuff. 

Take that to the hospital with you when you want to see what the priorities are between us here and what the debate is about. 

But all of our bills have been bipartisan.  Our next bill will be bipartisan and we look forward to getting on with that as soon as possible to save the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy. 

Andrea Mitchell.  We're going to have to leave it there, but thank you again.  Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.