Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace

September 23, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House to discuss the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the more than 125 days since the House passed the Heroes Act and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Nicolle Wallace.  We're honored now to be joined from Capitol Hill by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Madam Speaker, first, your thoughts on Justice Ginsburg? 

Speaker Pelosi.  It's so heartbreaking.  She was so courageous, so brave, so brilliant.  She had so many diagnoses, which she overcame.  She was a real fighter in terms of her personal health and for justice and America, both.  But at the end, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, she said her good-byes, and it's heartbreaking for all of us.  But may she be an inspiration for us to go forward. 

I was sharing with Members today a story that she told.  A couple of years ago, we had Women's History Month.  That's March.  We honored the women members of the Supreme Court.  She being the senior member, she spoke on behalf of them, and she talked about the first woman who tried to be accepted [to argue] before the Court. 

The judge said no because she was a woman.  She then went on – this is over 150 years ago – she went onto the Congress and lobbied and lobbied and lobbied until the Congress passed a bill that said that if the person met all the qualifications of speaking before the Supreme Court, whether they're a woman or not, they would be able to do that.

So, Justice Ginsburg went on to say, ‘This is one time when the Congress was more in tuned about what was going on in the country than the Court.’  I love that story. 

Nicolle Wallace.  You know, we rushed – your story reminds me that we in the media rushed past remembering her legacy because of the political crisis that it put in motion.  And I wonder, both – if you could just speak to both of those challenges for you personally?  Everything she believed in, and it's a lot of the same things you believe in, and have championed seems at risk with the mounting reality that Donald Trump will be able to confirm a Justice to replace her. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, as everyone knows, she was tiny if physical stature, but monumental in her impact on the Court.  So, when the word came that she had passed, it was devastating, personally, as well as officially.  I never thought, shame on me, for hoping for the best, that the Republicans would within a couple of hours of the news of her passing say when they were going to try to fill the seat. 

Notice I didn't say, ‘Replace Justice Ginsburg.’  They're not going to replace Justice Ginsburg, but to fill that seat.  You would have thought that any sense, one grain, one iota of decency would have had them to say, ‘Let us thank God for her as a blessing, even though we didn't always agree with her.  Let us pay our respects to her family, so that they can properly bid their farewell to her so that she can rest in peace.’ 

That's not what they had in mind.  And I think the rush is all about the President wanting to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  So, we're saying to people, if you care about having the benefit of a pre-existing condition, understand, that's what the President has in mind, overturning the pre-existing condition [benefit], taking your kids off your policy, your adult children, who are there until they're 26. 

It's also about turning around the progress made for women's health, where – to a day where being a woman is a pre-existing medical condition.  Medicare, Medicaid, all of it affected by the Affordable Care Act, and lifetime limits that affect people.  They have to have a limit on what they're expected to pay. 

So, it is about kitchen table issue for the American people.  So, if they want to open the discussion, let's tell everyone why.  It's to overturn the Affordable Care Act and all the benefits that benefit the lives and livelihood of the American people.  So sad. 

You know the oral arguments begin November 10th.  Oral arguments begin November 10th, so they want to get somebody in there November 10th.  Most unfortunate. 

Nicolle Wallace.  And in addition to turning the clock backward on reproductive freedoms, and as you said, overturning the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump has made it a line in his rallies that he expects the courts to determine the outcome of the presidential election. 

Speaker Pelosi.  We’ll see, the President, as we know, is a master of diversion.  He'll change the subject anytime.  Right now, he is the subject of concern because he's been a total failure in addressing the coronavirus, as we cross that sad barrier of 200,000 people who have died because of it.  

We mourn.  We mourn the Justice, that's for sure.  She's 87 years old, she's lived a brilliant life.  We would have loved for her to live to be over 100.  But this is 200,000 other people, husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, loved ones who have lost their loved one and we have to mourn each and every one of those, as well. 

And this President has been a total failure in protecting the health and well-being of the American people by his delay, his distortion, and his denial of the – well, the virus, but also, ignoring the solutions that we have, in fact, in the Heroes Act, a comprehensive plan, again and again, for how to crush the virus.  Instead, he wants to crush the Affordable Care Act in the courts, in the time of a pandemic. 

Nicolle Wallace.  Madam Speaker, we've talked about your role in sort of – steering and oversight role in the area of intelligence.  It's been described to me as nothing short of a moment of crisis, an hour of crisis for the CIA and the intelligence agencies.  Yesterday's report that Putin is likely directing the disinformation campaign against Joe Biden, reporting in the New York Times that the Russian trolls are basically at risk of being put out of work because they can just screenshot Donald Trump's twitter feed.  And then the reporting in Politico today that the CIA Director Gina Haspel, takes the Russia House intelligence and filters it through a political appointee, the General Counsel there at the CIA, before any of it makes it to the White House.  What do you do to make sure that the intelligence product isn't corrupted? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I’m unaware of what you said today about Director Haspel.  I hope that Haspel – I hope that that is not true, because that would be a major distortion of intelligence, intelligence.  As I’ve said again and again, the intelligence is our first defense in terms of protecting the American people.  It is – when I first went into the intelligence world, it was like 25 years ago, it was about force protection.  How we protect our troops if they are going to go into battle, or if they are there, how we have force protection.  It's not about politics.  It's about patriotism.  It's about our country. 

But to infiltrate the intelligence community for a political reason is a grave injustice.  And that is exactly what this President is doing.  They claim, ‘Well, he heard, didn't hear, he doesn't read, he does read.’  It doesn't matter.  There's an obligation on the part of the intelligence community to brief the President of the United States on a daily basis, and the rest of us, too.  As I have said, they don't own the intelligence, they are the custodians of it.  They must brief the rest of us, as well, so that we can make judgments for the American people.  And for them to have a distortion, knowingly, wittingly, by the political side of things is really – will harm our national security. 

I joined Director Brennan in saying what he said about our men and women working in intelligence field.  They deserve our gratitude, they risk their lives, their families make sacrifices.  And when their work is politicized – and I’ve been a victim of it in my time some years ago, by the politicization of it.  It's just simply wrong.  It's a tragedy for our country.  

And I hope that what you said about Gina isn't true, because I have more respect for her than to think that there would be a political filter before anything is said to the President, even though it goes into a tizzy when anybody talks about Russia.  We know that because, as I say again and again, with him all roads lead to Putin.  We don't know what Putin has on him politically, personally, financially, whatever it is, but for the President to say now, ‘I like Putin and he likes me,’ just shows you how bereft he is of any sense of patriotism, or the protection of our intelligence community and the sacredness of our elections means to our democracy.

Nicolle Wallace.  Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  Madam Speaker, thank you for spending time with us.  I saw it – all that you have on your plate.  So much going on at this moment for our country 42 days out. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Let me say one thing: Breonna Taylor, Breonna Taylor, Breonna Taylor.  Say her name. 

Thank you, Nicolle. 

Nicolle Wallace.  Thank you.  Thank you for bringing it back to that.  The news that we started with.