Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference Today
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Leader Pelosi. Good morning.
This week the President announced his Supreme Court nominee, who will seek to reverse generations of progress for Americans' health care and for Roe v. Wade.
Judge [Brett] Kavanaugh's comments make abundantly clear that he will expansively rule against women's reproductive rights and freedoms and move to destroy Roe v. Wade. A speech praising [Chief Justice William] Rehnquist for his dissent – he gave a speech, not probably well-known but praising Chief Justice Rehnquist for his dissent in Roe v. Wade.
Again, you all know he ruled against a young undocumented woman's right to choose.
And, again, those two issues, I think, have such an impact on people's personal lives that are imminently in danger, the Roe v. Wade and health care. But in addition to that, the over-arching concern about the separation of powers, checks and balances, his kowtowing to the President, effectively saying that the President is above the law.
The President has said, we will repeal Roe v. Wade. It ‘will happen automatically.’ So we know what this is about. And it is a very dangerous, dangerous prospect.
So hopefully, the American people will make their voices heard to the Senate.
The [nominee] has given every indication that he would be receptive to the Republican campaign to destroy the health care law of the land, shattering protections, pre-existing conditions protections for over 130 million Americans and their families.
Judge Kavanaugh's belief in vast presidential authority suggests he believes, again, that the President is above the law.
Democrats in the House and Senate will continue to drive home what's at stake in the Supreme Court battle in the personal lives of Americans.
This week, the Republicans are saying that Americans are better off because of their House Republican policies, but it is only the well-off who are better off from the GOP's special interest agenda.
The American people aren't better off from their flat real wages, as CEOs and shareholders hoard their tax scam with windfalls and deny workers the bigger paychecks they deserve and by some, promised.
Families aren't better off from the staggering debt burden on our children's future from the GOP tax scam for the rich that added up to $2 trillion or more to the national debt, endangering, as they did with their follow up budget, cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security disability benefits. Very clear, they've endangered Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits because they have a big debt that was incurred by the tax scam.
And families are not better off from the GOP's cruel, the cruelty of their health sabotage to drive up health insurance premiums while handing massive tax breaks to pharma companies hiking prescription drug prices.
What a joke. The President said he was going to move for negotiation, ‘I'm going to negotiate like crazy.’ And what did he do but give them license to continue, do some little anecdotal things. And don't take it from me. Their stock prices went up as soon as he was finished with his statement.
In the courts and in the Congress and in the administration, Republicans are stacking the deck for their wealthy donors and special interests at the expense of the health and economic security of hard-working Americans.
For eighteen months, Americans have seen whose priorities really matter to Republicans in control of Congress, and it is not the priorities of consumers, children, seniors, families, middle class and those who aspire to it.
Families across America are getting a raw deal from the Republicans. Democrats are proposing A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future.
Yes, Chad [Pergram].
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Q: How are you?
Leader Pelosi. Okay.
Q: As we speak, there's this hearing on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees with Peter Strzok. Now, we had a situation yesterday where Lisa Page had been subpoenaed, and she did not adhere to that subpoena.
Obviously, you probably don't agree with how the Republicans are approaching this. But that said, when a Committee in the House of Representatives issues a subpoena, the expectation is that it should be complied with.
Do you think that if there isn't action taken against her that, that puts the House as an institution in a bad place if witnesses who have been subpoenaed are not appearing before Committees?
Leader Pelosi. I think that the Republicans in Congress have placed the House of Representatives in a very bad place with their behavior on the Floor of the House and in Committee.
Many of them are attorneys. You would think that they would know better than to bring a bill to the Floor of the House that calls upon the Justice Department to give them documents related to the Mueller investigation. Ridiculous. I think they're setting it up for a contempt of Congress resolution down the road.
So let's enlarge this issue. In this meeting that they're having in the Joint Committee, they didn't even have as of, like, 9 o'clock this morning, or 9:30 this morning, any Memorandum of Understanding about how this would be conducted.
Oversight Committee, Judiciary Committee, who's in charge? How do you go forward?
So this is slapdash. So I'm not going to talk about one subpoena or another. What I am going to say is I think that they should – different states have different rules about the decorum and the behavior of lawyers. I think some of them are putting themselves at risk in the votes that they are taking in the Congress on this subject.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the allegations against [Congressman] Jim Jordan. I'm sure you've been reading those.
One, I wanted to see what your response is to those allegations that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse at the time. And two, do you think Congress has any role into investigating?
Leader Pelosi. Well, it's heartbreaking, it's devastating for so many young people who have suffered for years with the emotional pain of all of this. It is very sad.
I commend those who have come forward and brought their personal pain into the public so that there can be an investigation, as there should be, and so that young people who play in sports can be protected. All sports. We've seen this across the board.
[Congressman] Jim Jordan had a duty to protect them. They say he failed. They, these people who are accusing, said he failed. Rather than deny and dismiss them, he should fully cooperate with the investigation. That's what I think he should do.
Q: Does Congress, do you think, have a role in doing their own?
Leader Pelosi. At some point. We'll just see how this goes forward.
I think the people who came forward thought that he would cooperate in the investigation. I don't think it came forward as a charge against him. It came forward as a statement of fact, which he is denying that he had any knowledge of.
He is a person who has always said everybody, oh, my gosh, you look at his record, ‘So and so should have known this, so and so should have known that, so and so should have known that.’ Well, many people say that he did know, and by his own standards he should have known.
Q: The U.S. was running a record trade deficit with China, $152 billion in the first five months of this year. Is that a problem for the United States?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I have been highlighting this issue and fighting China on the trade deficit for decades.
When I started my campaign on the fight on Most Favored Nation status for China about 20-some years ago, the trade deficit with the United States with China was $5 billion a year.
I thought that was such a huge amount of money that it would certainly enable us to use our leverage to free the prisoners arrested at Tiananmen Square, to stop the Chinese from proliferating missile technology in a dangerous way and, related to trade, to open their markets to our products, to address the intellectual property theft that they were engaged in.
People here, and the Democrats and Republicans alike, I put it at everybody doorsteps, fought they saying, ‘Oh, no, it's peaceful evolution, it's going to work itself out. Let it go.’ That was, say, 28 years ago, something like that. The trade deficit was $5 billion a year.
Now it is more than $5 billion a week. A week. And, yes, we have to address that. So that's unfair to American workers. On a basis of $500 billion to $125 billion, so 4:1, they have that ratio, 4:1, $500 billion of their products coming into our country, $125 billion of ours going to theirs.
I think the President has handled it incorrectly. He should have used our leverage to get advances for all of America's industry instead of empowering the Russian – excuse me, the Chinese in this case – instead of empowering the Chinese to hurt our industry, whether it is agriculture, whatever it happens to be.
And so when the President says, ‘I'm going to put X amount of tariffs on X amount of products,’ and the Chinese reciprocate with the same number, we say, ‘We're going to punish $100 billion of their products coming into the U.S.,’ and the Chinese say, ‘We're going to punish $100 billion of your products coming into [China]’ it's 20 percent of their products coming into the U.S., it's 80 percent of our products going into China.
It's just wrong. They've been empowered to hurt our industry instead of fighting for all of our industry.
So, I mean, this is a subject that I have – every day I have worked on the subject of China one way or another, whether it's violations of China and human rights, Tibet, Hong Kong, the rest; whether it's their proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which has enabled countries, including Iran, to have technologies they would not already have had.
And also on the intellectual property issue. The Chinese had demand and the lure of the Chinese market. People went there, the Chinese said, ‘You can manufacture here but we want your designs.’ Once they had the designs they said, ‘We don't need you anymore. We certainly don't need you for the Chinese market.’
So this is something that should have been done right instead of recklessly. It's unfortunate.
By the way, yesterday in the Capitol, on a bipartisan basis, we observed the 83rd birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And once again I said there we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights violations anywhere in the world if we're not willing to speak out against them in a country where there's a big commercial interest.
Q: Speaking of the Russians, you called for President Trump in his meeting with Russian President Putin on Monday to obtain, as you put it, ‘ironclad assurances and concrete steps towards a full cessation of Russian attacks on our democracy.’
Leader Pelosi. Yes.
Q: What specifically does that look like to you, and what specifically do you want the President to walk away from that meeting with?
Leader Pelosi. Something more than: ‘I asked him. He said, “No,” and that was that. I asked him if they did it. He said, “No,” and that's all I could do.’
Our intelligence community has, with high confidence, clearly said that the Russians interfered with our election. This is the sacred right to vote. This is the core of democracy. They have said that.
And in the time since they said it, January of last year, so almost 18 months ago, there hasn't been one hearing by one committee in the House of Representatives to address the Russian interference into our elections.
So, it's not just the President, it's the Republicans in the Congress who do not want to know the truth. So what the Leader, Leader Schumer, and I were saying to the President, we want some clarify. You read the statement.
If the President leaves the Putin meeting without ironclad assurances and concrete steps towards a full cessation of Russian attacks on our democracy this meeting will not only be a failure, it will be a great step backward for the future of the international order and global security. A successful meeting means really action now.
But all of the behavior of the President this week, as a continuation of his behavior before, begs the question that I have asked for 18 months: What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, politically, financially and personally?
Because there is no way to explain the disrespect that he's demonstrating for our NATO alliance, just the lack of understanding of the threat that Russia is, not only to our democratic process, but to undermining NATO, which is a core security alliance.
Q: What would make you happy leaving that meeting? Does Putin have to apologize?
Leader Pelosi. No, he has to stop doing what he's doing, and that's not what he's done, not only in our country, but in other countries.
What would make me happy? No, there's a long road to that as far as Russia is concerned. The invasion of Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine, the taking over of Crimea, the threat to NATO. The President's behavior, it's very, very curious. He castigates our friends and coddles our – really – opponent in all of this.
It's important I think to note on this subject that he stands there taking credit for the NATO countries increasing their defense spending, and in fact that happened under President Obama.
In fact, the Brussels Summit Declaration that just came out now, July 2018, recommits. It says, ‘We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defense Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024, planned capabilities, and contributions.’ Four consecutive years of really growth in non U.S. defense expenditures have occurred.
And so this has been happening. The President goes and says, ‘Da, da, da, da, and I take credit that you're doing this or that.’ Well, take credit if you want, but recognize the fact that this is happening, this is happening anyway.
They also talk about ‘Russia's aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance,’ the NATO alliance, ‘and are undermining Euro Atlantic security and the rules based international order.’ And when I say ‘they,’ I mean the NATO members, including the United States of America, signed this.
Staff. Last question.
Q: So if you're Speaker next year, would you see to it that Democrats have hearings on the question of what do the Russians have on Trump?
Leader Pelosi. I'm not talking about that. I'm just ready to win the election.
We are more committed to job creation, a bold infrastructure plan, to create good-paying jobs across America, protecting the Affordable Care Act, and addressing some dangers that the court might present on that score. And, again, strengthening, to build our infrastructure, build the human infrastructure of healthcare and education, build our democracy by reducing the role of money in politics. Those would be our priorities.
But I do think that this Congress, we would be – hopefully something will be done sooner – but, if not, we would certainly be looking into the Russian interference in our elections and to make sure that it does not happen again.
As we come out of the Fourth of July, energized by the courage, the commitment, the brilliance of our Founders, always remembering their guidance, I said it before I left and I say it again: ‘E pluribus unum.’ From many one.
They didn't know how many we would become or how different we would be from each other, but they knew we had to be one. And that's a responsibility we all have, to strive for unity and not dividing, unifying and not dividing our country.
So I feel very confident about how we proceed. I've been on the road and it's a pretty exciting time. But if people are concerned, as I say, we don't agonize, we organize. Just vote.
And however you vote, Democratic, Republican, or whatever it is, make sure that who you vote for knows what you stand for and what you care about. And overwhelmingly in this election people care about their financial security.
And part of financial security is their health security. So that's about Medicare, Medicaid. It's about the cost of prescription drugs. It's about health care premiums going up under the Trump proposals. And it's also about a woman's right to choose.
Thank you all very much.
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