Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss the stakes of the Supreme Court fight for Americans’ health care, the more than 125 days since the House passed the Heroes Act and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Andrea Mitchell. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me now from the Capitol. Well, Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning.
Andrea Mitchell. There’s a lot on our plate today, but first and foremost, this tax story. Good morning to you. What is the political ramification? Because, to be frank, we've seen on, you know, the days and months and weeks before the 2016 election, we saw Access Hollywood. We've since learned about payments to porn stars, all kinds of avoidance. The Mueller Report, impeachment, nothing seems to stick. So, is this just another scandal of the day that his base will say, so what?
Speaker Pelosi. I don't want to speak to the politics of it, because that will be up to his supporters and how loyal they want to be to them – to him. I think many of them just don't want to admit they made a mistake. For some of them, that's where we are. They have disrespect for people that – you know that story.
But let's just talk about what Stephanie talked about: the transparency. I'm an intelligence person, as you know. I do know that if there is a review of somebody, if they're going to be federally appointed to a job or whatever, if they have outstanding debt, that is an important factor, because that means somebody else has leverage over them. This President appears to have over $400 million in debt, $420 million, whatever it is, million dollars in debt. To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have?
So, for me, this is a national security question. And in addition to which, it's so strange that in 2017 the President paid $750 in federal taxes, and he paid over $300,000 in taxes to other countries that we know of. It may be more.
So, again, let's come back to, we take an oath to protect and defend. This President is the Commander-in-Chief. He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to whom? The public has a right to know.
Andrea Mitchell. And as you pointed out, you spent years on the Intelligence Committee and now, of course, get briefings as Speaker. So, you know the subject very, very well. Among the countries that he's paying for, the Philippines, where he’s been praising the dictator Duterte; Turkey, Erdogan. These are not, not our closest allies, but they are people he probably has been embracing.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, and of course there’s always Russia. The question is what does Putin have on the President politically, personally, financially and in every way that the President would try to undermine our commitment to NATO, give away the store to Russia and Syria, try to cast blame on Ukraine for interfering in our elections when he knows full well, with the consensus from the intelligence community, that it is Russia. The list goes on and on, the annexation in Crimea, and the rest of that the President just turns away from.
So, he says he likes Putin, and Putin likes him. Well, what's the connection? We'll see. The fact is, whatever that leads to, the fact is over $400 million in leverage that somebody has over the President of the United States. If he were going to be a President – a federal appointee that would be a major obstacle. Because someone has leverage over you in terms of the national security.
Andrea Mitchell. What about the morality of paying $750? What about the morality?
Speaker Pelosi. Sorry. The $750?
Andrea Mitchell. What about the larger question just of the – just of the morality of paying nothing for years and then paying $750 just when you're about to be President or taking office?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, there is no sense of decency. There is no sense of decency. This is a president who wants parades of military armament and the military paying homage to him in front of the White House like he's some kind of a dictator, and yet is he paying for any of that? The protection of our country? $750? Yeah, it's a disdain for America's working families. It's a – it's not right, but our responsibility is to protect and defend, and we have to make sure we know what exposure the President of the United States has and what an impact it has on national security decisions for our country.
You're right. The issue of morality is a larger one, but as you began, you said, let me be frank. You went through some of the other immoralities that the President has been involved in. It really raises the question. He almost, almost a conflict in interest how he's appointed judges who are all waiting for his cases to rise to the level of district, appeals, Supreme Court of the United States.
One other issue that I think, again, to be verified, is that the, the allegation that he told Mitch McConnell that the appointment of the [chief] counsel at the IRS was more important to him, to move that along more quickly than the, than Attorney General Barr. Just connect the dots there.
That's why it's so important what the House has done under leadership of Richie Neal to have this case in the court for the tax returns, but not only that, to make sure that how audits are made of a president are done legally and without bias from the president. A president who is saying to, possibly saying to McConnell, ‘This is a more important appointment. Who is the [chief] counsel at IRS is more important.’ It's really – it's really sad.
What, 36 more days, for the American people to register their plus or minus on this performance of this President? But you know it's one thing to have a disagreement politically. That's what we come here and compete with our, in the world of ideas and the rest, and that's been what our Founders had in mind, but to have, really, the corrosion of any sense of decency, the corrosion of any respect for people and then on top of all of that, just one bill he has passed is to give the – 83 percent of the benefits in his tax scam to the top one percent. So, these people, as you started out, who are so loyal to him, they're loyal to – to their own judgment, but the fact is, that, you know, God bless them for voting in the first place. But we must – people must vote.
If you care about your health care, they're going to take away your pre-existing medical condition [benefit]. Vote health. If you care about any sense of fairness in our economy and in our country, vote. And it all comes back to health anyway, because so much of the expenses that people have are about health care.
But, you know, who could be surprised to see what the President has done? His – everything he has said and done has taken us on a path of not being – you know, we talk about, ‘Oh, it's legal to do this.’ Any sense of the ethical, fair, moral approach to governance and respect for the people? Pay your fair share, Mr. President.
Andrea Mitchell. Madam Speaker, let me ask about the Supreme Court. I know that confirmation is, of course, a Senate function, but yesterday the President said Democrats are brazenly going after Judge Coney Barrett's Catholicism, attacking her religion. Now, you're a devout Catholic. What is your reaction to that? Is there a risk that Democrats not attack this nominee for her religious views and stick to where she might stand as a judge?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the President is trying to, as usual, deflect attention from the fact that we have all spoken out very clearly. The reason the President is in a hurry to make this appointment and have this Justice in place, no matter who it would be, no matter who it would be, is because on November 10th, the oral arguments start on the Affordable Care Act, which he has committed to overturn. That’s why he's in court to overturn your pre-existing condition benefit.
And so, this is – you know, some people make the: ‘Oh, well, Garland.’ No, Garland – Scalia died in February. Ruth Bader Ginsburg died – when she died, ten states were already voting in our country. So, okay, we don't want to get involved in the process, but understand why they were so disrespectful. It's their attitude, but also your pre-existing condition.
If your child is on your policy, forget about it. If you are a woman, we return to a time when being a woman is a pre-existing medical condition. I can, as a mother of five, I can speak with some authority on that subject. If you – your family's availing itself of long-term care by way of Medicaid, forget Medicaid. Forget about it. This is kitchen table concerns. Whether it's health or financial health, they're out to get you. And that's why they were in such a hurry, even as people were voting, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg went to her reward.
Andrea Mitchell. You wrote a letter to your Caucus this weekend alerting them to the possibility that the House might have to decide a contested presidential election. Not the Court, but the House, which would give Republicans a narrow victory. They have 26 majority delegations right now, versus 22 for the Democrats. But it would be the newly elected House.
Speaker Pelosi. That’s right.
Andrea Mitchell. Do you think that's a real possibility?
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, I sent the letter because that's what the President said at one of his unmasked, cozy-up rallies the other day. He talked about the House and said the numbers that you just said. So, I had been working on this for a while. I’ve been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election. And kind of sub rosa – since he went public, then so did I.
Because the – let's just say this – anything we do to increase our number in the House of state delegations or Members of Congress, wherever they are, will help us hold the House, enlarge our size, win the Senate and elect Joe Biden President of the United States on election day, or the few days that it takes to count thereafter.
So, this is a – a collateral benefit, but at the same time insuring us against the mess that the President would like to create for our country. By the time you get to the House, you have to be over – he'd have all kinds of violations of our democracy, but it could end up there because that's what the Constitution says. But you have to have a Majority. And in making sure he doesn't have a Majority, we want to grow the Majority in the House, the Senate and the White House. That –
Andrea Mitchell. And very briefly, any talk –
Speaker Pelosi. Elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Andrea Mitchell. I just want to ask very quickly before you go. Have there been any talks between you and Secretary Mnuchin? Any progress at all with COVID relief?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we'll see. Our last conversation, a brief conversation yesterday, although he was observing, and so before all of the – that family coming together –
Andrea Mitchell. Yom Kippur.
Speaker Pelosi. We had a brief conversation about when we would continue our conversation today.
I think it is very possible to meet the needs of the American people. We've come down $1 trillion and they need to come up because we have to crush this virus. We have to crush this virus. The President hasn't faced that reality. We have to crush this virus, in order to open up our schools safely and our economy.
We have to reward our heroes: health care workers, first responders, police and fire, teachers, teachers, teachers, transportation, food workers, sanitation, you name it. We have to honor our heroes, who risk their lives to save lives and now may lose their jobs and go on Unemployment Insurance. Why? Because the President will not face the reality.
And then put money in the pockets of the American people. We can get this done. They just have to – it takes money. It takes money to crush the virus. It takes money to make the schools safe. It takes money to put money in people's pockets.
And, of course, we want some resources to make sure that the state, that the elections are held. Democrats and Republicans, across the country, in charge of elections, want that money to make sure that people don't have to choose between their health and their vote. Because the money will enable them to have this space, the early voting and what it takes to get the job done. We want to protect the Census, we want to protect the Post Office, which they're trying to dismantle, so it takes money. That's not a lot of money there. It is a lot of money to honor our heroes, crush the virus and put money in people's pockets.
So, I think we can find our common ground and we're ready when he comes back – I don’t want to say – when he's ready to come back to the table, we're ready to have that conversation, but he has to come back with much more money to get the job done. So, I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic.
Andrea Mitchell. Madam Speaker, let’s end it on a hopeful, optimistic note. Thank you very much. Thanks for being with us today.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you. Nice to be with you always.