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Rep. Nancy Pelosi Speaks on Midterm Elections Results; Trump Congratulates Pelosi, Warns Against Oversight. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 7, 2018 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The classic suburban district with Independents, with women, who had in many elections before voted for Republicans, different kinds of Republicans, but were completely repulsed by the language, the tone and the tenor that they have been hearing from Washington, D.C. That is what brought Mike Coffman down. It is not the fact that Donald Trump didn't go out and campaign for him.

And, you know, he is understandably putting his spin on the results last night. And never mind that it was something that we've never seen before, put in a long unprecedented list of a president, you know, calling out and ripping on and warning Republicans in the future ,if you don't want me to come with you, look what's going to happen, you're going to lose. That flies in the face of what I saw on the ground in Colorado in one of those races.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I don't think -- I don't think he was applying actual political strategy to this at all. I think --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: No, it was all personal.

CHALIAN: It was all personal. I don't think he could argue that he would have made that race better. He would try perhaps. But it's all in the term, they did not embrace me. They could not embrace me.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: They couldn't. They couldn't.

CHALIAN: That's not a political -- he's not making a political calculus. It is that he is of the mind that he is the center of the political universe and that everything about it should revolve around him and everyone that wears his jersey should fully embrace him at all cost no matter what.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Even Democrats, I mean, the threat -- the very specific threats to Democrats, which is we can work together, we can do prescription drugs and do things for veterans and do things on health care, on infrastructure, we can do all that, and by the way, that will be very good for me politically, he said. To get into his political strategist hat. But then that very specific warning, which is, if they decide to investigate this White House, we don't cooperate because we cannot do both things.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANHOR: Which ignores -- which ignores as a document that conservatives often refer to, they keep it in the National Archives called the Constitution.

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hold on.

GREGORY: The House has authority to do those things.

TAPPER: Would be speaker-elect Pelosi. Let's listen in.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Leader Mitch McConnell went forth and really admitted that Medicare and Medicaid and some aspects of Social Security, disability benefits, were on the chopping block.

The president pulls his punch when it came time to lowering the cost of prescription drugs by enabling the secretary to negotiate for that. So this is very important.

That was For the People, lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure of America, integrity and government by reducing the vote with big dark money in the political session (ph). That was our agenda, our candidates ran with it. But healthcare, healthcare, healthcare in every household in America, this is an important issue. The man whose office I occupy now, Speaker Tip O'Neill, he said all politics is local, when it comes to healthcare, all politics is personal.

And so again, we made our own environment, and while the GOP tried relentlessly to distract and divide, our candidates kept their focus on that subject. And when I say our candidates, our candidates for reelection as well. Voters delivered a resounding verdict against congressional Republicans attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and people with pre-existing conditions in districts everywhere in America. They went in a new -- a new direction, a House that will -- now they want a new direction, a House that will work to make progress in the lives of American families and seniors.

Democrats pledge again, a new majority, our For the People agenda, lower healthcare costs, lower prescription drugs, bigger paychecks, building infrastructure, cleanup corruption to make America work for American people's interest, not for special interest.

Yesterday's election was not only a vote to protect America's Healthcare, it was a vote to restore the health of our democracy, the health of our democracy. Under the Constitution -- and I'm proud that the legislative branch is the (ph) Article I, for branch of government, the legislative branch.

Right after that beautiful preamble, stating our purpose, Article I, the legislative branch, there as a co-equal branch of the other branches of government and a check and balance in other branches of government. American people have put -- want to put an end to unchecked GOP control of Washington, restoring again, the checks and balances conditioned by our founders.

[13:35:00] That's a responsibility we have when we take that oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And we as Democrats are here to strengthen the institution in which we serve and not to have it be a rubber stamp for President Trump. House Democrats will honor our responsibility to the Constitution, as I said, have a concert (ph), how we will open -- how we will do things, we will open the Congress with the rule that will insist upon openness and transparency so that the American people can see the impact of public policy on their lives, putting an end to what the Republicans did with their tax scam in the dark of night and the speed of light, no hearings on the bill that would have trillions of dollars of impact on our economy. That's over.

We will strive in that openness with American people and our partners because they will see the impact of legislation on their lives. We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can. Where we cannot, we must stand our ground, but we must try; and so by openness and transparency, accountability, bipartisanship, a very important part of how we will go forward.

We believe that's a responsibility we have to honor the vision of our founders. They gave us in their declaration, a call for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How beautiful. They also gave us guidance on how to achieve that E Pluribus Unum from anyone.

They couldn't imagine how many we would become or how different we would be from each other, but they knew that we had to strive for oneness, recognizing that this is a marketplace of ideas. We have different views on the role of government and that's a healthy debate for the American people to witness and for us to have.

We do so with confidence in our values and our other proposals, but also with humility to listen and hear where others may have to say. And so that will be the kind of Congress that we have, one, again that honors the guidance of E Pluribus Unum.

Last night, I had a conversation with President Trump about how we could work together. One of the issues that came up was part of our For the People agenda, building infrastructure of America and I hope that we can achieve that. He talked about it during his campaign and really didn't come through with it in his first two years in office. But that issue has not been a partisan issue in the Congress of the United States.

Over the years, we've been able to work together regionally, across the aisle, across the Capitol and down Pennsylvania Avenue; I hope that we can do that because we want to create jobs from sea to shining sea. OK (ph), good paying jobs, whether it's (ph) about surface transportation, water systems.

My colleague Congresswoman Eshoo is here to champion on broadband, always on high-speed broadband across America and the digital ride (ph), especially into rural areas as well as urban areas and in schools, housing and the rest. Those jobs -- those initiatives will create good paying jobs, but also generate other economic growth in their region. So we hope that we can work in a bipartisan way in that way.

The other issue that we could hopefully work on is lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and that's something the president has talked about. We had it in our sixth (ph) row (ph) six (ph) 12 years ago when we won the House. Five of those six became law, one we couldn't get 60 votes in the Senate for was enabling the secretary to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. We hope to get that done now because that is a big impact on America's families' budget.

And then the third, really (inaudible) issue for us is integrity in government to reduce the role of dark, special interest money. And I commend all of our candidates for their commitment to the healthcare agenda, to their paycheck (ph) agenda and also to the good government agenda. They have written letters saying that they want H.R. 1, which is our better deal for America's Democracy to be something they vote on, but I say to them when you come here, you will have an impact on what that legislation is.

You may want to make some changes -- additions or some tweaking but nonetheless our newcomers will be part of putting together how the agenda goes forward. And we look forward to that integration of the Congress. I also spoke to Mitch McConnell this -- Leader McConnell this morning as to how we could work together especially on infrastructure.

[13:40:00] I did receive a call of congratulations from Speaker Ryan and I welcomed that and we discussed how it is to win and how it is not to win (inaudible). In any event the concern that he was expressing was about for some of his colleagues who would no longer be serving. On that point I want to make a couple -- I want to say something because in winning this election, I don't think we were on the right side of history, on the right side of the future, this is where we have to go but when we talk about the challenges that we face, we had to jump over gerrymandered minds all over the country.

So when we talk about our success, it's about the grass roots operation owning the ground. All of these groups that care about healthcare, many of them out there to help elect people who share their value about lowering healthcare costs, moving lifetime caps, even annual caps on insurance coverage and certainly restoring the benefit of preexisting conditions, not being a barrier to coverage.

Most importantly though, the quality of our candidates. They're spectacular from every walk of life and some of them from a couple different walks of life, and when they come here they'll bring their experience, their knowledge, and especially their values to the Congress. We look forward to that.

This is no easy seat to win this election. I hear the president attributing to this, that and the other thing, but when you think of how gerrymandered the country is, how we hope to change that, but nonetheless how we were able to succeed in this election, is a tribute again to the quality of our candidates, the determination of our grassroots folks across the country and the values that we share with the American people.

In terms of working with the president, I just I would say that I worked very productively with President Bush when we had the majority and he had the presidency. We passed one of the biggest energy bills in the history of our country. We passed one of the biggest tax bills in terms of stimulus for low income people as well as no income people in his presidency and the list goes on.

PEPFAR, he wanted PEPFAR, we won it big and there were so many issues that we worked together and vehemently opposed him on the war in Iraq. But the point is ,is that we worked together. The president said I'll wait for them to send me something. Well we had ideas and we can send him something. but the fact is, is we like to work together so our legislation will be bipartisan. We're not going for the lowest common denominator. We're going for the boldest common denominator.

Our position will be a consensus within our own party of what we can support but also welcoming other ideas. So we look forward to a new -- kind of a new era in terms of what has happened. These past two years just seem like a very, very long time in terms of the path that it's taken us down. And I think of our founders and their courage, their vision, what they had in mind for us, E Pluribus Unum from anyone, when I think of the American people and how beautifully diverse we are and how newcomers to our country have constantly reinvigorated America.

When I think of our beautiful planet and of course our own country, God's gift to us and how it has been neglected and degraded in this past couple of years, I think that there's plenty of opportunity for us to match our legislation with the rhetoric that we are hearing.

It might surprise you to know that the president I quoted the most on the campaign trail, who would you think? Ronald Reagan. I'll just -- I won't read you the whole quote, but I'll read you just one paragraph.

Ronald Reagan said, "this is the last speech that I will make as President of the United States and I want to -- it's fitting to me one final thought. an observation about a country which I love," Last speech, that's quite a headliner, right? Your business, Ronald Reagan's last speech. He says, "thanks to each new wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation." It goes on to say, "if we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost." If we ever close the door, our leadership would soon be lost.

[13:45:00] So in that, out of (ph) respect for the vision of our founders, the diversity of our country, the beauty of our land, the values in our Constitution first and foremost, we think there's an opportunity to work together. One sign of good faith on the part of the president to work together prefer (ph) present to withdraw their assault on preexisting conditions benefits which the Republican attorneys general across the country have put forth and which this administration had said they won't define the law of the land, they'll join in that lawsuit. That's just wrong. That's just wrong. So we think again, as a sign of good faith and in keeping with what they're saying on the campaign trail, prove it. Withdraw the lawsuit. So that will be one place that we could start.

In any event, next week we look forward to welcoming our new class of freshmen. We will celebrate their diversity, the freshness of their thinking and the rest and they will immediately be incorporated into our building of consensus on how we go forward in a very open transparent, bipartisan, unifying Congress. Any questions?

Yes sir, because I didn't get to you last night.

QUESTION: The president warned at a press conference on Democratic investigations into the White House and Trump Administration, he said that the whole of (ph) government, he also said that his tax returns would be released necessarily because he's under a continuous audit. So my question is, are you concerned about the Democratic over reach in any way in your investigations? And two, how far are you willing to take a push to get the president's tax returns in this new Democratic majority?

PELOSI: The president also said this was a good day for Republicans, so let's put that in perspective as well. The -- we have a Constitutional responsibility to have oversight. That's the balance of power. I'm an appropriator. That's one of the places I was forged in the Congress on the Appropriations Committee as well as on the Intelligence Committee. Both places were -- the hallmarks were bipartisanship -- nothing we were always left for our own devices to find our solutions. That of course had changed when the poison (ph) pills (ph) rang down from on (ph) high (ph).

But in appropriations and all -- in many of the other -- all of the other committees, we have a responsibility to -- for oversight.

And hopefully -- and we of course have -- asking for information, we can just make the request and the information will come in. We're concerned about what's happening at EPA, for example, to degrading the air we breathe and the water we drink, despite what the president said to date.

So that's one -- on one example. I don't think we'll have any scattershot freelancing in terms of this, we will have a responsibility to honor our oversight responsibilities, and that's the path that we will go down. We're again, in trying to unify our country.

QUESTION: How far will you go to try to get those tax returns?

PELOSI: That -- that's -- look, when our committees -- I'm a big believer in the committee system, always have been; our committees who make their decisions and make the recommendations to the caucus. But you can be sure of one thing, when we go down any of these paths, we'll know what we're doing and we'll do it right.

QUESTION: There's going to be an historic number of women in Congress, 100 of them. I want to know, how are they going to change the institution, and also, with you and your leadership team staying at the top, how are they going to have room to advance?

PELOSI: Well I have always advanced members into the leadership. They have to decide they want to run. Many people like making their mark in their committees, and that's a decision they have to make.

But to your first part of your question, what I -- some people have said to me -- and I appreciate your question -- some people said to me now that we have more women coming in, will we have more emphasis on things like childcare and this or that?

We have a big emphasis on that, and we need to make it stronger in the majority, but that's across the board in our -- in our caucus. I don't want women only to -- as important as that is, and it's vitally important to women's role in the workplace, I want women to not just be talking about those issues, because we view every issue as a woman's issue.

We believe in national security of our country as a woman's issue, economic security of our country -- national security, economic security, issues that relate to energy and the rest, they're women's issues.

[13:50:00] So when I -- what I have always tried to do with everyone here is to, if they're interested and try to -- and to be interested, is to have a security credential, whether it's on -- on services, intelligence, foreign affairs, veteran's affairs, Mr. Cummings' committee of government oversight, judiciary and (ph) fighting terrorism, all the -- to have a security credential.

I think this is very important for the face of security in our country, not to just be the men who have been doing it all along, with all due respect to their terrific leadership, but for women to take to men who have standing on those issues and many of our new members coming in have -- bring standing with them already -- some do, some do not.

I do think that on -- in terms of the economy and our committees, we have Maxine Waters at financial services, so there's a -- already a record of high leadership on issues that relate to the economic security of our country.

We have, I think, four new women members on the Ways and Means Committee in just this past year. Usually there'd be one, maybe one or two, but an infusion (ph) of four more new members. So again, in all of these issues, I want women to take ownership of what would be -- traditionally not how we (ph) visible (ph) roles for them.

And that's one of the ways that they will change the Congress. So that when people -- when the White House and the administration, whatever administration it is, has to report to leadership in the Congress at any level about the safety of our country, they'll be talking to the full diversity of our country -- our women, people of color, LGBTQ, and I think that's a very positive thing because people in the public world see who share their values, their experience, their concern, making decisions about the safety and security of our country.

QUESTION: ... many of the women that have been elected have said that they're not sure they can support you to be the speaker of the House. You were the first woman Speaker of the House. Are you confident that you are going to be the next Speaker of the House? What would you say to those women?

PELOSI: What do I say to those women? Congratulations on your election, welcome.

QUESTION: ... your pace to members as to why you should be speaker, you always talk about ...

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: Let me just say this in one sentence. I heard the president say I deserved to be the speaker, I don't think anybody deserves anything. It's not about what you have done, it's what you can do.

What you have done in the past speaks to your credentials, but it's about what you can do, and I think I'm the best person to go forward to unify, to negotiate and -- and -- I'm a good negotiator, anyone can see in terms of how we have won every negotiation so far.

The only one we didn't win was -- wasn't a negotiation -- it was the GOP tax scam, the dark of night and speed of light, as I said earlier. So I think that my case is about being best person for how we go forward, and I'm not going to answer any more questions on that subject.

We have important -- we saw something this morning that challenges the conscious of our country. We saw something this morning that shows a differentiation in respect for the diversity of our country. We have to try to bridge that gap, to bring people together and that I think I can do a good job at that.

But I'm not going to spend any -- I'd rather answer questions about policy and the rest, and this -- the record will speak for itself. Yes ma'am?

QUESTION: To follow up on what the president said this morning, he made clear that if Democrats launch investigations that any hopes for bipartisanship is off. Do you have any concerns that these investigations could jeopardize your opportunities to legislate?

PELOSI: We do not intend to abandon or relinquish our responsibility -- Article I, the first branch of government and our responsibilities for accountability, for oversight and the rest. This doesn't mean we go looking for a fight, but it means that if we see a need to go forward, we will.

But that will be the work of our committee. Every committee has oversight responsibility. Congressman Eshoo is on Energy and Commerce, and that's a big Oversight Committee as some of you probably are aware. But specifically to some of the concerns that the president may have -- the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Oversight Committee, the -- well there are a number of committees that -- depending on how we go down the path, Financial Services Committee -- did I say Intelligence?

Oh, Homeland Security Committee, because of -- of course, we are shamed as a nation by a policy that takes babies out of the arms of their mothers, that build tents and all the rest, to house people that they're -- their separation of families, so we want to look into that.

[13:55:00]

And we would hope that we could do so by simply having oversight. If in fact it requires a subpoena -- I hope not, but so be it.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow up on that? In hindsight, do you think it was a mistake for Democrats to stay silent on all the heated rhetoric from the president and some Republican senators? I mean the Republicans kept the control of the Senate and some of them ran on this anti-immigrant rhetoric.

So are you, in hindsight, you know, maybe thinking that that was a mistake for Democrats to stay silent?

PELOSI: No, I do not. I urge colleagues not to take the bait on what the president was putting out there. It's a very dangerous issue on the campaign trail because of the misrepresentation that are put out there.

You don't win a fight by fighting that same fight, you win by sticking with the program for the people, lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. That produced a big victory for us in spite of the gerrymandering that the Republicans have done.

I have no regret.

QUESTION: Leader McConnell is -- is pledging to, again, vote on the border wall and -- and border security funding that he claims Democrats pushed -- you pushed back on.

PELOSI: Well I'm sorry, I don't know -- I didn't watch his press conference. I don't know exactly what he said. But what I will say is this, one of the biggest resources that we have, when I say we, the American people, and we as representatives, is public sentiment.

You've heard me say, many of you again and again, Abraham Lincoln -- President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything, without it practically nothing.

And I do believe that one of the reasons that we will be successful in our negotiations is because the people will see the impact of what is being proposed on their lives, on their values, on our country.

And so that is -- as -- look, President Ronald Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Obama, all valued the contribution of newcomers to our country, with their hope, their determination, their optimism, their courage to make the future better for their families.

They're all American traits and when they come with those values, they make America more American, other presidents saw that. This president used it as a -- and fear mongering. I just don't think that's right.

But in order to get in a position to fight it, we had to win on the issues that strike right to the financial security of America's working families and those are our values. Yes sir.

QUESTION: Both you and the president spoke about --

[13:58:03] BLITZER: All right, so we've been listening to Nancy Pelosi, the soon to be, presumably, not necessarily 100 percent, speaker of the House. The Democrats won the majority in the House yesterday, a big win for the Democrats, even though the president of the United States, we just heard him suggest this was a big win for the Republicans and for him personally.

So she had a conversation with the president. He called her, Gloria, last night, congratulated her on the Democrats' win. They said, on certain issues, infrastructure, maybe some other issues, they could work together. But then the president warned very specifically just a little while ago in the East Room of the White House, if the Democrats try to investigate, subpoena, go ahead with all sorts of oversight, you know what, there could be a major confrontation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it was a warning. I think he was threatening them. It was beyond a warning. It was, you do this and we're going to give it right back to you so you better watch yourself. And she didn't pay much attention to it, I must say. She just said, when we go down any of those paths -- and she was talking about subpoenas, oversight, she made the point that oversight is Congress's job -- we'll know what we're doing and we'll do it right.

TAPPER: Can I just say one thing? We're all like frogs in boiling water. The Congress has a responsibility, enumerated and expanded in the Constitution, OK? The House does oversight, the Senate does oversight. That's what they're supposed to do anyway.

BLITZER: It's a co-equal branch of government.

TAPPER: Exactly. The president of the United States threatening them, if you investigate my administration, I will investigate you, meaning, I will use the Justice Department, I will use the FBI for retaliation --

BASH: It's outrageous.

TAPPER: That's an abuse of power. That's not acceptable. That's not how presidents behave. I mean, I'm glad he reads the stage directions aloud so we all know what's in his mind. That's at least an improvement upon Nixon, who did it privately. But that's not allowed. And even if it's an empty threat, even if he has no intention or if he has guardrails around him in John Kelly or Jeff Sessions for the time being, that we'll prevent them from doing that?