Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC's Deadline: White House to discuss the Administration’s handling of intelligence indicating that Russia placed bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the latest on the Congressional response to the coronavirus pandemic and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Nicolle Wallace. Joining us now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, I suppose it was predictable that a story of Vladimir Putin trying to harm the United States and Donald Trump doing zip, zilch, nada about it, even though he was briefed about it, would be called a hoax. But it's still jarring and shocking when you've got grieving family members. What is your hope, what do you hope to learn, what do you plan to ask at your briefing tomorrow?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first may I just say how jarring it is to hear a mom, a Gold Star mom, talk about the loss of a child. It’s so very sad.
Let me – let me just enlarge the issues for a moment. First of all, as a long-time intelligence person, I am a generation – intelligence community, our first responsibility of intelligence, from the start, is force protection. When we're going to send our troops into harm's way, whether we're initiating hostilities or they're going into other harm's way, we have to make sure we're doing everything to protect: force protection, force protection.
We say of our men and women on the battlefield, we leave no one behind behind. When they come home, we leave no veteran behind. All the more reason to protect them right from the start.
In light of that –
Nicolle Wallace. Madam Speaker, what does – oh, sorry.
Speaker Pelosi. – to see this possible threat, this bounty on our soldiers be treated so lightly, without investigation and the rest, is so inappropriate. It is dereliction of duty.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States. He is supposed to have judgment about how to make decisions about the security of our country. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge. For him to ignore the facts in a presidential daily briefing as a matter of habit, is dereliction of duty.
And, the third point I would make is, there's enough reason for us to believe that this dereliction of duty cannot just be the course of action we take. We must institute sanctions against Russia and we must do it right away.
Nicolle Wallace. Madam Speaker, you've called Mitch McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch,’ I think in part for his reluctance to do anything about election interference. As the mosaic comes into focus, you've got an intelligence community either so chilled by Donald Trump's affinity for Vladimir Putin or so out of gas at trying to brief the unbriefable; you've got Senate Republicans totally unwilling to fortify our elections ahead of 2020; the whole lot of them are in denial about 2016. What do you – what can you do in the next 120 days to protect the 2020 election?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first, let me just say, you just described, not only for the President, but the Republicans in Congress, dereliction of duty: undermining our own elections, undermining our commitment to NATO, giving away the store, the base in Syria. The list goes on and on: ignoring the invasion of – the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of eastern Ukraine. The list goes on and on.
And this President has always given it some nickname, as if that passes for humor in certain circles. He calls it ‘a hoax,’ same thing he called COVID-19, ‘a hoax.’ He said it will disappear. He said this never even happened. There is no reality in the judgment of this President.
And there is real sadness in what the Republicans have been willing to swallow, that he has put forth. And you know what, he is shining a light, very brightly, on the puppet strings that he is pulling on them, humiliating them, as he takes the country in the wrong direction. Not taking us in the right place in curing COVID and taking us, opening our economy in a healthy way, and not protecting us on the battlefields when he lets the Russians get away with murder.
Nicolle Wallace. Madam Speaker, your indictment of Donald Trump's lack of fitness to serve as the country's Commander-in-Chief is, frankly, very similar to that detailed in John Bolton's book. John Bolton concludes that he's unfit. He then accuses, in a thread that I couldn't really follow, he accuses the Democrats of a flawed impeachment process. It would turn out that he repeated the conduct for which he was impeached.
What are your – what do you sort of rest at, as what we have right now until there's another election? As our President, is he – is he so compromised that he's paralyzed or is it worse than that? Is it your feeling that he's advancing Putin's agenda?
Speaker Pelosi. You know what, Nicolle, I just don't like to spend time talking about him. I would rather talk about what we need to do to end COVID-19, and we have a plan. It's in The Heroes Act: testing, tracing, treating and social distancing. We don't have a vaccine, and we don't have a cure. But we do have the tool to lessen the spread of this and to defeat this – to defeat this virus and in doing so, be able to open up our economy safely.
We want to talk about how we avoid another serious recession, even worse recession than we have now, by putting money into the pockets of the American people and by passing The Heroes Act in order to keep government – state and local government functioning.
So, we have very positive things that we must be doing, rather than dwelling on the mental state of the President of the United States, and he is unfit. And for John Bolton to call him unfit when he chose profit over patriotism and would not testify to the President's unfitness during the impeachment, he has no right to criticize the path we took when he would not cooperate in any way. I would hope he would change his mind and cooperate now, just so the American people can have the facts.
But the fact is very clear. The President is intellectually unprepared, personally unqualified and ethically unfit to serve as President of the United States. And now he has undermined any credibility he may have had as Commander-in-Chief, if he could call a possible assault on our troops, our men and women in uniform, by the Russians a hoax, without even wanting to read about it, learn more about it and make a really informed judgment about it.
So, you know, you have a chamber of henchman over there. When it serves their purpose, they support the President. When it serves their profits in a book, then, they criticize him.
Nicolle Wallace. Madam Speaker, you're being briefed tomorrow. If you would like to come out and spend some time with us, you have an open invitation to do so. Thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Just remember, even before going in – before going in, it's long overdue for us to execute the sanctions against Russia and add more to them in light of the events of the past weekend, that have become known to us the past weekend.
Thank you, Nicolle.
Nicolle Wallace. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.