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Pelosi: President Trump Violated The Constitution; Pelosi: Affordable Care Act Could Be A Path To Medicare-For-All; Pelosi On Climate Crisis. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired December 5, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NOAH FELDMAN, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: President's systematic refusal to engage with Congress itself threatens the basic constitutional structure of the government.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Right.
FELDMAN: Because if you can't impeach the President, and you can't indict him, then he's above the law.
COOPER: We're - we're going to have to end there where - there's Town Hall. Professor Noah Feldman, I really appreciate it. Robert Ray, always, thank you very much.
ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, FORMER SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
COOPER: The CNN Town Hall with House Speaker--
FELDMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: --Nancy Pelosi, moderated by Jake Tapper starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER: This is a CNN Town Hall event. Good evening, I'm Jake Tapper. We are here with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
Today, Speaker Pelosi said that the House of Representatives will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Trump.
Madam Speaker, thank you so much for taking our - our questions on this somber and historic day.
You just launched this process, and will likely - likely make President Trump the third President in history to be impeached. We're potentially two weeks away from that moment.
That move would put President Trump on trial in the Senate next month. Senators would then get to vote either to acquit or to convict the President, which would result in his removal from Office. Our audience is eager to ask you a lot of questions about this impeachment and the importance of this moment.
Our questioners currently live in the battleground states of Virginia, and Pennsylvania, as well as - as well as Maryland and Washington D.C. You're going to hear from them in - in one second.
But I do want to start with a couple of questions of my own, if - if I can be so brave, and - and that is, you said this morning that - that President Trump, in your view, abused his power and that, in your view, he - he violated the Constitution.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Yes.
TAPPER: So, do you believe that the President should be impeached?
PELOSI: I believe that we should introduce articles of impeachment. This is a very sad day, I think, for our country. It's something that I would have hoped we could have avoided. But the President's actions made it necessary.
You cannot violate the Constitution in full view. The facts are clear. They were presented by the people who had access to the situation. Facts are clear. The Constitution is clear. The President violated the Constitution. And so, I think, it is important for us to proceed.
If we were not to proceed, it would say to any President, any future President, whoever she or he may be, Democratic or Republican, that our democracy is gone. The President is king. He can do whatever he wants in violation of the law, in ignoring the acts of Congress, undermining our system of checks and balances. That is the genius of the Constitution.
So, for me, you know, there are many other incidences that people interpreted as being impeachable. I think, and - and when it came to Ukraine, in my view, Ukraine is very - all about Russia because withholding or granting military assistance to Ukraine was all to the benefit of Russia to hold up that aid.
TAPPER: And there was something different about that because earlier this year you talked about how you thought, when you were opposing impeachment, you said you thought that the President was trying to goad the House into impeachment, in order to - to rally his base.
There's something different about this moment that makes you think that he's not doing that?
PELOSI: Well his goading is one thing. His violation of the Constitution, challenging us to honor our oath of Office, we take the oath. It's the first order of business, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The President's oath is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He's not doing that. And this is - this is about our country. At the beginning of the Revolution, in the dark days of Revolution,
Thomas Paine said "The Times have found us." Times found them to declare independence, to fight a war of independence, to start a country.
And the beauty of what they started were our Founding documents. Thank God they made the Constitution amendable, so we could expand freedom well beyond what they did then.
But in that Constitution, the genius of it all was the system of checks and balances. They did not want a monarch. They did not want a "President King." That's what they fought the war against.
The President said - Article One is the Legislative branch. Article Two is the Executive branch. The President said Article Two says "I can do whatever I want."
So, for me, this is about honoring our oath of office, making sure that the Constitution is respected.
And it's - it's about that and how he has ignored the subpoenas of Congress, the oversight of Congress, something very strange there that there hasn't been an intervention among some of his own people.
TAPPER: And we'll get to some of those questions about the subjects he raised. I do want to ask you though. There was an intense moment this morning when you spoke to reporters.
A reporter asked you if you hated President Trump, if that was the motivation for impeachment. You said you don't hate anybody, and you also said, "Don't mess with me when it comes to words like that," the word "Hate."
Can you - can you share why that seemed to elicit such a strong response from you?
PELOSI: Was that a reporter? Is that what reporters do?
TAPPER: He's what--
PELOSI: Is that what reporters do? In any event--
TAPPER: Well I'm not going to comment on that. But yes, it's a reporter with the Sinclair News.
PELOSI: Yes, Sinclair's out of news story.
The - I was raised a Catholic. My college roommate, Rita Meyer, my college classmate, Mary Beyda are here where they - we - we were raised, and my dear husband, Paul, and dear friend Susan (ph), we were raised in - in a Catholic faith.
And the word "Hate a person" was just - that just doesn't happen, you know. The word "Hate" is a terrible word, but you might reserve it for vanilla ice cream, or something like that, but not, I'm a chocoholic, but not for a person.
PELOSI: And it is - so, for him, to say that was really disgusting to me. And, of course, he was quoting somebody else.
TAPPER: Congressman Collins, Republican on the--
PELOSI: Hiding behind something else.
PELOSI: But I - I think that it's a technique, a tactic that they use.
I'd rather like to think that America is a country that is full of love. Whatever we think about whatever somebody else might believe that might be different from us that that's not - that isn't a reason to dislike somebody. It's a reason to disagree with somebody.
And our Founders - excuse me, I have a little cold. The - our Founders--
TAPPER: Some water here if you want.
PELOSI: --gave us guidance. They said "E pluribus unum," "From many one."
They couldn't imagine how many we would be or how different we would be from each other. But they knew that we had to strive for oneness, so whatever our differences that we try to resolve them in a way that was unifying for our country.
That's what we hope to do, even with this unfortunate necessity, made necessary by the President's actions in this impeachment to try to do it in a way that makes us worthy of our oath of Office, as we honor the vows of our Founders to unify our country.
TAPPER: If you want some water, by the way.
PELOSI: Thank you.
TAPPER: Right, we're here. I do want to ask you one last question, and then we'll go to some of the audience members.
President Trump referred to that moment, from your press conference, as a nervous fit. And then, he said - you said that you pray for the President. You've said that before.
PELOSI: I do, yes.
TAPPER: He said he doesn't believe that you pray for him, "Not even close."
PELOSI: I do. I do. TAPPER: And I want to give you a chance to respond.
PELOSI: First of all, I hope we don't have too many questions, me responding to the President's.
TAPPER: No, no, that's - that's - that's - that's the only tweet question.
PELOSI: The - the President is a master at projecting. When you call somebody else nervous, he's the nervous one. When he suspects that somebody's not praying, he's probably not praying.
But I do pray for him because he is the President of the United States. And I pray that God will open his heart to meeting the needs of people in our country.
Whether it's - like today, they're taking food stamps away from people, or was that yesterday, whether it's our DREAMers, whether it's the children at the Border that they were putting in cages, separating from their families, please God, please God, open his heart to receive the goodness that it would take to - to share with these people.
Also, I pray for his health, and for his safety, and for his family. I do all the time. But it doesn't bother me what he thinks about that, all the more reason to pray for him.
TAPPER: I want to bring in our first questioner of the night. Her name is Nyah Stewart. She's a Democrat from Frederick, Maryland.
PELOSI: Hi, Nyah.
TAPPER: She's a freshman at the University of Maryland. Nyah?
PELOSI: Go Terps! How about last night?
NYAH STEWART, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Yes, exactly.
Some argue that the 2020 election as a better process for removing the President from Office. What made you decide to continue with impeachment proceedings, despite it being so close to the election?
PELOSI: Well it's a whole year and a couple of more months for the President to be in Office. And I appreciate your question. The - here's the thing.
One of these - what - one of the things that the President did was to undermine, jeopardize the integrity of our elections, by asking a foreign power to intervene. You know what the ask was, to announce an investigation into his potential rival.
And if he isn't stopped from doing that he will continue. He invited - invited intervention to come - come on in. The Intelligence Community says they're completely certain that the Russians disrupted our election in 2016 that they are 24/7 doing it all the time.
[21:10:00] And so, when the President is saying, "Well the Ukrainians actually did it," you know that - their conspiracy theory, and the rest, that has to be stopped with what the President - one of his grievances, his offenses, is that he was jeopardizing the integrity of our election, and we could not let him continue to do that, without holding him accountable for it.
TAPPER: Let me ask a follow-up to Nyah's excellent question, some recent battleground states.
PELOSI: Thank you, Nyah.
TAPPER: Polls in some recent battleground states show more voters in those states oppose impeaching and removing the President than support it, a slim majority, but still a majority.
If you wake up the day after Election Day 2020 and exit polls show that impeaching President Trump helped him get reelected, would you have any regrets?
PELOSI: No. Others - this isn't about politics at all. This is about patriotism. It's not about partisanship. It's about honoring our oath of Office.
This is the first President, has committed all of these things, as the constitutional experts said yesterday, nobody efforts even come close, not Richard Nixon even came close to his dishonoring his own oath of Office.
So, no, this isn't - politics is not even a consideration in this. This is about "Protect and defend the Constitution."
I truly believe, and Nyah, and you too, I truly believe that the Times have found us to save our democracy, defend our democracy for the people. If we didn't, we would no - when - when our - on September 17th, 1787 was the day that the Constitution was ratified, was adopted.
When Benjamin Franklin came out on the steps of Independence Hall, they said, "What do we have?" Mr. Franklin, he said, a Republic - they said, "A monarchy or a Republic?" He said, "A Republic, if you can keep it."
Well this is a challenge to that Republic because allowed - left to his own devices, this President is taking us away from a system of checks and balances. Article Two, he says, said "I can do whatever I want," I repeat.
That's not what Article - that's not what the Constitution says.
And so, for him to ignore the oversight and the - the questions of Congress, for him to take money, appropriated by the House, and the Senate, in a bipartisan way, for a military assistance to Ukraine, which was a country under assault, is a country under assault, from Russia, by then it was a 11,000, probably 13,000 people now killed, by Russian aggression, and he's withholding this - the funds that could help them defend themselves.
It was - it's a wrong thing to do. But you don't - but in the course of doing it, the President, again, has violated his oath.
TAPPER: The next question is from Damilola Arowolaju. He's a Democrat from Madison, Illinois. He's a law student at GW.
DAMILOLA AROWOLAJU, LAW STUDENT, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: What type of information must be uncovered to convince Republicans to break party lines and vote to convict the President in the Senate?
And what type of information, if not already uncovered, does the public need for the 2020 election to become a referendum on President Trump's guilt?
PELOSI: Well thank you for your question. I don't know what it will take. The - the facts are pretty clear about what the President did, and the Constitution is very clear about how he has violated it.
But I don't think that the - the 2020 election is going to ride on this, having nothing to do with a decision to go or not. Everything we see as the most important issue for the American people is healthcare. It still is. And so, that's why we're so happy.
News of the day, for us today, was we announced our H.R.3 legislation, to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. We'll have it on the floor next week. We're very, very proud of it. It's transformational in so many ways, which I'll go into if you wish me to.
But I don't - I don't know. I'll tell you this. There are many court cases and some reporters keep saying "Well why don't you wait for the court cases?"
Well we have the court cases because the President is obstructing justice, by appealing everything to the courts. And then, the courts have ruled in our favor overwhelmingly.
Appeal it to a higher court, and now, some of those cases are up to the Supreme Court, and then we'll see how long they will take to respond. So, some of that information, if the courts will see, if - again, first second levels have come out in our favor.
Some of that information may be how by the time the Senate takes up the case, if in fact we do impeach the President in the House of Representatives, would be - might - some of that information might be so, I think, it's very clear now.
I think it's so overwhelming that to ignore it would be derelict in our own duty. I can't answer for the Republicans. They have taken their oath to Donald Trump.
TAPPER: So, just to jump off of what Damilola asked, are you - as you recall, no doubt, on the day you became Speaker of the House in January of this year, you were asked about impeachment, and you said that it would have - it would, quote, "Have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it."
But, as you just noted, there are no Republicans in the House who support either the impeachment inquiry. And it appears as though none of them are going to support impeachment itself. Does this mean that you're failing to meet the standard that you set in January?
PELOSI: No. I've said in the - Republicans have failed to meet the standard of honoring their oath of Office, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
TAPPER: Are you willing to impeach President Trump even if there are no Republican votes in the House in favor of it?
PELOSI: I've asked for the writing of the articles of impeachment.
TAPPER: OK. Let's bring in Dean Chien from Santa Monica, California. He's a registered Democrat. He's a senior at Johns Hopkins University.
TAPPER: He's the President of the Student Government Association.
PELOSI: I'm from Baltimore, you know.
DEAN CHIEN, STUDENT, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: So, Speaker Pelosi, you resisted calls for the impeachment of President Bush in 2006, and President Trump, following the Mueller report earlier this year.
This time it's different. Why did you impose - why did you oppose impeachment in the past? And what is your obligation to protect our democracy from the actions of our President now?
PELOSI: Thank you. Thank you for bringing up the question about - because when I became Speaker the first time, there was overwhelming call for me to impeach President Bush, on the strength of the war in Iraq, which I vehemently opposed, and again not - again, I - I say "Again," I said - said at other places that I - that was my we - all has always (ph) Intelligence.
I was Ranking Member on the Intelligence Committee even before I became part of the leadership of Gang of Four. So, I knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq. It just wasn't there.
They had to show us now - to show the Gang of Four all the Intelligence they had. The Intelligence did not show that that - that was the case. So, I knew it was a - a misrepresentation to the public. But having said that, it was a, in my view, not a ground for impeachment. That was - they won the election. They made a representation. And to this day, people think - people think that that it was the right thing to do.
If people think that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11, I mean it's as appalling what they did. But I did - and I've said, if somebody wants to make a case, you bring it forward.
But I - I - they had impeached Bill Clinton for a personal indiscretion, and misrepresenting about it, impeached him. Some of these same people are saying, "Oh, this doesn't rise to impeachment," were the - right there impeaching Bill Clinton for - for being stupid in terms of something like that.
PELOSI: I mean I love him. I think he was a great President. But being stupid in terms of that and - and - and what would somebody do, not to embarrass their family.
But in any event, and that's how they did with Bill Clinton. Now, they want me to do George. This - I just didn't want it to be a way of life in our country.
As far as Mueller report, oh there - there was a - a good deal of - the academics said, and a thousand - a thousand legal experts wrote a statement that said the Mueller report is an impeach - what's in there is an impeachable offense.
It wasn't - so much of what's in the Mueller report will be more clear once some of the court cases are resolved. But it wasn't so clear to the public.
The Ukraine has removed all doubt. It was self-evident that the President miss - undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections, as he violated his oath of Office. There's just - you - you - that's something that cannot be ignored.
TAPPER: Jumping off of Dean's question, you said this morning, Madam Speaker, that your Chairman will make recommendations--
TAPPER: --on what the articles of impeachment should be.
So, if the Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerrold Nadler recommends that the articles of impeachment do include obstruction of justice charges from the Mueller report, will you go forward with that, or would you stand in its way?
PELOSI: We're - we're - we're operating collectively. It's not going to be "Somebody put something on the table." We have our own, shall we say, communication with each other.
[21:20:00] TAPPER: OK.
PELOSI: But I'm not going to answer one - with all due respect, I'm not going to answer one charge. We're not writing the - the articles of impeachment here tonight.
TAPPER: All right, stay right there. We're going to be right back with more questions for the Speaker of the House on this historic somber day. Nancy Pelosi, after this quick break, stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We are live in Washington D.C. for a Town Hall with Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on this historic day.
Speaker Pelosi, I want to ask you a quick question because the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, traveled overseas this week, including to Ukraine, to continue investigating these unfounded allegations about the Bidens.
In a tweet, just hours ago, Giuliani said that until this matter is resolved, it, "Will be a major obstacle to the U.S. assisting Ukraine with its anti-corruption reforms."
TAPPER: He vowed to release his findings very soon. What do you make of Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine, continued efforts?
PELOSI: I have - I'm a busy person. Today, we've prepared our Voting Rights Act that we're going to bring to the floor tomorrow. We're very excited about it.
We announced our - our H.R.3, our voting our - our - lowering prescription drugs, H.R.3, Voting Rights Act H.R.4. We're working on our U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. We're trying to do a defense bill. I don't have time to keep track of Rudy Giuliani. I - I just - I just don't.
But I do think that it is further indication of the arrogance of it all. Every authority has said there is no truth to the rumor that the Ukrainians were instrumental in interfering in our election.
Putin makes a joke of it. He says, "Oh, now they - now they're blaming it on Ukraine. They took it off of me." But all roads lead to Putin. This is about Putin, right from Putin, in Russia, in Moscow, Putin's desk, the disruption of our elections, but not only ours.
They want to undermine democracy throughout the world. They're in Latin America. They're in Africa, in Europe, in the United States, to undermine democracy. They have a program to say why would you even vote? Nobody cares about
you. This is their social media activity. And so, to - and it's in their interest to undermine democracy.
So, my view, if that's what he's doing, I don't know what he's doing, but if that's what you say he's doing is to - to charge Ukraine with interfering in our election, which has been completely debunked, then I think that he is again playing right to Putin's success.
TAPPER: Let's bring in Laura Cavender, who's from Ardmore, where I used to scoop ice cream at the Baskin-Robbins there, just so you know.
TAPPER: Pennsylvania, Ardmore, Pennsylvania. She's a Communication Strategist and a Democratic Committee Member in Haverford Township. Laura?
LAURA CAVENDER, (D) COMMITTEE MEMBER, HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, PA: Thank you.
CAVENDER: And thank you, Speaker Pelosi.
PELOSI: Thank you.
CAVENDER: If Donald Trump is reelected, and continues to behave corruptly, and with a disregard for truth, human dignity, and the law, what recourse will the House have, since the impeachment process will already have taken place? What will the checks be on this President if he is re-elected?
PELOSI: Let's not even contemplate that.
PELOSI: Because that - really, the just - damage that this Administration has done to America. America's a great country. We can sustain two terms, I don't know.
Here's - here's what it is. We all pray that God will bless America. And what is America? America is our constitution with our system of checks and balances, our bill of rights, spelling out freedoms, freedom of the press, etcetera. That is America.
What is America? The people who we are by - unless you're blessed to be born a Native American, as it's a blessing to you, and all who know and love you, and to our country, we are a nation of immigrants.
And he denigrates that, dishonors the Constitution, denigrates who we are, as a people, degrades our environment almost every day, almost every day, the air our children breathe, water, all of it, in denial about the climate crisis and the rest. And - and - and what is America? It's a great beautiful place from sea to shining sea, which he degrades. And what is America? Our values, values of what we care about as a nation, a model, a beacon of hope to the world, and he de - devalues that.
So, again, we don't agonize. We organize. And we do so in a way that, again, is unifying for our country. It is absolutely imperative. Civilization, as we know it today, is at stake in the next election, and certainly, our planet.
I just came back - I was mentioning that I just came back from Spain. I was there for 48 hours for the Climate Crisis, the COP 25, which are 15 - 14 of us, Members of Congress, one of them a Senator, Senator Whitehouse, a champion on climate issues.
And what have we done? We pulled out of the Paris Accord. We - we went back to say we're still in. We are still in. Nearly 200 nations are in, except not the United States of America.
So, it is - it's just strange. I mean it is a - it is not about shared values, about what America is, or fairness in our economy, and the rest. We have important work to do.
And our candidates, I'm very proud of all of them, they - they'll be putting forth, as soon as it emerges, I mean, narrows down, we'll see a vision that one of them has, whoever she or he may be, to take us forward in a way that is values-based, that is entrepreneurial in its thinking, that is fair in - in its economic proposals, and understands that one of the challenges, generationally to us, an - in an existential way is a challenge to the planet that we face.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Ethan Tuttle from Brookville, Maryland. He's a registered Democrat. He's a sophomore at the University of Maryland, studying finance, and he was an intern for Congressman Eric Swalwell, your fellow--
PELOSI: Fire away.
TAPPER: --California Democrat. Ethan?
PELOSI: Who also went to University of Maryland.
ETHAN TUTTLE, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Yes.
PELOSI: Eric Swalwell did.
TAPPER: That's a little Swalwell trivia right there.
(AUDIENCE AND SPEAKER PELOSI LAUGHTER)
TUTTLE: Thanks. Why are lawful subpoenas allowed to be ignored without consequence?
And what steps will the House be taking to ensure they have the full cooperation of those with critical information related to the impeachment investigation?
PELOSI: Well, as you see other, that - when we have issued the subpoenas, the President has - they have objected, and taken it to court.
And we have one, as I mentioned earlier, every level in the courts now, we're waiting for some decisions from the Supreme Court, as to whether they're going to take up these cases or not.
We won just the Deutsche Bank case with the President's financial statements, the Mazar case, the McGahn case, and that.
Article Three of the Nixon impeachment was that he did not respect the subpoenas of Congress. So, the President, in some ways, is self- impeaching, because he is obstructing judges - justice by not honoring the subpoenas.
But that is what is - this is such an important question because Congress, and the system of checks and balances, the oversight that Congress has, as a check and balance on the Executive branch is manifested in oversight.
And when that oversight sees reason for wrongdoing, and issues a subpoena, that's part of the checks and balances that the President sadly is ignoring. And that is - that's the - the crux of the matter. We either are a Republic, or we are a monarchy, ignore any question.
George Washington has to issue - respond to Congress. Abraham Lincoln had to respond to Congress.
TAPPER: So, let me just follow up on Ethan's question because you've called the White House's decision to fight the subpoenas obstruction of justice. They see it as separation of powers. You say you're not going to wait on the courts to proceed.
Why is it obstruction of justice for them to go to the courts, which is obviously, as you just noted, a co-equal branch of government, and have they - the - the courts be the final arbiter?
PELOSI: Well that is a - the - the point is, is that this is information they should be making available to Congress. This is - shouldn't be about the courts.
And, in fact, Richard Nixon then, he - he - in other words, some of the issue - some of the court stuff is about do we have access to Grand Jury information, which would be elucidating in terms of some of the actions they've taken. They won't let us see that. That's in the courts. But even Richard Nixon said yes, have access to the court case.
TAPPER: President Trump has said that if there's a Senate trial, which it - there likely will be, if the President is impeached, he would like you and Chairman Adam Schiff to testify, to be - to be - into - to have to give testimony in a Senate trial.
TAPPER: Would you be willing to testify if it meant that people you want to hear from, such as Mick Mulvaney, the Acting Chief of Staff, or - or John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor would also have to testify, if there's some sort of deal cut, would you be willing to do so?
PELOSI: It has nothing to do. They should be testifying because they have been asked to testify by Congress. It isn't a deal. It's about a system of checks and balances.
Can we not have any more questions about impeachment? We have so many - let me tell you about Spain and the COP 25, and the young people--
TAPPER: We do have a question about the environment.
PELOSI: --who were there, impatient about what comes next.
TAPPER: We're going to get - I have - I have one last question on impeachment for you and - and then--
PELOSI: For making the--
TAPPER: You know, I promise you I have an environmental question. I promise - we have others who's--
PELOSI: And - and what I - I don't mind any question about environment. But to ask me questions through the prism of the White House is like, what? Yes, Sir.
TAPPER: Well let me introduce - if - if I may, let me introduce you Jinwook Hwang--
PELOSI: You may.
TAPPER: --is a registered Republican from Fairfax, Virginia. He's a senior--
TAPPER: --at the University of Maryland. Jinwook?
PELOSI: Oh, gosh.
JINWOOK HWANG, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Speaker Pelosi, I'm sorry I'm asking this question, but please bear with me.
HWANG: As seen from the - as seen from the political atmosphere right now, you've seen that the United States has become extremely divided. And this question is about how we can unify moving forward.
While one side finds it appalling that the President has not been impeached yet, the other side considers it a witch-hunt to be trying to impeach a sitting - sitting President-- President.
How do you plan on unifying the nation if the - throughout the impeachment process, and what advice do you have for the politician who will succeed you on the keeping the Republic?
PELOSI: The - thank you for your question. The - it's really important to note that the President - the country was divided. The President had been a very divisive force. And - and he's not the only reason it's divided.
But what's interesting to me, and you may find this interesting too, they had a poll the other day of Republicans in America. 53 percent of them said in this poll that President Trump was a better President than Abraham Lincoln.
PELOSI: So, you see there's some roots of disagreement there.
PELOSI: Maybe they're still fighting the Civil War. I don't know what that could be.
But that's - that's - you know, again, he has fanned the flame, you know. His - his really - but some of that division was there before President Trump, but he has made it much, much worse.
So, it isn't - that's why - I don't want to talk about him. It's about what else we can do, working together, for our country. What are we doing to reduce the disparity in income in America?
What are we doing to make sure all children have a good education, and can walk to school, or whatever, and play outside safely without the fear of gun violence? What are we doing in - in so many respects to have expanded freedom?
And - and lot of our - we have top - our top 10 bills. We - by the way, we have 400 bills sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. And he keeps saying, "All they do is impeach and that's where" - no, we have 400 bills. 275 of them are bipartisan bills, 275 of them are.
One of them is, which - something we think 80 - 90 percent of the American people support, background checks, to - to reduce gun violence in our country like, you know, that would be a unifying thing, to reduce gun violence. 25,000 people have died since we sent - from gun violence, since we sent that bill to Mitch McConnell's desk.
Equal pay for equal work, respecting women, Violence Against Women Act, raising the minimum wage, The Equality Act, which is a legislation to end discrimination - discrimination against the LGBTQ community, promoting net neutrality, Climate Action Now. The list goes on and on of the legislation that is there, some of the things we promised in the campaign, H.R.3, lowering the cost of prescription drug, H.R.4. H.R.1, H.R.1, the first one, was about lowering the role of big dark money in politics, and making our political system much more wholesome.
Politics have never - haven't always been this way, this divisive. This is - it's going to take some healing, and it's going to take some repair, not just natural healing, but repair, to get us to a good place.
I myself think that one of the - one of the ways that America will heal is through the arts. I - I truly believe that that's something where we find our common ground. You - you enjoy music together, you see a play, or a movie, you laugh, you cry, you're inspired, you laugh, you cry.
You - the poet Shelley once wrote, "The greatest force for moral good is imagination." Imagination, the creativity of it all, again, to share an experience in a way that puts aside your differences, imagination, put yourself in another person's shoes.
And I think that, that plus a discussion, people talking to each other, that we all have much more in common than we - that's than divides us, and we have to find that common ground.
TAPPER: Well our audience has more questions for Speaker Nancy Pelosi on other subjects be - beyond impeachment. We'll get to those right after this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to our CNN Town Hall, live with Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. We are in Washington D.C. Let's get right back to the questions from our audience.
Our next question comes from Naomi Oladeinde. She's an Independent, and a junior at American University. She's from Bowie, Maryland, and has a question about the trade deal being negotiated with the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as the USMCA. Naomi?
NAOMI OLADEINDE, STUDENT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Good evening, Speaker Pelosi.
PELOSI: Good evening.
OLADEINDE: My question is USMCA has been a topic that many lawmakers have made a point of concern, as of lately. And I wanted to know if USMCA will be passed before the holiday season.
PELOSI: USMCA will be passed when we have the language that has enforcement in it. The NAFTA, which is hopefully we will replace with this legislation, is moving forward.
But we have good language in there. I myself had hoped that this could be a template for future trade agreements that it would be so good that we would want to use it as a model as we went forward.
We're not at that place because we're not at a place that has enforcement. We have issues that relate to the environment, issues that relate to biologics, pharmaceutical drugs, issues that relate to workers' rights.
And if - but if you don't have enforcement, you're just having a conversation, but you're not having an effective instrument for trade.
And so, we don't want it to be as if, "Well, we had NAFTA. People didn't like it. They wanted something new. So, we did something a little bit better." NAFTA was sugar on top, and said, "OK, enjoy this. It's something different," if it really isn't good enough.
But I'm optimistic. We've always tried to be on a path for - to yes for this. But again, the enforcement piece is the overarching, because you can have all the best language, but if you can't enforce it, then you - you really haven't made much of a difference. But I'm optimistic about it.
TAPPER: The USMCA includes certain legal protections for tech companies.
TAPPER: I believe - I believe you want some of these protections for the--
TAPPER: --tech companies removed, right?
PELOSI: That's right.
TAPPER: Can you explain that?
PELOSI: Well everything I'm about is about the children. My "Why" of being in politics is that one in five children in America who live in poverty, go to sleep hungry at night.
I - I just - my husband and I, we have five children, and we see the joy of it all, and want all children to be able to at least have opportunity.
And there are certain violations on the - in the social media that are harmful to children. And we - we don't have to we should adjust that.
But if you have it in a trade agreement that you're not going to adjust it, then you tie the hands of those who say there could be some improvements, what modification can we make that recognizes all of the interests involved here?
But I don't think we should have a business model in the tech community, and I come from the tech community, as you know, the San Francisco Bay Area, I don't think their business model should be predicated on nasty stuff on social media that affects children.
TAPPER: The federal government, as you know, is facing a possible shutdown on December 20th, just 15 days away.
Do you believe that the Democratic-led House, the Republican-led Senate, and President Trump can all agree on legislation to - to fund the government, or are we headed for another shutdown?
PELOSI: I don't think we're headed for a shutdown. I don't think anybody wants that. I think the President and the Republicans learned in the last shutdown that it - it just wasn't - there was no upside to it.
Even though the President was said "I'll take pride in shutting down government," I don't think he's going to take pride in shutting it down again.
We would hope to be finished by the 21st. And we're on a good path. If we're not, we would just to go to a - continue resolution until couple, you know, until after Christmas. But I hope we don't have to do that. But I don't think anybody wants to see a shutdown.
TAPPER: Let's bring in Tia Simmons. She's an Independent voter. She's originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She's currently a teacher for Washington D.C. Public Schools, God bless you. Tia?
TIA SIMMONS, TEACHER: Thank you.
PELOSI: Good for you.
SIMMONS: Thank you, Speaker Pelosi.
My question is you were the Speaker of the House when Obamacare was approved. How do you feel about the leading 2020 Democratic candidates wanting to do away with Obamacare and give Medicare to all?
TAPPER: She's obviously talking about Senator Sanders, and Senator Warren.
PELOSI: I know that, right.
TAPPER: Two of the leading candidates. Well I just want to clarify because obviously some others don't want to do away with it.
PELOSI: For the benefit of it.
TAPPER: Yes. But - but - but Medicare-for-All, Warren and - and Sanders are the ones that - that want to do away with Obamacare, and replace it with Medicare-for-All.
PELOSI: Well I'm not for doing away with - for - of Obamacare. Of course, I have a proprietary interest in it, being the Speaker when it was passed. And the House of Representatives played a very big role in writing that legislation, and President Obama was just such a tremendous leader.
And we take great pride in the fact that not only did 20 million more people have healthcare, access to healthcare, who didn't have it before, but 150 million families had access to better benefits.
And I can go into them, no longer being - having a preexisting condition deprived you of having access to affordable healthcare, no lifetime limits, the list goes on and on. So, we're very proud of what it is.
We know that we could improve upon it. There are certain things that have expired in it that need to be replaced, and that there are improvements that can be made once you see the implementation of legislation.
So, I would rather call for healthcare for all Americans, as we - as we improve the Affordable Care Act, it may lead to Medicare-for-All. Put it all on the table, see what the benefits are to the consumer, to the patient, and when you do so, then compare it to what other options are.
I think that Affordable Care Act can be a path. I wanted a public option. I didn't win in that argument in the Congress, last time, when we did the Affordable Care Act, I think, a public option would be an improvement to the Affordable Care Act.
But I don't - I don't - whatever you want to eventually have, I don't think you should do away with the Affordable Care Act to get there. The Affordable Care Act could be a path to Medicare-for-All.
Now, Affordable Care Act has better benefits than Medicare, and that people don't realize that and - and - catastrophic, things like that. So, I think that I'm not in agreement.
I will - I've so said to some of these people, I had that sign in my basement 30 years ago, single payer, single payer, and I got criticized for not supporting Senator Kennedy's employer-based healthcare legislation. So, we've had this debate. It's a lively debate. It's a legitimate debate.
Let's - when the - when we win the White House, and the Senate, and the House again, let's have that conversation with no prejudice toward any proposal but with an open mind, the confidence about what we believe in, the humility to listen to other ideas, as we go forward.
TAPPER: That's right.
PELOSI: It's a - it's a - it is the biggest issue in the campaign, healthcare. The cost of healthcare, cost of prescription drugs, it's not only a health issue, it is a financial health issue. TAPPER: People might not realize it. But protecting Obamacare was so important to you, you said that you, quote, would have been happy to go home if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016 and thus Obamacare would have been safe.
So, let me just ask you the next logical question. If a Democrat wins in 2020, would you feel free to go home because Obamacare would be protected? Or - or - or - or not?
PELOSI: Well, let's see. I'm not on a timetable. I'm on a mission.
TAPPER: We'll be right back with more from our Town Hall with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
TAPPER: Welcome back. Thanks for joining us for our live CNN Town Hall with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Let's get back to the audience.
Our next question is from Addy Perlman. She's from Valdosta, Georgia. She's a junior at Johns Hopkins, and a registered Democrat, currently supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren. Addy?
ADDY PERLMAN, STUDENT, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Hi, thank you. Speaker Pelosi--
PERLMAN: --what is Congress doing to ensure my generation will have breathable air, water we can drink, a climate that will not cause massive food shortages, and extreme temperatures that will relegate us to being cave-dwellers. Should fossil--
PERLMAN: --should fossil fuel companies, utilities and other polluters be civilly and - and criminally liable for the damage they are causing to our environment?
PELOSI: I see. So, thank you very much for your question. I'm going to come over and answer.
As I just came back, as I said, from Spain for the COP 25, the climate crisis - to address the climate crisis. And this is really an existential threat to the planet. You can't exaggerate.
When I came home that night, I had dinner with some scientists on another subject, artificial intelligence, and they said, "Tell us about Spain."
And I told them how close to the - we are and how the Attorney - the Secretary General of the United Nations defined the challenge, how the scientists defined the challenges. At the end of my conversation, they - my presentation, they said, "It's worse than that."
So, this is - this is, as I say, if you believe this is why that - that this is God's creation, we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it. But even if you don't, you just believe that we owe it to our children, to the next generation, to pass on a better planet.
But in the here and now, in the here and now, it is - it is urgent. And we have passed, as I said, the Climate Action Now. But we've had a 100 hearings already on the climate crisis in the Congress.
And it's a public health issue, clean air, clean water, food safety. It's a jobs issue, again, clean jobs being preeminent in the world, and green technologies, it's a defense issue, because what's happening with the - with the planet, the erosion of habitat, the encroachment of deserts, the melting of glaciers, the drying up of rivers, all of this, the thermal management of the planet, this all has an impact on competition for resources, migration, all of it.
So, it is a national security issue, as our generals and other leaders in national security tell us. And, of course, it is a moral issue to preserve the planet.
But on every single day, whether it's honoring the Clean Air Act, whether it is issues that relate to food safety, methane, how we handle, right now, we're having a fight in the - in the defense bill for PFAS.
This is how you hold corporations accountable for the toxics that they send forth in there, and they just don't want to hold them liable. And it's a big fight that we are having.
So, there is a difference, a difference of opinion on this subject. And unfortunately, we haven't found as much common ground as we would like. But, you know, I have hope because of young people. Young people understand this issue.
Next year, I'm - and we're hoping, we're hoping, we've sent so many environmental bills over to the Senate, so many healthcare bills over to the Senate, and the House, and environmental issues are related.
Next year, I host the G7 Heads of Parliament. The President heads the G7 Heads of State. They'll go first. And then, we'll have ours a couple weeks later. Ours will be in Washington D.C.
And we have - the theme of ours is the Climate Crisis, Economic Environmental Justice, justice, whether it's - whether it's indigenous people or people on - in underserved areas, and the rest.
I spoke in Spain at the Vulnerable Nations Conference.