Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes

August 31, 2020
Press Release

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes to discuss the more than 100 days since the House passed the Heroes Act, the cancellation of election security briefings for Congress and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Chris Hayes.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me now.  Let me first start, Speaker, it is great to have you with your understanding of what this decision is, why it happens and what its implications are. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let's just put it in its perspective.  The National Security Act of 1947 states very clearly that the Intelligence Community must fully and currently brief Congress on intelligence matters.  So, they are flying in the face of a law which established all of this procedure — we said ‘shockingly,’ but it is hard to be shocked anymore at the abuse of power of this Administration, now isn't it? 

It's very clear that the President wants, invites, appreciated, appreciates Russia's involvement in our election, which is not lawful, which is not lawful.  So, when the President doesn't want Congress briefed or the American people – by the way, this intelligence belongs to the American people.  It belongs to the Congress.  The Administration is the custodian of it, and we protect sources and methods.  But we do also protect our elections.  We don't want Vladimir Putin deciding who the next president is.  We want the American people to decide that.  The President thinks otherwise.

Chris Hayes.  Just a sort of technical question, but I have been unclear from the reporting.  Is this, no one in Congress gets the briefings?  Or the committees don't and the Gang of Eight, the leadership still does?  What is your understanding of what they're saying the policy is now? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, whatever it is, it's wrong.  I mean, that is to say, they have a responsibility to brief the committees and also the full Congress and they set up those opportunities to happen.  And we accepted them.  We set the dates.  So, this was all on a path until they must have gotten orders from headquarters that they should not brief the Congress.

They're using the excuse of leaks when we don't know of any leaks, and we don't want any leaks and we would condemn any leaks.  But that is not a reason, it is an excuse on the part of the President.  As we all know and you said so clearly, he doesn't even want to hear the word ‘Russia.’  We don’t know politically, personally, financially what Russia has on this President, but it must be something.

But for people in his party to go along with this, that can sometimes be shocking.  Nothing he does is shocking, but you would think with their history in the Congress, their knowledge of the intelligence process and how valuable that is, that they would corrupt it for Donald Trump is – that is shocking. 

Chris Hayes.  Obviously I was going to ask you what the recourse is here –  

Speaker Pelosi.  I have every intention – I have every intention that the Gang of Eight will be briefed.  But I have never wanted it to stay there.  I always wanted more Members, the committees and the Congress to know because they have to make decisions.  And how can they make decisions if only eight people know what is relevant to their judgment?

Chris Hayes.  There is a huge decision out of a three-judge panel of the D.C. Appellate Court today, ruling 2-1, somewhat of a remarkable ruling that essentially there is no Constitutional power for the courts to enforce a Congressional subpoena.  It has to do with former White House Counsel Don McGahn.  It's been working its way through the courts for a long time.  Basically saying, ‘look, that's up to you, Congress, I guess, with your inherent contempt abilities, but don't come crying to us, the courts.’  You released a statement saying you’re going to appeal that.  What is your reaction to that decision? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, again, to put it in perspective, they ruled against us before, this three-judge court, and they said we did not have standing to bring this.  We appealed it to what they called en banc, the full court, which is eleven members, and they ruled in our favor that we did.  That was on standing, but this is on the substance.

So, we will appeal this to the en banc court, and we'll see what happens there.  And at that point we have options to go to the Supreme Court.  If we win there, they will probably go to the Supreme Court and then Congress can act upon it, pass legislation and the rest. 

But the very idea that they would undermine the system of checks and balances, three co-equal balances of government, each a check and balance on the other, to have this third branch of government appointed by the President to make a ruling against the Constitution just shows you, on top of what we just talked about, just tells you how important the next election is.  Let's put it that way. 

Chris Hayes.  In terms of between now and the election, there is this looming question about any kind of subsequent relief or rescue money.  There has been an impasse.  The Heroes Act passed out of the House three months ago or four months ago, I want to say. 

Speaker Pelosi.  May 15th.

Chris Hayes.  It sat there, but Mitch McConnell didn't take it up – May 15th.  They got a few good job numbers and they thought, ‘oh, we’re done with this.’  Then there was a huge second spike.  We have seen economic activity level off, a lot of people are struggling.  The President jury-rigged this Executive Order to maybe give people some relief, it's not going to last very long and is incomplete.  Are negotiations ongoing and where are they? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, you have described the situation very well, except I’ll put some numbers on it.  We passed a bill on May 15th.  At that time, Mitch McConnell pressed the ‘pause’ button.  He said there was no reason for us to do anything.  Since that time, 4.6 million more people have been infected, four and a half million more people have been infected and 96,000 more people have died.  Thank you for your pause, Mitch McConnell — too bad you didn't tell the virus to pause. 

Okay.  So we have – are engaged in these negotiations.  But just look at it this way.  What further evidence does anyone need that this President didn't care less about the spread of this virus than to see what he did, vandalizing, by the way, the White House by bringing all those people there, no masks, no distancing and the rest?  He slapped science right in the face, and what a bad example that was. 

So, if we are going to succeed in negotiations, we have to look to the science.  Dr. Jha has told us over and over that we need three million tests a day.  That's what we have in the Heroes Act.  But they just won't do it, they won't take up a strategic plan to do that.  They won't do state and local government, which is so essential to our heroes, hence called the Heroes Act for health care and first responders and sanitation, transportation, teachers, teachers, teachers, flood suppliers and the rest. 

So, we have a real problem here because they will not – they do not understand the gravity of the problem.  They refuse to accept the science and what science is advising.  And, hence, we have this situation where I think that what the – what Donald Trump is saying to the American people, because now we're coming into school this week, kids are going to school and the rest, he's saying to them: choose me over your child, because I’m not going to spend the money it takes to make it safe to go back to school.  I’m not going to do what it takes to stop the spread of this virus when kids go to school to have the ventilation, the spacing, the teachers that you need to do that.  

This is appalling.  But again, yet again, another reason why if only they would pay attention to the scientists, scientists.  Testing, tracing, treating, spacing, masks, sanitation and the rest.  Instead, the President just wants, what, now, herd immunity, which is totally discredited by anyone who knows anything about epidemiology except his adviser who knows nothing about it. 

Chris Hayes.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, representing her district there in San Francisco as you can see from the backdrop.  And it sounds like we're not that much closer on this bill. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we need to be. 

Chris Hayes.  Thank you very much for making –

Speaker Pelosi.  We need to be.  Let me just say –   

Chris Hayes.  Well, I hope something passes, if I can editorialize.

Speaker Pelosi.  We do too.  We do too.  But, again, let me just say this week, we're having our Day of Action for kids going back to school and you'll see what parents, teachers, children think about this.  But, again, we very much want to have an agreement. 

Thank you.  Thank you, Chris. 

Chris Hayes.  Thank you.  Thank you, Speaker.  Appreciate it.