Feb 13, 2020
Nancy Pelosi News Conference Transcript: Calls Trump’s Actions “Abuse of Power”
Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference and took several shots at the Trump administration. She called Trump weighing in on the Roger Stone case an “abuse of power” and said A.G. William Barr has “deeply damaged the rule of law.” Read her full comments.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
To vote on the floor of the House for the ratification, extending the date for the ratification, of the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s an historic day, it’s a happy day. I commend our Chairman, Jerry Nadler, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, for bringing legislation to the floor, Jackie Spear, the author of the resolution who has been a relentless champion for women’s rights in the Congress and in the country, Carolyn Maloney, who has for a very long time been advocating for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and now extending the date will enable us to do that.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:37)
We’re very proud of the state of Virginia who just came through on for women, for families, and that in the Chair, that Congresswoman Wexton from Virginia is presiding. She fought for the RA in the Virginia legislature, it didn’t happen until they got the majority and then, and she’s here now, so, to preside over it, it’s pretty exciting. It’s pretty exciting when you think of what it means. And I can’t understand how people can vote against their own interest as a woman, about their wives, their daughters, their sisters, their mothers, are not equal and they should be equal under the law whether it’s relates to wage discrimination, whether it relates to sexual harassment, whether pregnancy discrimination. As a mother of five, and four of whom are daughters, I’m very excited about what this means for families and what it may mean for women to be better represented of all the seats of decision and power in our country.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:46)
So again, there’s no reason for this. Some people are putting forth excuses, but we expect to have a bipartisan vote in the Senate. I hope we will have a bipartisan vote in the House, and hopefully it will be brought up in the Senate. So again, as our theory has been, when women succeed, America succeeds. That’s what we believe and that’s what we’re acting upon today. Again, but this week was marked by the introduction of the president’s budget. You’ve heard me say again and again, a budget should be a statement of our national values, a federal budget should be a reflection of what is important to us as a nation. This budget is without any commitment to values. In fact, it is in complete reversal of the promises the president made in the campaign and a contradiction of what he said in the State of the Union Address.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:45)
As you know, he talked about being there for Medicare and social security, well he cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars in his budget, cut tens of billions of dollars from disability benefits from social security. And the issue of Medicaid, $900 billion, almost a trillion dollars, from Medicaid, that’s 60% of Hong Kong healthcare, is paid for by Medicaid. This is a middle class benefit. Yes, some Medicaid goes to the poor, poor children especially, but a majority of the funds paying for longterm care for America’s seniors and others comes from Medicaid, $900 billion just to name something. It’s an appalling budget. A time of… imagine when the whole world is fighting the coronavirus, the president cuts out $1.2 billion from the Center for Disease Control, who’s put job it is to fight the coronavirus and others like it.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:56)
And farmers, the president talks about farmers. Farmers have record numbers of bankruptcy now, and in the budget the president slashes the farmer safety net by $60 billion while stealing $200 billion from SNAP. SNAP is directly related to our farmers. When I go into the Midwest and I meet farmers who tell me they are on food stamps because of their economic situation, but Senator Dole and Senator McGovern established a SNAP program to help address food insecurity but also to benefit farmers who provide that food. There are cuts the… we talk about rebuilding America, and the president and his budget cut 13% of the Department of Transportation and also has massive cuts in the Army Corps of Engineers, which is very essential to infrastructure building. And then for clean air and clean water, if cuts 25% from the EPA.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:04)
This budget is disgraceful in many ways just as simply as the air our children breathe, the water they drink, just slash it. Not important to us. And all the while reinforcing what he’s going to do on taxes, to continue his tax scam, adding more money, more debt, more national debt, for our children to pay so he can give tax cuts up to the high end, so we can say, “See. See the market’s up,” well you slash taxes and do one thing and another. Now we want our economy to succeed and we’re happy when the indicators are positive, but let’s not build that on the backs of our children and their future.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:50)
Dozens of groups from the AARP to Young and [inaudible 00:05:54], I don’t have a Z yet, but Y, have come out against the bill. And the ARP representing 17 million seniors wrote this, “We are deeply concerned about the proposed funding reductions to Medicare, Medicaid, social security, nutrition assistance, caregiver support, housing assistance and other assistance for older Americans, ARP calls on Congress to protect these critical programs that millions of Americans rely on for their health and financial security.” That’s their statement. I’ll add to that, that many of these people are veterans, over a million veterans benefit from Medicaid and Snap, the SNAP program. Food insecurity sadly is prevalent in our veterans community.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:46)
We also saw the president this week demonstrate once again that he has no respect for the rule of law. His assault on the rule of law by engaging in political interference in the sentencing of his associate Roger Stone indicated obstruction of investigation into Trump Russia ties and witness tempering, that’s what Stone was indicted for. This is an abusive power, that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest. And the president is what he is. He thinks he’s above the law. He has no respect for the rule, but where are the Republicans to speak out on this blatant violation of the rule of law? AG Barr has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing the DOJ’s sentencing recommendation, the act of interference, and Trump’s retribution against lead attorney in the Stone case. Imagine the four of the prosecutors separated themselves from the case when the president did that, just days after firing Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin for speaking truth to power. This all must be investigated.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:03)
The American people must have confidence in our nation’s system of impartial justice. And withdrawal of the four career prosecutors, the case, what an act of courage on their part. It must be commended with the actions of the justice department. Justice department has this, should have this aura of something so apolitical, so above the political fray that people have confidence in the rule of law in our country. The attorney general has stooped to such levels, he’s lied to Congress for which he will be in contempt, he has engaged in these activities. What a sad disappointment to our country. The American people deserve better. We are leaving now for a district or a period on listening to the concerns of our constituents. With their help, we formulated our, for the people agenda, what is important to them, their kitchen table concerns. Lower the cost of healthcare by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, retaining, protecting the preexisting condition benefit, president said he’s all for it, he’s their defender, and yet he’s in court to overturn it.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:21)
Building the infrastructure, lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure of America. Hopefully we can find common ground on both of those scores with the White House. Lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. I don’t think we’ll find too much common ground on that score. But anyway, this is a day to celebrate, a day that the Equal Rights Amendment extension is passed on the floor of the House and we’re very eager to send it over to the Senate where I understand it has bipartisan support. Let’s only hope that the Grim Reaper will allow a voice of American women and those who support American women to be heard on the Senate floor. Questions? You sir.
Speaker 2: (10:07)
So you just said that the president abused his power, again,-
Nancy Pelosi: (10:11)
Yeah, I did.
Speaker 2: (10:11)
… by injecting himself into this process with Roger Stone, what recourse does Congress have? Would you concede that the president is untouchable at this point and it’s just up to the voters this fall? Or is there something that Congress is going to do about it?
Nancy Pelosi: (10:24)
Well, they should be investigated. The leader in the Senate has called for inspector general to look into this. Our committee, the judiciary committee, as you know has invited and he has accepted the attorney general come before the judiciary committee, and that will be the end of March. I wish it were sooner, but he did accept the invitation so we don’t have to go another step there. But this is not what America is about. It is so wrong. And again, I keep… public sentiment is making a judgment about this, but I would hope that Republicans who respect the rule of law, and I assume most of them do, except for the aberration in the White House and his henchmen, that they would speak out on this too because it cannot stand. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (11:19)
A couple days ago, you told me that Bloomberg’s participation in the presidential race is positive.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:24)
Speaker 3: (11:24)
Now I’m going to ask you to follow up, why, can you expand on that?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:27)
Because I think every candidate in the race has had a positive influence on the race. They bring their ideas, they bring their why, why they’re running, what they know about as their priority issues, their strategic thinking about how they want to accomplish those goals and give people confidence that they can in as much a bipartisan way as possible, and how they connect with the American people, each of them in their own way. So I would… I could list you 25 but I won’t because the field has been winnowing, but every one of them who has put his or her name forward has been a positive force in the campaign.
Speaker 3: (12:11)
Do you think he has a good chance of beating the president? Do you think he has the best chance of beating the president?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:13)
I’m not showing politics here. Let me just say this, thank you for the opportunity. I hear you all say, “Oh, we’re all in a panic, the established Democrats,” I’m going, “Is there some establishment that I don’t know about around here?” Who are we talking about here? Because we respect the process, the people will winnow the field, members will make their endorsements as they see fit on their own, in their own communications with their constituents, and with the candidates as they choose. So we’re calm, cool and collected. This is not, I mean, just because some people may be speaking out about not liking one candidate or another, that’s the democratic way. That’s politics. It’s a messy business. I remind you of how it was when the Republicans had their primary in the last election four years ago, how messy that was. But this is, we’re calm, we’re cool, we’re collected, we have faith in the American people, and we’ll be guided by their judgment as we go forward. But maybe it sells papers or gets viewers, but it isn’t the fact. Yes.
Speaker 3: (13:28)
You said the attorney general lied to Congress.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:28)
He did. Yes he did.
Speaker 3: (13:30)
Why should the House not move forward on impeachment proceedings against the attorney general?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:37)
Our priority was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The president gave us no choice in his actions in violating the separation of power that is contained in the Constitution, and that is our goal. So, and again, there’s so much malfeasance on the part of the people in the executive branch right now, but the fact is our responsibility is to honor our oath of office to protect and defend. But we can point out the disrespect that the attorney general has for the rule of law for lying to Congress, and that is really very bad and it’s not a good thing. I mean it’s lying to the American people. It is lying to the American people under oath.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:27)
But our priorities are to do our job for the American people, to lower healthcare costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We passed that bill. We hope that, we worked with the administration to put it together, we hope they don’t abandon it as they seem to have, I guess at the behest of pharma. We’ve worked, we said that we wanted to build the infrastructure of America, increase paychecks, the president said throughout the campaign that he was going to build infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure, when it came to prescription drugs, he was going to negotiate like crazy, like crazy, like crazy, and appears that like crazy might mean not at all.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:05)
And again, cleaner government, which we want to do with the lowering the impact of big dark money in politics ending under John Lewis’ bill, which is part of H.R.-1 to end the voter suppression and again pass the Voting Rights Act, which is part of that, but we’ve taken out of that. So that’s what we’re doing and our responsibility is to protect and defend. That’s what we did, and I’m very proud of our managers, they presented the facts. I’m proud of the courage of our members, they reviewed the facts, they studied the constitution, they made their own decision. And I’m proud of the Senate that they had a unanimous vote in favor of the truth. And just so respectful of the decision that Senator Romney made. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to spend all of our time going after every lie that the administration henchmen make to Congress of United States. Yes, Chad.
So the Senate today is going to vote on this-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:07)
… war powers of measure, this a measure that was a little different here in the House-
Nancy Pelosi: (16:07)
… a month ago though. From your perspective when it comes to war powers, why does this not defend on the president, again, that’s the argument that some make, that he needs to have that agility. There’s questions about these old AUMFs, but those were opposed to what’s going on in the Senate today, say that this undercuts what we’re trying to do in the Middle East, it undercuts what we’re trying to do in Iran ties us [crosstalk 00:16:32].
Nancy Pelosi: (16:33)
Well look, power to declare a war is in the Constitution, a power of the Congress of the United States. The president has considerable power as well. The War Powers Act addresses a calibration of the balance between the two, and this is a very long discussion and something I’ve been involved in for the last almost 20 years, at first as ranking on intelligence and now in my position here, so I think that they are going to have a bipartisan vote in the Senate. I know that. I think that the legislation is good. It’s a little different from ours, but we will take it up when we return in the next work period.
Speaker 3: (17:16)
Fundamentally this is a shoving match between the Congress and the administration with war powers, which is always the Republican. Why does this not tie the president’s hands if-
Nancy Pelosi: (17:25)
There are plenty of waivers for the present in terms of our national security and the, oh wait, I mean I got to go to the floor because we had the RA, we can have a whole discussion on this. The War Powers Act is something that we respect, and we would hope that the president of the United States would respect it too. In times of our attack, any and all powers vested in the president of the United States if you read the War Powers Act. It triggers, I don’t like that word, any and all powers on the part of the commander in chief. What we’re saying is in terms of other decisions that the president makes, that Congress has a role to play in that, according to the Constitution of the United States. So I’m glad that we’ll have bipartisan support for recognizing Congress’s role in all of this. And again, our first responsibility is to protect and defend, and we’re going to do that, but we want to do it in a way that does not eliminate the power of declaring war from the Congress of the United States. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to go to the floor. I don’t always vote, rarely do I vote unless to break a tie. We haven’t had any, but nonetheless, that would be what I would do. But today for my children, my daughters, my granddaughter, actually for my son and my grandsons, for women across America, I welcome the opportunity to cast a vote that will discrimination on the basis of sex in our Constitution. Thank you.