Jan 7, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference on Capitol Riot, 25th Amendment Transcript January 7
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on January 7. She said “the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America” and called on VP Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment. She said that if the 25th amendment is not invoked, then “the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.” Read the transcript of her speech here.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (00:02)
Good afternoon. I don’t know if the word good is a way to describe it, because yesterday, the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America, the gleeful desecration of the US Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy, and the violence targeting Congress are horrors that will forever stay in our nation’s history, instigated by the President of the United States. That’s why it’s a such a thing. In calling for this seditious act, the President has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic Leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this President by immediately invoking the 25th amendment. If the Vice President of cabinet do not add, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus. And the American people, by the way.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (01:16)
Justice will be done to those who carried out these acts, which were acts of sedition and acts of cowardice. To those whose purpose was to deter our responsibility, you have failed. You did not divert the Congress from our solemn constitutional purpose to validate the overwhelming election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States. Despite the desecration of our Capitol, we upheld and in front of the country and the world the bedrock principle that the people are sovereign and that they hold the power to choose their leaders through the ballot, rejecting this attempted coup on the part of President Trump and his supporters.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (02:07)
Accountability is also needed for Republicans in Congress who promoted the extreme conspiracy theories that provoked the violence, encouraged the mob, and who, after desecration of the Capitol, went back to the House floor and continued to push the falsehoods that underpinned this assault on our democracy. These Republicans advocated their oath of office that was taken just three days prior to protect the American people and to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (02:42)
The House worked through the evening and into the morning to nearly 4:00 AM to validate the electoral count, again, proclaiming Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the duly elected President and Vice President of the United States. I just want to say how proud I am of my members. For a while now, our four scholars we call them, Jamie Raskin, [inaudible 00:00:03:07], the Chair of the Committee of Jurisdiction, Adam Schiff, and Joe Neguse set forth a plan that was about the Constitution. It wasn’t about Donald Trump and all the reasons he shouldn’t be President. He was not part of this. It was about the constitution and how we have to, we are a country of law. We are not a monarchy with a King, as Jamie has said over and over again.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (03:41)
I want to also thank the members of the Arizona delegation led by Raul Grijalva and the Pennsylvania delegation led by Mike Doyle, the two deans, for the presentations that they made to refute the ridiculous statements being made by our colleagues. For what reason, I don’t know. But it wasn’t about reason. So I thank them for them.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (04:11)
And so all of this this week, our swearing in on Sunday, passing our rule and preparing for Wednesday as the week began, the election of two Democrats in Georgia because of the overwhelming participation of people at the grassroots level. So many people, I’m so proud of our House members. Congresswoman Williams, the chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, Lucy McBath, the newly elected Carolyn Bourdeaux, David Scott, Mr. Bishop, who was the dean of that delegation, and Hank Johnson. They had their plan already, should they have objected to Georgia, as did Nevada, as did Michigan, as did Wisconsin. So we were prepared. Members worked hard about defending the Constitution, honoring our purpose to count and ascertain the electoral college numbers for the presidency. So I was proud of them.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (05:24)
And I did over and over again … Very pleased now that we have in 13 days, President Joe Biden, a democratic House majority, and a Democratic Senate majority that will work to heal, to heal and restore the soul of our nation. I will close by evoking, as I did last night, the song St. Francis, our patron saint in San Francisco, whose song of Saint Francis is our city’s anthem. Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may we bring light. Where there is hatred, love, despair, hope. The list goes on. And so does the time for healing. Take us down a path of unity for our country. With that, I’ll be pleased to take any questions.
Speaker Pelosi, would you encourage cabinet members not to resign so that they can invoke the 25th amendment?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (06:23)
No, but let’s go over that list. Why wouldn’t say … If you remember the cabinet, a secretary in the cabinet, you’re in the line of succession to the presidency. President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, Senate Leader, [inaudible 00:06:45], and then Secretary of State. Just for information of some, when you have the 25th amendment invoked, that would be calling upon the Vice President, as we hope to do, to take the lead, and with the majority of the cabinet, to be able to unseat the President of the United States, a very dangerous person who should not continue in office. This is urgent. This is emergency of the highest magnitude.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (07:29)
So you’re Pompeo, the Secretary of State. Do you stand by this President dangerously staying in office? Secretary of the Treasury, Mnuchin. What is it? Is it about success in business later? Do you believe in this? Do we have the list? I know it because I know it. The way it goes is [inaudible 00:08:00]. That’s a mnemonic. Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, the acting Secretary of Defense. I don’t know what authority he may have, but he certainly has to answer for where the National Guard was yesterday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (08:17)
Then Attorney General. Attorney General Barr, do you subscribe to the presidency of Donald Trump after the act of sedition he committed yesterday? It’s next Postmaster General, but that’s when our founders put it together. Interior. The list goes on. Ask each member of the cabinet, do they stand by these actions? Are they ready to say in the next 13 days this dangerous man can do further harm to our country and assault on our democracy on the first branch of government? Rosen we spoke to yesterday, why would he not? Why would he not, as the acting AG, as the acting AG, say this is wrong.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (09:24)
There are some courageous Republicans who are speaking out. I salute Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen and others defense secretaries who’ve signed the letter, even before yesterday, about what is going on and the White House and how that is not a good thing for our country. And the message that it sent to the world, a complete tool of Putin this president is. Putin’s goal was to diminish the view of democracy in the world. That’s what he has been about. And again, his enabler has been Donald Trump for a long time. That’s why I said in that photo when I’m leaving his meeting, “With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.” Putin wants to undermine democracy. That’s what he’s about, domestically and internationally. And the President gave him the biggest of all of his many gifts to Putin, the biggest gift yesterday. My friends, we are in a very difficult place in our country as long as Donald Trump still sits in the White House.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (10:39)
You said you may be forced to pursue impeachment. Under what circumstances would you do that and how long would you give this 25th amendment process to play out before going down that road?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (10:50)
Well, it’s a simple matter. In terms of the Constitution, the Vice President, working with the cabinet, more than 50% of the cabinet, can immediately, can immediately improve the security of our country. If that doesn’t happen, Jamie Raskin has passed legislation that enables another step in the 25th amendment process. The 25th amendment processes, when it is determined that the President is unfit for whatever reason to be President of the United States, in case some people don’t know what that is. And he clearly has indicated that over and over again. And by inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed from office. While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (11:53)
So the next step would be that Congress, and this can be done quickly, can establish a commission very fast of maybe former Presidents, cabinet, people who’d know something about health, the health of the President and the rest. And that group can make its recommendations to the Congress. List goes on. Having said that, the best route, the most immediate route would be the Vice President to recognize the danger of the Donald Trump presidency and take this action.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:32)
B, my members are very much interested, as my phone is exploding with impeach, impeach, impeach. The President must be held accountable again. He likes- [crosstalk 00:00:12:47].
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (12:48)
We would be prepared to do that, but I don’t have immediate plans because we haven’t even been to asleep since the folly of the Republicans deciding we should go until 4:00 in the morning for no purpose whatsoever, except to be enablers of the President’s sedition by undermining the elections. Imagine that. The President of the United States undermining the elections in our country. So in any event, we would be prepared.
How long are you willing to give Pence? 24 hours? 48 hours?
Just how realistic is this timeline?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:28)
I don’t know how quickly he might respond. We’ll see. And that could be quick.
You said there’s great urgency. The clock is clearly taking. There’s 13 days.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:36)
How long are you willing to give the cabinet and Pence until they make a decision before you will start your own procedures?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:42)
I don’t think that it’ll take long to get an answer from the Vice President. It will either be yes or it will be no, and we’ll see. But we want to make sure-
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:53)
Today? You expect an answer today?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (13:54)
We would hope. We would hope. Mr. Schumer, the new Majority Leader of the Senate and I have made our interest in this known. So we’ll see what they come back with. But they have to answer for it. And then answering for whether they’re prepared to do that, they are answering for the behavior of Donald Trump. [crosstalk 00:14:20]
[crosstalk 00:14:20] The security breaches here, Chuck Schumer’s talking about firing the Sergeant at Arms over there. Are you thinking of a similar step over here? What are you going to do to address the security breaches on the Capitol?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (14:31)
Well, let me just say that that is a very important question. Let me hold for a moment because we have to do the after action review. I am calling for the resignation of the Chief of the Capitol Police, Mr. Sund. And I have received notice from Mr. Irving that he will be submitting his resignation. Having said that, we’ll have the after action review, but it goes beyond the Capitol police. It goes to the FBI. What was the shortcoming in their intelligence that they provided? It goes to the Department of Defense. How long did it take for them to respond or anticipate the need for the National Guard? It goes to many other elements of the executive branch. And I think we have to have a full review.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (15:25)
Let me just say this. Many of our Capitol police just acted so bravely and with such concern for the staff, for the members, for the Capitol, for the Capitol of the United States. Many of the men, and they deserve our gratitude. But there was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol police. And I think Mr. Sund … He hasn’t even called us since this happened. So I had made it aware that I would be saying that we’re calling for his resignation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (15:59)
Now, in that score, getting back to what was underestimated, that the President of the United States would not be as inciteful. Perhaps somebody thought for a moment that he would be patriotic before he leaves office for just this once. So again, the fact that these people were incited … And you know what? Last night, I don’t know if you heard on the floor, but some of the Republicans and their enabling of the President’s bad behavior have said those were not Trumpites, they were Antifa invading the Capitol disguised as Trumpites, right? So we have a problem here with the enabling that is going on with the Republicans in the Congress as well, undermining the election again, enabling the President. And if they don’t recognize what yesterday was, a threshold was crossed of such magnitude that there is no way that this President should be allowed to make any decision, to rouse any troops of his Trumpite. What’s next? What happens today? Who knows? But what we do know that he must be contained. Any other questions? Yes [crosstalk 00:17:26]-
So I wanted to ask. For the inauguration, what are your plans? How are those changing? and how do you plan to keep members and people in the Capitol secure at that time?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (17:36)
Well, I go back to my original point. We have 13 days more of Donald Trump to deal with who is a danger to our country. So when we talk about the inauguration, that is a national security event. And that rises to a different level of security protection. We want every day at the Capitol to be deemed a national security event so that there’s no, “Well, I didn’t know.” That highest level of concern, intelligence seeking redundancy, if necessary, to protect.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (18:19)
We’ve been working a long time on the inauguration. And just in terms of coronavirus, another shortcoming of the President, people have died because of his denial, distortion and the rest, calling it a hoax. This man is deadly to our democracy and to our people. But to your point, so because of coronavirus in our meetings on the inauguration, as far as we have jurisdiction in the Congress, but then it becomes the purview of the presidential now designee, Joe Biden. But to the point that we had that decision was encouraged to just have a very small inauguration. I don’t know what is in the public domain on it. I’m not going to put that out there, except that it would be very small and hopefully have a celebration at some later time when we’re not coronavirus [inaudible 00:19:26].
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (19:26)
Now on top of that, to see what happened yesterday, if there’s any, I don’t want to use the word benefit because nothing could justify, but if there’s anything learned about it is that we have to be very, very careful because these people and their leader, Donald Trump, do not care about the security of people. They don’t care about our democracy. They don’t care about the peaceful transfer of power. Something’s very, very wrong here.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (19:59)
Now, let me just say one more thing about what he did yesterday and relating to other national security events. People all throughout the world, something that looked like it was out of a banana republic or some other kind of a third world where the President of the country turned on the people, turned on the people. And what was sad about it is of course, as members of Congress, we sign up, we sign up for the exposure that we have. But to see in the eyes of so many of the staff people, especially the younger ones, the trauma, the fright that it was for them to be locked into rooms with terrorists banging on the doors, hiding under desks, under tables and the rest of that. They didn’t sign up for that. We didn’t sign them up for that. A blessing to be interested in public service, to learn from it here, perhaps to go on into public service, but to carry that important value into whatever they do in life.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (21:17)
But to see, to meet with them and to see how frightened they were, how traumatized they were because these thugs, these Trump thugs decided that they would desecrate the Capitol with no thought of what harm they might do physically, psychologically, or in any other way. And they will be prosecuted. And they will be prosecuted. Justice will be done.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (21:46)
So in terms of the inauguration, I don’t know if it could be made any smaller, but I don’t trust whatever the President might have in mind, because I think he’s a very dangerous man. So again, we’ll review what our options are in terms of the 25th amendment, review what our options are. If he wants to be unique and be doubly impeached, that’s kind of up to him and his cabinet as to whether he should stay in office, impeached, defeated, impeached, gone. And it’s really a sad tragedy for our country. I say I pray for the President every day and I do. Last night was the hardest day for me, like 5:00 in the morning when I finally got home as I was praying at night, I said, “You got to keep praying for me. You got to keep praying for maybe, maybe there’s some hope.” But we can’t take that chance because people’s lives are at stake as well as our democracy. That’s it for now. Thank you.
And Speaker, is the President welcome at the inauguration? Do you want him to come?