Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist and Kasie Hunt on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the stakes of the Supreme Court fight for Americans’ health care, House Democrats’ updated Heroes Act and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Mika Brzezinski. Joining us now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Madam Speaker, your thoughts on what happened last night and what would you call it?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it was really a sad night for our country in that the President of the United States would not disassociate himself from white supremacists and terrorists in our country. I lost a lot of sleep last night over that one fact, but I did know that he has never respected the dignity of his office and he demonstrated that last night.
I think one thing he did present was the authenticity of who he is, with disregard for bringing our country together, with any knowledge of the challenge we face with the coronavirus, with catering to his base by saying what he said about the Proud Boys and white supremacists.
Mika Brzezinski. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. Actually, he's moved. In Charlottesville we were disgusted when he said there are good people on both sides. This time, he didn't even grant that to the other side. And so, this was a very sad occasion.
I think we have to be prayerful. Yesterday, I began the day with a group of interfaith people led by Sister Simone Campbell, of course, and others though, who were having a day of prayer of unity for our country, that we could come together to meet the needs of the American people. Clearly, with this President, our prayers – we either are not praying hard enough or they're just not working but some kind of intervention is necessary. And if his family, for his personal health or his colleagues, his Republican associates, for the good of their party and our country don't want to intervene, then the election has to be the major intervention on this President's behavior.
Mika Brzezinski. Should there be, Madam Speaker, should there be more debates given the President broke all the rules that he agreed to during this debate last night?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, as you know, I never thought he would – that anybody should reduce themselves to being on the stage with him because we know what his behavior was going to be like. I'm just sorry they didn't turn off the microphone when it was Joe Biden's turn to speak and turn it on when it was the President's turn to speak, and we would not have had this disruption. You would have thought that would have been a simple thing to do. But, you know, He's been enabled his whole life and now the American people are paying a price, paying a price for the fact that no one has ever said to him, ‘no.’
And this is so tragic because I pray for him every day. I pray for the personal security of him and his family. I pray God will open his heart to the goodness of the American people so that we can come together, E Pluribus Unum, from many one, that our Founders gave us guidance to do.
But when you see the behavior, just the lack of respect for the office he holds, the indignity of – what you saw really was authenticity. You saw his authenticity and you saw Joe Biden's authenticity. And I just think the contrast was so great. I just wish it could have been more focused on the fact that he is trying to deprive people of pre-existing condition [benefits], that he was and is a total failure when it comes to addressing the coronavirus crisis, that while he can talk about the economy all he wants, but tens of millions of people have filed for Unemployment Insurance, that we want our children to go to school, yes, but safely, and our economy to open, but safely.
So, you know, we – the American people deserve that discussion to happen. And what is the vision each person has for the future? Elections are about the future. What about the future? What is your vision. What are your priorities? How do you intend to get it done? And how are you connecting heart to heart with the American people, addressing their kitchen table concerns?
Instead, we saw a political nervous breakdown, a meltdown, and an appeal to his – part of his base. I don't think his whole base are that way, but I do think all the people [who] are that way voted for him.
Joe Scarborough. So, Madam Speaker, I’ve written down a couple things really quickly about what Donald Trump said last night, and I’m curious what the response should be from our elected leaders, especially governors in affected states. He told violent white supremacists and anti-Semites to stand by. Trump and his family called for armies of people to crowd voting locations, and then he said, last night, he wanted to add to the Supreme Court, so he’ll have one more vote. Of course, that would be for efforts to block Americans’ votes from being counted. What should our public elected officials do, whether they're in Congress or whether you're the governor of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina? What should they be doing to prepare for this onslaught, this challenge to the counting of every vote?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let us hope that it really does not materialize. You know, there are three stages – I don’t have to tell you – to elections. The period leading up, and that’s the period in which we also have early voting; what happens on Election Day, and that’s the cautionary warning that you are giving us; and then what happens after, in the counting of the votes.
The integrity of our elections must be maintained. Democratic or Republican, the result will be respected, but Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country, I don’t know what real role that they have unless we’re talking about just stopping the violence that the President is trying to invoke. But I do know that he is intimidating people, and that is really an argument for people to vote by mail, vote early, vote by mail. Don’t be intimidated by going to polling places and see people who look like ICE agents or law enforcement or something, who might follow you home to see, you know, if you have a mixed status home or something like that. This is so – we’ve never seen anything like this before, but then again, we’ve never had a president before who would disregard all that the Constitution says about guardrails and the rest. A person who was just a rogue President of the United States, and it’s most unfortunate.
But nonetheless, be prayerful that somebody will intervene today and say, ‘You just tipped the scale too far.’ I – one of my prayers is that the Republicans will take back their party. The country needs a strong Republican Party that’s done so much for our country, and to have it be hijacked as a cult at this time is really a sad thing for America, also, as it gives credence to white supremacists.
And there are people who vote for Trump because they’re pro-life, and I respect that position. I come from a family oriented that way, but it shouldn’t be a position that says it’s OK to take babies out of the hands of their moms. It shouldn’t be to give him license to do all the things that he’s doing.
And again, you talk about the Court. He’s – the day that Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, Justice Ginsburg passed away, ten states were already voting that day. The election was on. The election was on. And again, that didn’t seem to matter to him because he wanted to rush the decision so that he could overturn your pre-existing condition benefit. People should know that this is about them. It’s about them, the Affordable Care Act, being a woman no longer a pre-existing medical condition, the list goes on. But the pre-existing medical condition, the preventive care and free annual checkups that mean a lot to the prevention, to the health care, to the financial health of the American people. So, it all comes back to what it means to them.
But there's absolutely no question that what you say is so, that he wants to cause chaos, take it to the courts, when he takes it to the courts, prolong the process so that there would not be a majority of the – of the Electoral College by the December assigned date. And that's when he starts talking about, well I'll take it to the House, the Representatives.
What is this? What is this about the Republicans that they don't care enough about what they believe in as a party, a legitimate party with beliefs and their view of the role of government. And we know – you and I have had that debate ourselves in Congress, Joe – but it, it's existed since the beginning of our country. So, I just – I pray that they would get us a Grand Old Party again.
What they say to me, not the ones in Congress, because they're full wedded to Trump, because they – what, any issue you can name, they're there with Trump. Name any issue. Name immigration and gun safety, a woman's right to choose, LGBTQ, fairness in our economy, denial on the climate and the rest of that. That's all who've they been longer than Trump. He's their guy.
So, from a philosophical – policy standpoint, he's their guy. But from a decency standpoint, that's not who the Republican Party in this country is. And I'm proud of people like Tom Ridge and others who have come forward to separate themselves from this version of, of what is the Republican Party in the White House.
Willie Geist. Hard to see Republicans intervening at this point after they haven't for four years. Speaker Pelosi, good morning, it's Willie Geist. I want to ask you –
Speaker Pelosi. Hi Willie.
Willie Geist. As I watched that debate last night and watched the chaos and watched Donald Trump talking over Joe Biden and hijacking the debate, I was thinking about people, tens of millions of people who are out of work, people who have lost their small businesses, and they desperately need relief. You all in the House rolled out a new COVID relief package on Monday –
Speaker Pelosi. We did.
Willie Geist. $2.2 trillion. Reports are you were on the phone for almost an hour yesterday with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. You may speak to him again, I understand, today. How close are you to getting this relief? And to – to people watching, taking politics out of it and saying, we need help and we needed it a couple of months ago, by the way. How close are you?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I'm hopeful and we'll just see what they come back with today and how our negotiations go next. But we passed our bill over four months ago.
Willie Geist. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. And it was a large bill because we have large needs in our country. They started putting forth skinny bills – or, which Chuck calls it, emaciated bills – that do not meet the needs of our country.
So, we – we're willing to cut back $1 trillion and even more, not in taking out priorities, but taking out the length of time. So, we'd do it until the end of this May – excuse me – February or something, rather the end of September or December. We'll revisit that next January. But nonetheless, for now, getting the money that we need. So, it's not about changing priorities, it's about adjusting the timetable and the cost involved in that.
But, we don't have shared values with them. You have to understand, when we talk about rent, for a long time they said, ‘Those people have money, they can pay rent, they just don't feel like it.’ When we talk about feeding the food insecure in our country, of which millions of children in those same families that are on the verge of eviction, they're like, well you know we – now we've gotten them to a place where they did put some money into the Continuing Resolution to keep government open. We hope that that argument is over, but it took time to get us to this place.
So, it's unfortunate that it's taken this long, but I hope that today – I always want to keep the door open for us to have a solution. It's a negotiation, we won't get everything we want, but they're very disdainful, they're disdainful of working families in our country, and they have a big tax break in the bill from the CARES Act that we're trying to overturn. And they just don't see why that should happen.
So, anyways, we have our differences, we have to find our common ground. That's our responsibility.
Mika Brzezinski. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. It's too bad that it took them this long to realize that to come to the table.
Mika Brzezinski. The host of Way Too Early, Kasie Hunt, has the next question. Kasie.
Speaker Pelosi. Yes. Hi Kasie. How's the baby?
Kasie Hunt. Good morning, Speaker Pelosi. Nice to see you. He's wonderful. Thank you for asking.
Speaker Pelosi. That’s good.
Kasie Hunt. Earlier this week, before the debacle last night, you wrote a letter to all of your – the Members of your Caucus saying that you should prepare for an Electoral College tie. And obviously we heard, as Joe mentioned, the President talking about what could happen as these votes are counted and the dramatic scenarios that we may face. What are you doing in the House to lay the groundwork for Congress's role in whatever may come between the Election and Inauguration Day?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, for a long time I have been measuring the President's behavior in all of this just to see how far he would go to undermine the integrity of our elections, whether it was dismantling the postal system, whether it was inviting and welcoming instead of turning off Russian interference into our elections, whether it’s scaring people off by their intimidation of who they’d have at the polls as Joe was mentioning – that was mentioned earlier. And I was watching how they were conducting themselves. And it’s been clear to me that he wanted to cause chaos. That’s his order of the day. Chaos and confusion. That’s his order of the day for him almost every day.
So, in light of that, what are the possibilities that he would declare victory on election night and say the vote-by-mail doesn’t count, ‘I won by those who voted in person’? Well, we’ll see what that outcome is, and I’m urging everyone to get out there and vote.
Secondly, that he would then have some of his allies in states send Electoral College folks who – say Biden wins this state, and it’s a Republican legislature and state, and they would say, ‘Well, we’re sending Trump electors.’ Well, we’d take that to court. That takes time. Of course, we know what he’s doing with the Court now to be an endgame for him there in the courts.
So, with all of that, it takes time. Even if you win in court, it takes time. And if you don’t have the Electoral College number, the majority by a certain date, the Constitution says the House shall choose. The House of Representatives voting by state. That means California with 53 Members of Congress has one vote, and that means that Alaska with one Member of Congress has one vote. You get the point.
And so, he was – so I was doing this sub rosa, kind of quietly, raising money, put it in supporting the candidates. Fortunately, because of the leadership of our Chair, Cheri Bustos, she has great candidates all over the country, so we didn’t have to all of a sudden create a race that we were behind these people just to – and win the House, maintain our – hold the House and grow our Majority. But with that it made some of these places requiring a stronger emphasis, and that is what we’re doing now.
So, he started saying in the last two of his maskless, people crowded together rallies, ‘I’m going to take it. I can win in the House because they have – we have 28.’ Of course, they have North, South Dakota, Idaho. I – excuse me, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska like that. They have all these states that have one vote – few people, one vote. We have 400 – we have 40 million in California. There are 500,000 people in Wyoming. We each have one vote, but you can make the case in New York or Florida, Joe, or Illinois or wherever, where you see the great disparity. In the interest of our Founders, they never – the states did not have that big, diverse difference in state size.
But anyway, so, he’s announcing to them I have 28 votes, so it behooves us to make sure that he – excuse me, he has 26 votes. We have 22. Two are even, so it’s important for us to make sure as the Constitution says, nobody has a Majority in the House because it’s very clear the winner is the person with a Majority in the House. So, we just have to take him down one vote. We’d rather take – we’d rather have the 26 ourselves, but we just have to take him down one vote.
And why that’s important is in doing so, we’re helping to elect the Senate. We’re helping in the Electoral College states so the resources will not be squandered. They're being put to good use. And in addition to that, it would be a message to his henchmen who are out there with him to say don’t even bother causing this chaos because there ain’t no light at the tunnel for you in the House of Representatives. And I’m giving you the abbreviated version. There are other things that we can do as well. Believe it or not, that was the abbreviated version.
Mika Brzezinski. All right, House Speaker –
All right, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much for being on the show with us this morning.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.