Speaker Pelosi Remarks at Media Availability with Chairmen Nadler, Schiff and Cummings Following Mueller Hearings
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Pelosi joined Chairman Jerry Nadler, Chairman Adam Schiff and Chairman Elijah Cummings for a media availability event following hearings with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his report about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the President’s actions to obstruct the investigation. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. It’s been a pretty interesting day. An historic one as a matter of fact.
A day in which the former Special Counsel affirmed, in public, what the Mueller report put forth.
It is a crossing of a threshold in terms of the public awareness of what happened and how it confirms to the law, or not.
The President likes to have his poster that says the Mueller report took this many days, cost this much money – this, that and the other. Well, we have a corresponding, contradictory chart: Mueller investigation by the numbers. $40 million dollars recovered for the U.S. government. Remember how much he said it would cost – less than that. Thirty-seven people and entities charged with crimes. Twenty-five ongoing criminal cases referred. Seven convicted, including five top Trump campaign officials. And then he has no collusion or this and that – ten instances of obstruction, yes. No exoneration. That’s some of what we heard today.
I just want to go to another point: that at the same time as we’re on this path of the Mueller investigation, to recognize that the Mueller investigation was prohibited from looking into the President’s finances. And, that is what our Committees of jurisdiction have been doing.
As we legislate, for the good of the American people, we are also investigating, so that we have the grist for the mill to litigate in court. And, those cases we have won in lower courts, they have, of course, appealed.
We feel very strongly about our position – about the position of Article I, the Legislative branch, having oversight over every other branch of government. But, that is important because it means we can get the information to show the American people what the obstruction was further all about.
I’m very proud of all our Committees – the Judiciary Committee and it’s great Chairman Jerry Nadler, the Intelligence Committee, great Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. And, we are also joined by Elijah Cummings, Chair of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee – a Committee that is winnings their court cases as well.
So, I’m going to yield, with great respect, to all three of our Chairman and then we’ll take some question.
First, I’ll yield to the distinguished Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much.
As we acknowledge the greatness of our Chair Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, I always want to acknowledge the greatness of Elijah Cummings, the Chair of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee.
He has, really, won the first case, the Mazar decision, which – his research enabled us to take to court. We won the case. The decision was a complete, beautiful statement on the ability of Congress to have oversight.
Chairman Cummings. That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Speaker Pelosi. Just a remarkable decision. And, now, of course, the Administration is appealing it. But, I thank you too, Mr. Cummings, for your great leadership in where we are going next because, as you know, the Mueller investigation could not do the President’s personal or business connections. And, one of those connections could be to the Russians. And that is what we want to find out.
So, as we go to questions, I just want to say that I think: I do believe what we saw today was a very strong manifestation and, in fact, some would even say and indictment of this Administration’s cone of silence and their cover-up.
This is only – this is about our – the oath we take to protect and defend the Constitution. But, some of the actions that the Administration may have taken, we’ll see through our investigation, may have jeopardized our national security by strengthening Russia’s hand in interfering in our elections, undermining democracy, not only in our country, but in other countries as well, upsetting our pre-eminence as a democracy in the world.
This is very serious. Today was very important.
Again, I salute our Chairmen, all of our six Chairmen who have been involved in this and now we can take some questions.
Okay, so, who do you want to hear from first? You guys decide.
Okay, she’s having a baby, we have to go there first.
As a mother of five, I yield.
Q: Thank you. Madam Speaker, what you saw today, did it change whether or not you think the House of Representatives should launch impeachment proceedings?
Speaker Pelosi. My position has always been, whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts. It’s about the Congress, the Constitution and the courts, and we are fighting the President in the courts.
Q: Some of your Members told us over the course of today, we’re expecting imminent action of some kind –
Speaker Pelosi. No, I don’t know why they thought that, again, the lawsuit – we have a number of lawsuits. You want to speak to that Jerry?
Chairman Nadler. Well, the very next step, I’m not going to talk longer-range, the very next step either tomorrow or Friday is we’re going into court to ask for the Grand Jury material, and to subpoena against Mr. McGahn, and that’s particularly important because the excuses, and I won’t call them reasons, the excuses the White House gives for McGahn not testifying and the nonsense about absolute immunity et cetera, are the same excuses for all the other fact witnesses and if we break that we’ll break the log jam?
Q: Where do you stand right now, what do you need to know on impeachment to say, ok we don’t know enough yet –
Speaker Pelosi. Did I just not say, we’re waiting to hear from the courts, so we have our subpoenas in the court, and the subpoenas are for information and when we get that information, we can make a judgement.
Q: So that will be the tell-tale sign?
Speaker Pelosi. We have several consideration about what information is there, and this isn’t endless. This isn’t endless, understand that.
But we have live cases in the courts. We have some that are going forward that Mr. Chairman Nadler just mentioned. It isn’t endless, but with strength in our hand to get that information, remembering that Watergate was when they got the information and the tapes that broke the case. So, it wasn’t just about changing public opinion. That helped change public opinion.
But it isn’t about me, it’s about our Caucus, it’s about our country. As I say, there’s a cone of silence in the White House that is engaging in a massive cover up of obstruction of justice.
Those obstruction of justice charges have been demonstrated today in the hearings, could be indictable offenses, by anybody else, and by the President of the United States when he’s no longer President, but I think if we go down that path we should go in the strongest possible way, and that’s all I’m going to say about the subject. We have our distinguished Chairs here.
Chairman Cummings. May I say something – and I know Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler would repeat what I’m saying.
You know, the American people in the last election, even from Trump districts said we want to make the President accountable. Now the people like him, they love him, but they want to make him accountable. And we have been stonewalled with regard to getting information, access to witnesses and getting documents. All of us have.
Remember the President said, I’m not going to give you anything really. So again, the Speaker is absolutely right, we’re gathering information and we are met with significant force, but we’re on our way through. But all that information, piece by piece, like a mosaic, paints the picture.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, you have long said there’s no point moving forward with an impeachment inquiry because Republicans control the Senate –
Speaker Pelosi. I have never long said that. I have never long said that.
If we have a case for impeachment that’s the place we will have to go. The fact why I’d like it to be a strong case is because it’s based on the facts. The facts and the law, that’s what matters. Not politics, not partisanship, just patriotism. I don’t care, I mean I’d like the Senate to be responsible and honor their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, to see what a challenge this is to our national security. What the Russians are trying to do to our country. But the stronger our case is the worse the Senate will look for just letting the President off the hook.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi –
Speaker Pelosi. We have these great Chairman here who know so much, please! I’m going to start asking them questions if you don’t.
Q: Even after these hearings the President said, he’s completely exonerated –
Speaker Pelosi. Please, come on, come on, come on, let me just say this, you give me the opportunity to say this, and I invite my Chairmen to close. We want to have the strongest possible case to make a decision as to what path we will go down and that does – is not endless in terms of time or endless in terms of the information that we want.
But, if it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the cover up in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward. In fact, it’s even more grounds to go forward.
Chairman Cummings. I just want to – just echo that. You know, Martin Luther King said something that I — is in my DNA and is still in my brain, particularly right now. He said, ‘There comes a point when silence becomes betrayal.’
And we refuse to betray generations yet unborn and the American people. We’re not going to betray them. And the more – we’re accumulating information and doing the best we can.
Again, with a force as great – I don’t know how many lawyers the President has, but he’s got a lot of them and they go against every single thing we do. And so, again, we’re not going to betray America.
We’re going to do our part to make sure that we have a democracy that’s intact.
Speaker Pelosi. Jerry.
Chairman Nadler. The United States is a democracy. It must remain a democracy. A democracy acts through the elected officials with the consent of the people. The people cannot give that consent, unless they know the facts.
Today was a watershed day in telling the facts to the American people. With those facts, we can proceed.
And we face a time of great danger. Richard Nixon said he thought that the President was a dictator. He said, ‘If the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.’
President Trump echoed that yesterday. He said, ‘Under Article II, I’, that is, he, ‘can do anything I want.’ That is a totalitarian picture, not a democratic picture. The United States must be safe from this.
So, we have to paint the picture of what’s going on. A picture of someone, who gladly accepted help from a foreign power interested in subverting our election, our democratic election process. And that’s what it is, subverting our election process and taking the choice of our President, to some extent, away from the American people. That’s what the Russians attempted to do and that’s what the Trump campaign welcomed them in doing.
A President who engages in crimes, repeated crimes, to cover up these unpatriotic and dictatorial actions and this cannot go on. And it is up to Congress to safeguard the Constitution, and we will do it.
Chairman Schiff. As I mentioned today during our hearing, I think the story of the 2016 election is really a story of disloyalty to country, about greed and about lies.
And if there is anything that I think symbolizes those three strands of the 2016 election, it was Moscow Trump Tower. It was this massive real estate project that the President was trying to consummate, while he was running for president and concealing it from the country.
This, I think, demonstrated disloyalty to the country by deceiving the American people about this massive business opportunity he was seeking, while he was running for president. It’s certainly an example of the greed of people involved with that campaign and an ample demonstration of all the lies that permeated the campaign and its aftermath.
That, to me, is the story of the 2016 election. We need to make sure that is not the story of the 2020 election.
And I’ll say this on the issue of impeachment, which I view in very much the same way as the Speaker, maybe I’m just an old prosecutor, but before I brought a case to indictment, I wanted to make sure that I had the strongest evidence possible. I wanted to understand my case, I wanted to be able to make my case.
Now, I tried an impeachment case in the Senate ten years ago: a corrupt federal judge who was convicted. So, I have some understanding of what it takes to get a conviction in the Senate, and I have no illusions about getting a conviction in the Senate.
But there are two juries in an impeachment: there is the jury, which is the Senate, which decides removal from office; and there is the jury that is the American people. And I’m most concerned about the jury that is the American people. And before we embark on a course that is significant to the country as the impeachment of a president, I want to be sure that we can make that case to the American people.
Speaker Pelosi. One of the guidelines – I thank our distinguished Chairmen, so proud of all of them, but just following up on the last statement by Chairman Schiff.
E Pluribus Unum. That’s the guidance our Founders gave us. They couldn’t imagine how many we’d be or how different we’d be from each other, but they wanted us to remember that we are one.
So, when we go down this path, we want it to be as unifying for our country, not dividing. And that’s why, we want it to be the strongest possible case.
Lincoln said, President Lincoln said, ‘Public sentiment is everything.’ Well, in order for the public to have the sentiment, the public has to know. So, I hope you will be our messengers of the truth to the public. We think today was really a milestone in making that sentiment be more informed.
Thank you all very much.