May 20, 2020
Nancy Pelosi Press Conference Transcript May 20: Takes More Shots at Trump
Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today, in which she said Donald Trump, “comes in with doggy doo on his shoes and everybody who works with him has that on their shoes, too.” She defended her comments about his weight. Read the full transcript here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
We passed the HEROES Act. I’m so very, very proud of the substance of it. I have said that our chairs of the Committees of Jurisdiction were dazzling in how they’ve put together initiatives to meet the needs of the American people. And I’m proud of the courage of my members to support the legislation. I couldn’t have been more proud than to hear the debate on the floor when they talked about meeting the needs of the American people, while the other side was talking about, we should take a pause. Well, we don’t agree with that. We don’t take a pause because again, hunger doesn’t take a pause, losing your job doesn’t take a pause, paying your rent doesn’t take a pause. The list goes on.
Nancy Pelosi: (00:50)
Our legislation had three main pillars, all of which have been supported in a bipartisan way in one or the other of the previous COVID bipartisan legislation. First, honor our heroes. Our heroes, our heroes, our heroes. Our healthcare providers, our first responders, police, fire, emergency services, our sanitation workers, food providers. Our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. Transit workers, did I say? The list goes on. In many cases, these people are risking their lives to save other people’s lives and now they may lose their jobs. This support for state and local, tribal and territorial governments is about honoring our heroes by enabling them to keep their jobs, to help save lives, and very importantly, to meet the needs of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:45)
Secondly, we have opened our economy. Everybody wants to do that. There’s no question about that. And to do so, we have to have testing, tracing, treatment and isolation if necessary. And that is the science of it all. Let us go forth in a very healthy way in order to open our economy, which we all want to do.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:10)
Until we do, the third pillar addresses putting money in the pockets of the American people, whether it’s unemployment insurance, direct payments, helping with rental and mortgage issues. The issue I want to focus on this morning, hunger, the SNAP issue, food stamps and food security issues that Republicans seem not to want to support, and the like. Putting money in the pockets of American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:40)
There are a few issues that we could not resolve in previous legislation, but they will be addressed as we go forward. One is again, the SNAP issue, hunger in America. In the best of times is a challenge. In the worst of times, which hopefully there’s nothing that gets worse than this, we really need to feed the American people. The lines are long and communities to get to food banks, people who never thought they’d ever go to a food bank are now at the mercy of the food bank running out of food. In addition to which the food issue, the [F-Mat 00:00:03:21], the SNAP issue, the food stamps are in stimulus to the economy. More on that in a moment. We have the post office, we have food stamps, we have election assistance, and we have OSHA. All of the issues that I talked about relate to the good health and well-being of the American people. If there’s one word that is a common denominator, one aspect that is a common denominator of everything we’ve talked about, it’s about health. Our healthcare workers and all who were there to save the lives and keep the American people healthy, our testing, to open the economy is about health, the good health of the American people.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:10)
When we talk about the issues about putting money in the pockets of the American people, and some of that is about their housing and the food that they need access to and further Medicaid assistance, that is a part of all that. It all comes back down to one basic thing: If you ain’t got your health, you ain’t got nothing. My mother used to say that, but not in those words, much more lovely; more religiously, shall we say.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:42)
In any event, when they say, “Oh, the bill isn’t… ” Let me ask you this. As the speaker of the house, a woman, when I put forth the bill people say, “Oh, it’s not bipartisan.” But when the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell puts forth a bill out, they go, “Good first start.” And then we negotiate and we make it bipartisan. We did that with CARES one. He had a corporate trickle down. We turned it into a worker’s bubble up, worker’s first bubble up. He did that with his proposal on the interim PPP bill. We didn’t like it. It didn’t go far enough to lower income, underbanked communities. We came up with a bipartisan bill, but all of those were initiated by the leader in the Senate, Republican, putting forth his proposal.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:35)
I put my forth, “Oh my gosh.” Well, no, that’s the way it is in a negotiation. And by the way, as I said, all of the main issues in our bill, the three pillars are pillars who have strains in previous… Their provenance is into previous bipartisan legislation, so it’s nothing new there. Some of the areas we’ve had difficulty though, they have a resistance to feeding the hungry in our country, and that’s a fight that we will make. And we do believe that with the further public awareness of the need that we will be successful.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:13)
We do have a fight over funding for elections, vote by mail, which is a health issue. Vote by mail is a health issue, just as food is a health issue. We cannot have people going to places that are predictably dangerous to their health. And again, I think that 49 of the 50th, and we’re waiting for the 50th state, have asked for the funds that was in a previous bill to help with the vote by mail initiative.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:46)
OSHA, a standard for protection of workers and employers and customers, very important. And we hope that in light of everything that is happening now, the Republicans will see the light of the importance of having worker protection. Safety in the workplace, again, in the best of times is essential. In these times, absolutely a matter of life and death.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:14)
And then the post office. Do you know that last year, over a billion, more like a billion and quarter packages of medicine were mailed out to the American people? That 90% of veterans get their medicines through the mail? So much else as well to keep people in their homes and packages delivered at this very difficult time. That is a health issue as well.
Nancy Pelosi: (07:42)
With all of that, we’re very pleased at where we are. It’s lean, it’s disciplined, it’s focused on the health and well-being of the American people. It is a way to open up our economy based on science. A real path with a plan, a vision, goals, timetable, milestones, benchmarks, to get the job done, and all of this excellently done by our chairs of the committee. I couldn’t be prouder and we’re here to make the discussion.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:18)
And we invite… We have no lines drawn in the sand. Let us just proceed, as we proceeded, when they put their Republican-only plans forward. We didn’t even make a comment about that. Then it was open for debate. And I hope that that will be the case. Not because of anything here. This is the least important of it all, but because of the needs of the American people, their lives, their livelihood, and indeed the life of our democracy.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:49)
With that, it’d be pleased to take any questions. And I understand that Sarah Ferris of Politico is first up remotely, virtually? Are we coming? Should we go to-
Speaker 1: (09:12)
Go to the room first.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:14)
Okay, we’ll go to the room first.
Speaker 2: (09:15)
Madam Secretary, you talked about this being a negotiation. Has there been any movement from the other side to the negotiating table-
Nancy Pelosi: (09:22)
There will be.
Speaker 2: (09:24)
Nothing from the treasury secretary or the leader or anybody actually reaching out to you to have these discussions?
Nancy Pelosi: (09:29)
Well, we’ll see. I think public opinion will be very much our friend in all of this. You’ve heard me say over and over again, as Abraham Lincoln said, President Lincoln, “Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing.” And the public sentiment that is out there, the last few days I’ve been on the phone with the Conference of Mayors, the League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and their leadership and the rest. If you go to speaker.com-
Nancy Pelosi: (10:02)
If you go to speaker.com HEROES Act, you’ll see how so many cities, townships, counties and states across the country are saved by this. And they’re saved from not only the cost of the coronavirus to them, of outlays of funds to fight the virus, but the loss of revenue that universally, regardless of the amount of infection you may have in your community, everyone is suffering from loss of revenue. And so whether it’s that or the scientific support for testing, tracing, treating, et cetera or those who care about people having enough to eat or be able to pay their rent or to have money in the pockets of American people, which is a stimulus.
Speaker 3: (10:49)
Nancy Pelosi: (10:49)
Speaker 3: (10:51)
you’re putting a PTP fix on the floor next week-
Nancy Pelosi: (10:54)
Speaker 3: (10:55)
As I understand it. That seems to be only part of any of the rescue plans that the Republicans in the Senate really liked. Do you worry that by putting out on the floor separately, you might undermine your ability to negotiate on these other priorities that you have? Essentially, that’s the only thing that they really want to do anyway?
Nancy Pelosi: (11:09)
Well, I hope that that’s not the only thing they want to do. They represent states, they represent counties, they represent communities, townships, and the rest, and a good part of this legislation helps those in smaller towns across the country. So I would hope that they would not be ignoring the hunger needs of the American people, the medical needs of the American people, and of course, the public service that states and localities provide. No, I’m not worried about that, but it has a sense an urgency about it.
Nancy Pelosi: (11:41)
And I’m so proud of chair of the small business committee, she is a genius in terms of small business. Nydia Velazquez, chairwoman from New York, chair of the committee, long time either chair or ranking on the committee, and she gave us her say that we can proceed with this. And what it does is extend the time in which you can rehire people, extend the time what you pay back and also undo the 75 25, which was debilitating. And we concerned about the lack of transparency and how the administration is carrying some of this out. And we saw a quick fix on how we could make this work better. We couldn’t ignore that. Thank you, [Jared 00:00:12:31].
Nancy Pelosi: (12:32)
Yes, sir. Wait a minute, I’m going to see if my friend and then I’ll come back to you. Sarah, are we around? Sarah Ferris, Politico? Or should we go to… I see her. I see her there. The room? Is Susan ready? Okay. Excuse me, Susan Cornwell from Reuters? Oh, here. Let me see her there.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:09)
This is a new system that the press gallery has said that we should be using, so this is your people with this.
Speaker 4: (13:20)
Don’t put this on us.
Nancy Pelosi: (13:20)
Initially, I thought the Speaker had some say. When there’s a problem there, they’ll say it’s up to you. But when they want to do something new, it’s up to them. Shall we go? Please.
Speaker 5: (13:33)
The secretary of state said that he fired the inspector general of the state department and it should have been done when he recommended the firing. It should have been done a long time ago. Do you think he needs to testify before the House to explain the rationale behind his decision?
Nancy Pelosi: (13:51)
Well, I do think that what my understanding, of course this is all unfolding now, is that he would not testify is the word sit with the IG, which is standard fare. When IG isn’t looking into something of that the person being investigated or in charge of the whole operation would be subject to that questioning, friendly or otherwise, depending on the situation. He didn’t do that. I think it’s a reflection of the complete disregard for the truth of the Trump administration. As you know, there are four, at least four IGs that the president has dismissed late, the Friday night special, in the dark of night here it comes. And now some questioning about what he’s doing with the secretary of transportation, who’s been asked to do some investigation and it’s questionable in terms of how they’re shuffling that over there.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:52)
Inspector generals play an important part of the integrity of our country. It was passed after Watergate to make sure that there was a truth finder in terms of waste, fraud, abuse, and any other violations of the law in agencies of the government. That has been respected until now. And what this president is doing by undermining truth and a system for truth in our system, undermining our democracy. This is scandalous. Now, I don’t, again, this is unfolding with the secretary, one thing and another, the parties, the public expense that is… All that stuff, but I’m very concerned about the public policy aspect.
Nancy Pelosi: (15:42)
Congress passed a law about sales to Saudi Arabia, arm sales to Saudi Arabia. And in that department, they declared it fake emergency in order to initiate the sales and that may have been part of the investigation. That’s what I’m very concerned about because not only did they do something wrong in declaring an emergency that was a fake emergency, but they undermined the will of Congress and bipartisan. We had a bipartisan agreement on all of that. This remains to be seen. It’s unfolding before our very eyes.
Speaker 5: (16:26)
Why can’t he come up here and testify [inaudible 00:16:24]?
Nancy Pelosi: (16:26)
Well, he should come up and testify, but he should be coming up here to testify in general. And it’s very hard to get the administration to honor its responsibilities to the American people by testifying before Congress. As you see, they’ve sort of cut out the House all together, which is where all appropriations begin under the constitution of the United States. Again, let’s see how this unfolds. It’s in the last 24 hours or 36 hours that we’re seeing what this is, but what it is that we know so far is scandalous. Any of our friends, yet? Yes, sir.
Speaker 6: (17:11)
On a different topic and because he brought it up on Twitter again today, is it appropriate for the president to accuse [inaudible 00:17:19] of murder on Twitter?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:21)
I’m sorry, to do what?
Speaker 6: (17:21)
To accuse a TV host of murder on Twitter?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:24)
Speaker 6: (17:24)
This is Joe Scarborough.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:28)
What did he do?
Speaker 6: (17:29)
This is the Joe Scarborough issue. He tweeted last Tuesday that he wondered if he’d gotten away with murder. He retweeted this morning about psycho, he calls him psycho Joe.
Nancy Pelosi: (17:41)
We’re talking about Joe Scarborough?
Speaker 6: (17:43)
Yes. Is it appropriate for the president to do that on Twitter? Or to do that in general?
Nancy Pelosi: (17:47)
You’re asking me about the appropriateness of the actions of this president of the United States? So completely inappropriate in so many ways that it’s almost a given. It’s like a child who comes in with mud on their pants or something. That’s the way it is. They’re outside playing. That’s what it… He comes in with doggy doo on his shoes and everybody who works with him has that on their shoes, too, for a very long time to come. I don’t know. I hear doctors talk to me about saying, “What’s the matter with him?” The things he says are so inappropriate for a president of the United States. The comments he makes about women, comments he makes about women, so inappropriate. No, I don’t think it’s appropriate, but again, there’s a market for it, obviously. And that’s what he plays to. What is it, there’s a word somebody used to me. They said, you would understand it better if you knew what a conflabitor is, conflabulator?
Speaker 7: (18:52)
Nancy Pelosi: (18:54)
Confabulator is. look up the word confabulator. Somebody who just really doesn’t even know what the truth is and just says anything. And because he says it, then he believes it.
Nancy Pelosi: (19:05)
You know what, forget about him. This is about how we go forward to help save lives, save the livelihood of our people by saving our economy and how we prepare ourselves to go into the future in a very positive way. It’s just something that is in our midst that we have to deal with. And we would hope that the American people would see very clearly whatever they think of him, love him or not, love yourself, vote for your interests because if you’re a person who’s lost your job through no fault of your own, this HEREOS bill, this HEREOS Act, this bill’s for you. If you’re somebody who uncertain as to whether you’re going to be able to see your family, this bill’s for you. If you have uncertainty about the fear that you might contract or be infected by this virus or that you…
Nancy Pelosi: (20:03)
Trapped or be affected by this virus, or that you could carry it home to your children or to your parents, older parents, this bill’s for you. If you are a public employee working to save lives, a police officer, firefighter, transit worker, teacher, anybody in the public sector who meets the needs of the American people, your job is in doubt unless this bill passes. This bill is for you. So again, with all due respect to your question and all due respect to the Office of President, what’s important is where we can come together as we go forward, setting aside for a moment how we got here. But nonetheless diligent about how we humbly find our common ground to get the job done. As we have done in the past for bipartisan bills. Anybody? No? No? Okay. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 8: (21:11)
Given what you just said about the President and his administration, how are you confident that you are going to be able to come together? The two of you have been exchanging pretty strong criticism in the last few days. How does that help negotiating another deal?
Nancy Pelosi: (21:20)
Well, I didn’t say anything about the President. I gave him a dose of his own medicine. He’s called women one thing or another over time. And I thought he thinks that passes off as humor in certain cultures. And I thought that was what that was. And I was only quoting what doctors had said about him. So I was being factual in a very sympathetic way.
Nancy Pelosi: (21:43)
I said he’s our President. We don’t want our President taking something that could be dangerous, as the scientists have said it could be. If he takes offense at that, well, I could take offense at a lot of things. But they don’t really mean that much to me. But again, a dose of his own medicine. Yes, sir.
Speaker 9: (22:04)
What is the status of you and Leader McConnell choosing a chairman for the Congressional Oversight Commission? Some members say they can’t properly do their work without the Chairman and resources that-
Nancy Pelosi: (22:14)
Some members are saying that? That’s not the impression I have from them. I get a very confident impression from them that they have done their first report, the four of them working together. And it’s in the public domain already, as you probably have seen. But we are exchanging names and I’m optimistic and hopeful that we should be able to find someone that meets the test who’s not, shall we say, on the board of one thing or another as we go forward. Yes. Ma’am.
Speaker 10: (22:50)
I was just going to ask about that. But separately more broadly on the oversight issue, you brought up the number of IGs.
Nancy Pelosi: (22:56)
Speaker 10: (22:56)
It sounds like the acting IG at Transportation was also relieved of his job. I just wonder as the administration continues to stonewall your oversight efforts on the House side, what is your appetite for a subpoena fight or to get into a fight to compel the appearance of some officials like Secretary Pompeo?
Nancy Pelosi: (23:20)
Well, I think the case is very clear that the President is afraid of the truth. He and his administration are afraid of the truth. We must insist upon the truth and there’s the Congress, there’s the courts, and there’s the court of public opinion. And I think that from what I’m hearing from people all over the country, it’s amazing. The legal experts, the jurists, the academics, the former law enforcement and the rest, they think that this is so a bridge too far. Almost unlike some of what has gone before in terms of undermining our democracy. We are in court on subpoenas now in awaiting court decisions. But when the court is a court that is appointed by the person that you are seeking a subpoena on, you don’t know what the outcome may be. Prayerfully, that it would be to honor the beautiful genius of our Constitution, a system of checks and balances where we have separate but equal separation of power. One branch of government, a check on the other. But one or the other is appointed by … The third branch is appointed by the second branch. Then we’ll just have to see how that turns out.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:44)
One thing I do think that we should be able to do a future congress, and this would apply to Democratic or Republican Presidents, that’s not the point; is that I don’t believe that a President should be able to fire a public official who’s investigating him or her. If the Inspector General is on a path, then how on earth … Same thing with an Attorney General or others as well, a U.S. Attorney. If the focus is on the President, where is any justice in the system if that person can fire the person looking into it? And that’s why it’s curious about the IG of Defense, the IG at HHS for questioning how we were proceeding and fighting … The American people, some of this may be academic to them, but how we are fighting COVID-19.
Nancy Pelosi: (25:44)
And that IG relieved of responsibility, that hits home directly. And then of course now perhaps the State Department and maybe the Transportation Department. The list goes on. But anyway, we’ve got to just keep a clear path. What is our oath of office? What are we here to do? I do think that there is bipartisan commitment to our democracy, to our oath of office and to our protecting the American people and meeting their needs. And that’s what gives me confidence about how we go forward. And I don’t take offense at anything. The President says things about me all the time. I say one thing about him and it’s like, oh, some equivalence here. It’s so unimportant. Any other question or else … Anybody on the electronic … Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 11: (26:49)
Nancy Pelosi: (26:50)
Okay. We have then, everybody. Yeah. Thank you.
Speaker 12: (26:55)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. You just said that vote by mail is a health issue.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:00)
Speaker 12: (27:01)
It’s also a post office issue.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:02)
Speaker 12: (27:03)
So how is that front going?
Nancy Pelosi: (27:05)
Yes. Today I’m focusing on SNAP, on hunger. And when I write to my colleagues, it’s going to be about the urgency of our getting food to people. Yesterday I talked about the post office because that is really in jeopardy. As I mentioned, it’s a health issue. Over a billion packages of medicine last year. And that was before COVID. 90% of veterans get their medicine through the mail. 20% of the workforce in the post office are veterans. But these and other reasons, it’s of interest to veterans, their health, and their livelihood.
Nancy Pelosi: (27:49)
So it is essential if we’re going to have vote by mail, that we have a thriving post office. I think it’s important to note, since you asked, that the Board of Governors that governs the U.S. Postal System, 100% of it appointed by President Trump. 100% appointed by … Unanimously voted for three things as we go forward. One, a $25 billion infusion of appropriated funds largely related to COVID because of the challenges there. Loans, loan guarantees, with the Treasury Department without strings.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:37)
See, there was loan in one of the previous fields, but they had all these strings, which were the path to what the administration wants: privatization of the post office. But without going into that, this Bush-appointed bipartisan committee, $25 billion, no strings on the loan. And third, they wanted $25 billion for modernization of the post office because some things are really ancient there in terms of infrastructure, as well as transportation. That third one, we’re going to save for our infrastructure bill, which will be coming soon. But the first two we do have.
Nancy Pelosi: (29:16)
The first two recommendations of the Trump-appointed Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal System are in our legislation. They are directly related to the health of the American people, the health of their voting system, the census. So many of the things that are happening now as well as again, to keep people out of voting lines and people out of voting places, but voting more in a more healthy way from home. But the postal system, they do better than anybody. They have over 90, 92, 94, depending on the rating approval rating, in the country. So what we’re getting is a big support for the postal system.
Nancy Pelosi: (30:03)
… Support for the postal system, a small price to pay in a $3 trillion bill to facilitate all kinds of things, people buying things by mail now because of… on the internet and receiving them by the mail, the health issues, first and foremost, voting, census, the stimulus… the checks that have coming for the bill, some of them checks in the mail, all of it, stimulus to the economy. So viva, the postal system. I can’t get over the fact that they’re over 90% positive rating. I believe it because I’m a big… Almost any Saturday you’ll find me at the post office, trying to mail something to my grandchildren. So thank you all very much. I’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll be here, around the same time tomorrow? Yes. We have some other things to share with you tomorrow. Thank you so much.
Speaker 13: (31:00)
Thank you! [crosstalk 00:31:23]. [inaudible 00:31:36] (silence)