Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Live with Craig Melvin

September 29, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Craig Melvin on MSNBC Live to discuss House Democrats’ updated Heroes Act and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks: 

Craig Melvin.  To talk about that and more, I want to bring in the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.  She's a Democrat representing San Francisco.  She has also restarted her dialogue with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to talk about another round of coronavirus relief. 

Speaker Pelosi, in the last hour, your Deputy Chief of Staff tweeted that you and the Treasury Secretary spoke for about 50 minutes this morning. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.

Craig Melvin.  What did you talk about, and are you any closer to an agreement? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, I’m always optimistic.  I thank you for observing at the start of this part of your show that one million people have lost their lives to this virus.  That's a cause for grave concern and sadness for the world.  And certainly for us in the United States, with the large number, over 200,000 in our country alone.  So, we must take action to crush the virus, and we must do so in a way that reduces the disparities that you pointed out for Black and Hispanic young people or just Black and Hispanic people who are suffering in an undue way with the impact of this virus. 

So, in our legislation, our important goal is to crush the virus, crush the virus so that children – so that we can open our economy, children can go to school in a much safer way, to protect our heroes and to put money in the pockets of the American people.  There were three main pillars of the Heroes Act and there continue to be three main pillars of our reduced package.  Now, when we reduced it, we didn't take out priorities, we just reduced the timeline as to how long those benefits would last.  We hope and pray for a vaccine that would, of course, reduce the necessity for us to go for a longer period of time.  But if we need to, we will. 

Our conversation was a positive one.  We'll get back together tomorrow to see how we can find common ground and how we, again, help state and local government play the role it does.  They're our heroes. 

Craig Melvin.  So, the conversation is ongoing and it's going to continue tomorrow. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.

Craig Melvin.  The price tag of this new plan, as I understand it, about $1.2 trillion less than the relief package that came out of the House back in May.  When will the House – when might the House vote on this current package?  And then, how optimistic are you that the upper chamber will actually take it up? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, we're in a negotiation, and hopefully we'll come to a bipartisan agreement that will remove all doubt that the legislation will pass and be signed by the President.  That's my goal, that we come to agreement so that we can put money in the pockets of the American people, so we can stop what's happening to the airlines.  We only have a couple of days before many people will lose their jobs who are employed by airlines.  That's a date certain, September 30th.  So we want to move quickly on this. 

We've been four months in the making of – waiting for Mr. McConnell to get off the pause button he went on when he said state and local – states should declare bankruptcy.  But let's be on the positive side.  The needs are great, and just a question of money.  I do think the American people are worth it.  

I do believe that a family of four making $30,000, $40,000 a year, should be getting direct payments; should have access to food if they're food insecure; should have assistance for rental; that if they lose their jobs, that they have access to health care immediately in the Affordable Care Act, which our bill provides for; that there are tax credits that can be – Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit.  So, we're talking about the financial security of America's working families, which, by the way, all stimulates the economy, stimulates the economy.  It injects – money will be spent, it injects demand into the economy, creates jobs. 

Craig Melvin.  You've called that reporting from The New York Times, Madam Speaker, about the President's taxes and debt, a national security issue.  You've said that the public has a right to know to whom he owes hundreds of millions of dollars.  Any plans for the House to look into that specific question? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, right now what we're trying to do is to crush the virus, honor our heroes and put money in the pockets of the American people. 

For a long time now, we've had legislation under leadership of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Bill Pascrell, Lloyd Doggett, John Sarbanes and others, to make – to require a candidate for president, a nominee for president releases his or her tax returns so that the American people know. 

And what's important about this is the amount of money that the President owes is a security, a national security issue.  It's not just a question of who he owes the money to, it's a question of how he's going to get the money to pay it back.  And that can affect his decisions on national security.  I’ve had my own concerns about the Russian connection because the President has looked the other way or done bad things in terms of our commitment to NATO, what he's done in Syria, Ukraine, across the board, ignoring the Russian interference into our elections, undermining the security and the integrity of our elections.

What is this about?  Where does the President intend to get this money, this over $400 million to pay back.  So, it's not just about who he owes it to; it's about where he'll get to pay it back. 

Now, let me just say, I have a long history in intelligence, 25 years or so.  If we knew that someone had that exposure, that would be – they would not be able to get a federal job.  And if they were on the other side, that would be an opportunity for us to exploit their indebtedness and try to recruit them to our side. 

So, this is – owing money is a factor in security clearances one way or the other.  The President would not be able to be appointed to his Administration with the debt that he has.  Yet, he's President of the United States paying $750.  Very unfair, not paying his fair share.  But what's important for the Commander in Chief is that he not jeopardize our national security or in any way have it affect any decision that he makes because he is expecting to get some money to pay his debts. 

It's interesting, though.  He paid more taxes to other countries than he did in the United States.  That would be easy when you're paying $750.  It's still interesting from the standpoint of why he was paying more taxes in the Philippines and India and Panama.  That's what we know so far. 

So, this is vitally important.  It's a national security issue no matter who the president is.  He or she cannot have their – the leverage of their office being used for their personal – to pay their personal debts. 

Craig Melvin.  Madam Speaker, you have had some, shall we say, noteworthy encounters with this President.  This photo of you standing across the table from President Trump comes to mind to a lot of folks.  Advice tonight for the Vice President?  What would you advise Joe Biden to do or not do ahead of the debate tonight in Cleveland?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, first let me just say that that picture of my pointing to the President in that way, I'm saying to him, ‘With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.’  It's directly related to our previous conversation. 

In terms of Joe Biden, we're so proud of him.  I always just say to him, ‘Just be you, just show your authenticity, your sincerity, your vision for America, your knowledge of the issues, your strategic thinking about how you're going to get things done for America's working families and your direct connection to their kitchen table concerns about health care and job security and the education of their children, pension security for their seniors.’ 

He has a knowledge of government and our political process that will enable him to get the job done.  He's enormously qualified, and I just want his authenticity and his sincerity and his connection to America's working families to come through.  I'm sure it will.  I'm very excited about the debate. 

I just hope that they bring up subjects of concern.  Like I'm surprised that it wasn't determined by whomever determines these things, that they be talking about the climate issue.  It's a health issue, a pollution issue.  It's a jobs issue.  It's a national security issue, and it's a values issue.  It's a challenge to this generation and multi-generations who are serving now and who are living now. 

So, I would hope – I know Joe Biden will take – he passed one of the first bills in the history of the Congress on climate many years ago.  So, I'm hoping in the course of the debate, it will enable him, and I'm sure it will, to talk about that issue.  If you're asking me what advice: be yourself, save the planet. 

Craig Melvin.  Climate change perhaps won't come up tonight, but two more debates, and the hope is it does come up certainly at some point because that's part of what's happened there in Northern California, those devastating wildfires near San Francisco. 

Really quickly, I want to go back to something you just said related to that picture of you pointing at the President and related to what we were just talking about with regards to his debt and those loans being a national security issue and the fact that, as you pointed out, he's paid more in taxes overseas than he has in this country.  Are you suggesting, Speaker Pelosi, that the President is on the take? 

Speaker Pelosi.  No, I'm not saying he's on the take.  I'm just saying that he didn't pay taxes in our country.  What we're finding out and needs to be confirmed is, he's over $400 million in debt, which would come due during his presidency. 

We should have no president whose judgment is impaired by how he's going to pay back $400 million in debt.  That's what I'm saying.   I'm saying that's a national security issue for our country because whoever he owes – he owes the money to somebody, whoever he wants to get the money to pay it back from will have leverage over him.  We don't want anyone having leverage over our President of the United States. 

Craig Melvin.  We'll leave it there, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Speaker Pelosi, thanks as always for your time. 

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.  Thank you.