Jan 15, 2021
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript Before Trump Trial & Biden Inauguration
Nancy Pelosi held a January 15 press conference before the Senate trial of President Donald Trump and the Biden inauguration next week. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
He said, “If you want peace work for justice.” The connection is very clear. Justice is called for as we address the act of insurrection that was perpetrated against the Capitol complex last week. Right now our managers are solemnly and prayerfully preparing for the trial, which they will take to the Senate. At the same time, we are in transition with a COVID relief package president elect Biden announced last night. He is delivering on what he said when he was elected. Help is on the way. His plan makes big, bold, urgent action building on some of our democratic initiatives and the less Congress, including an increase in direct payments to $2,000, vaccine distribution and testing support in a fair and equitable way, addressing the disparities in access. Additional aid for small businesses, funding for state and local governments to protect our heroes’ jobs. Extension of unemployment benefits, help for renters, for food insecure people, and for our children.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:28)
As the last jobs report of the Trump administration shows, the need could not be more urgent. Moody analytics says, this morning, they say that this package, the rescue and recovery package put forth by Joe Biden last night, this package will take us to full employment by 2021, one full year earlier than it would occur without it. 2021 versus 2022, one full year earlier. In just five days, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:17)
Following the attack last week on the Capitol complex, there’s been unprecedented mobilization of security in the Capitol. I want to express gratitude to our Capitol police, to the National Guard who are present here to protect our democracy. They have shown great courage. I’m very proud of them and I was honored to be able to extend gratitude to them in person on behalf of the Congress. We must subject this whole complex though, to scrutiny in light of what happened and the fact that the inauguration is coming. To that end, I have asked retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of security infrastructure, inter-agency processes and command and control. The general is a respected leader with experience dealing with crises. As a former vice director of operations, J three, with the joint chiefs of staff, his focus was military support to civilian authorities, military support to civilian authorities. And he has experience with the national capitol regions security.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:41)
House leadership has worked with General Honore, seeing up close and personal his excellent leadership at the time of Katrina, or particularly Mr. Clyburn was the head of our Katrina Task Force. So he and I and others know full well how fortunate we are that the general has accepted of is willing to do this. Members are moving forward with strong oversight from committees, of course, to have after action review. There is strong interest in the Congress and the 9/11 type commission and outside commission to conduct that after action review.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:22)
In the meantime, I’m very grateful to General Honore for taking on this responsibility. I find this to be a very emotional time. I said to the members were very passionate to our reaction to this assault on our democracy, on this temple to democracy. We’re very passionate about our reaction, but we must be very dispassionate and how we make decisions to go forward for security, security, security. As I see many of the film and the incitement of it all by the President of the United States, but as you see the film one figure … there was so many disgusting images. But one figure of a man in a shirt with Auschwitz on it, Auschwitz. Work equals freedom, Auschwitz.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:31)
In this January one year ago, I had the privilege of bringing a delegation in January to Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust in Israel, to join heads of state. I came as the head of this Congress, to observe the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. On the way to Israel I brought the delegation to Auschwitz in Birkenau. Probably one of the most transformative national security visits that we had made. All of our travel outside the countries are a matter of national security, and so was that. To see the dehumanizing of people that was perpetrated there was so, so overwhelming. To see this punk with that shirt on and his antisemitism that he has bragged about to be part of a white supremacist raid on this Capitol requires us to have an after action review to assign responsibility to those who were part of organizing it and incentivizing it.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:12)
In the meantime, we’re grateful to General Honore for making some recommendations to us and how we can keep our members safe, our staff safe. The people who make the building function, our custodians and the rest who had to clean up after this insurrectionist mob. But security, we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, our democracy, and that is what we will do. And we will protect all of those who are here to honor their oath of office. Questions? Yes ma’am?
Speaker 2: (07:53)
Thank you Madame Speaker. Can you tell us a couple of things on scheduling? Is there any update on when we might send the article of impeachment to the Senate, and secondly can you tell us how quickly the House might take President-Elect Joe Biden’s recovery package?
Nancy Pelosi: (08:14)
Well let me start with we’re very pleased with what the vice president put forth last night. I’m eagerly awaiting some of the particulars of the vaccine proposal that will come out this afternoon, because this is a matter of complete urgency. As the vice president said last night, this administration, the Trump administration, handled the distribution of the vaccine in a very disappointing way. He used stronger language. But now we have to move on and do it in the right way, and that will require resources, which will require legislation. How it will be done effectively, we’ll know more about. I had some idea about it because we’ve made suggestions in that regard. But I think that the message of last night and later today from the vice president will be a message of hope to encourage people to again, when they are, it’s appropriate for them to receive the vaccine to do so.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:20)
But as was said, as will be said, it’s not just about the vaccine. It’s about testing and distancing and all the rest as we go forward so that we can crush the virus, which is what we must do. Crush the virus so we can open our schools and our businesses, honor our heroes who are on the frontline of this, our healthcare workers, our police and fire, first responders, transportation, sanitation, food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers, and put money in the pockets of the American people so that the lives and the livelihood of American people are addressed.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:01)
So we’re hoping that we can work in a bipartisan way as we go forward. In terms of the timing of what as I mentioned … One week ago on January 6th, there was an act of insurrection perpetrated on the Capitol of the United States, incentivized by the President of the United States. One week later, Wednesday to Wednesday, that president was impeached in a bipartisan way by the House of Representatives. So urgent was the matter. They’re now working on taking this to trial and Wendy, you’ll be the first to know when we announce that we’re going over there. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 3: (10:53)
Madame Speaker, so a number of house Democrats, you’ve mentioned a couple of investigations that are going to be going on since January 6th. But a number of house Democrats have signed a letter to Sergeant [inaudible 00:11:03] Capitol Police, asking about, asking them to look into GOP members who may have brought tourists to the Capitol on January 5th. What would you like to be seen done in that investigation? Is there a timeline or any action that may be taken towards members who did bring public groups into the Capitol before January 6th?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:21)
When we’re talking about security, we have to talk about truth and trust. In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution. We must trust each other, respecting the people who sent us here. We must also have the truth. And that will be locked into. If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress and in terms of prosecution for that. Yes, sir?
Speaker 4: (12:16)
We all are seeing extraordinary security measures now in place here on the Capitol and really throughout much of the district. I’m just wondering your level of comfort about next week, the inauguration?
Nancy Pelosi: (12:29)
Let me just say, and thank you for the question. As a member of the JSEC, the committee that prepares the inauguration, for a long time now, weeks, it has been determined that we would have a very small inauguration because of COVID. That in order to have the distancing and the rest on the platform, and then some people down below, it would be necessary to limit it. I don’t know if they have publicly released the numbers so I won’t, but a very small number of people, tiny percentage of the people participated before. Most disappointing, because obviously we’re excited about nominating a new President of the United States. But not at the risk of people’s health and wellbeing and indeed their lives. So this is always going to be small. Now with the insurrection of last week, it is necessitated by security to have more security.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:33)
But it hasn’t changed the nature of the swearing in. I think it’s important for people to know that. This is not a concession to the terrorist. It is a recognition of the danger of COVID. So again, I’m in close touch, I will be again for the third time in two days, with the Secretary of the Army. I spoke with the head of the secret service last night. We all want to be sure that the requests that are made by the Capitol Police are being honored by those who are in a position to meet the needs. They, again, it depends on the intelligence and we’d have to have more security than the intelligence might warrant. I think in this case, redundancy may be necessary. Not too much, but enough. Yes sir? Yes sir?
Speaker 5: (14:39)
First off the Republicans are saying that as far as the metal detectors are concerned, that the danger on January 6th came from the outside, not the inside. And secondly, as far as the Speaker’s lobby is concerned, totally different issue, when can we expect that to be open for us, and will it be when the pandemic ends and when do you see that happening as far as the-
Nancy Pelosi: (15:00)
It won’t be one minute before it is safe to do so from a COVID and a security standpoint, or one minute later than that. Yes, sir?
Speaker 6: (15:11)
Madame Speaker, while Representative Ryan’s subcommittee will be investigating Capitol Police-
Nancy Pelosi: (15:16)
Speaker 6: (15:17)
While Representative Ryan’s subcommittee will be investigating the Capitol Police.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:21)
Oh, Ryan. Tim Ryan, yeah. The benefit of … the Legislative Branch of the Appropriations Committee, yes.
Speaker 6: (15:29)
At the bare minimum, what would you like to see in reforms of the U.S. Capitol Police, especially in light of allegations from members of the caucus of institutional racism within the police force, and also maybe even collusion in the insurrection. What reforms would you like to see?
Nancy Pelosi: (15:49)
Well, I think the investigation is central, that has to come first. But there will be an addition to Representative, Mr. Chairman Ryan’s Ledge Branch Committee, we have Homeland Security Committee. We have issues that relate to intelligence from judiciary and the Intelligence Committee. We have the Armed Services Committee. So there’ll be a full … the committees will be doing their oversight in many different ways. And of course, the Appropriations Committee and the Oversight Committee have overarching responsibility. But again, the investigation will tell us what we need to know to have truth, so that we can trust the system that we have here. And it’s so sad. Imagine 10 days ago, as I said, we really lost our innocence in this because we always prepare to protect and defend from all enemies foreign. But the Constitution also says, and domestic. And now we have to protect ourselves from enemies domestic. How close within? The investigation will let us know. That’s it. Goodnight.