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Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks Amid Iran Crisis, Impeachment Pressure. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 11:00   ET



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Last week, in our view, the president -- the administration conducted a provocative disproportionate airstrike against Iran, which endangered Americans. And did so without consulting Congress.

When I was informed of this attack that the administration took responsibility for over the weekend, I said, why did you not consult with Congress. Well, we held it in closely. We held it in closely. No, you have a responsibility to consult with Congress. No, we held it close. So whoever close means.

As you see, there has been criticism from the Republicans about the briefing that was put forth yesterday by the administration on this subject. Some have asked, do you agree that this is the worst intelligence classified briefing that Congress has received from this administration. As some of you heard me say, there's stiff competition for that designation of worst.

So here we are to protect American lives and values. We're passing today a war powers resolution to limit the president's military actions. The administration must de-escalate and must prevent further violence. America and the world cannot afford war.

Some of you heard me say that, in December, a bipartisan delegation, 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge that was just so remarkable to meet our VIP, our veterans who served at the Battle of the Bulge. Some of them also at Normandy. Imagine the courage of teenagers, most of them, at the time.

But the compelling message from the veterans who -- the veteran who spoke for them, along with the king of Belgium and the archduke of Luxembourg and the president of Germany, the veteran who spoke, he spoke about the Band of Brothers. He spoke about allies working together, multilateralism, spoke about the challenges they faced and those winters.

Reminding me really of Washington crossing the Delaware because it was in December and it was snowing and they were not as prepared for snow and camouflage from snow as they needed to be.

But just seeing their patriotism, their courage, those young people. And this veteran coming to speak for them, 90 some years old. At the end of his remarks, he said, I just want one message and I don't know if it is appropriate to say, but I will, pray for peace." Pray for peace. That's what we all do.

Protecting the American people is our first responsibility. Protect and defend. An oath we take. Not only of our Constitution, but of the American people. Pray for peace. That's what we must do.

And so what happened, in the view of many of us, is not promoting peace, but an escalation. Not that we have any confidence in the goodness, of the good intentions of Iran, and we certainly do not respect -- and from my intelligence background, know just how bad Soleimani was. It is not because we expect good things from them, but we expect great things from us.

Now, in terms of impeachment, you all keep asking me the same question. I keep giving you the same answer. As I said right from the start, we need to see that -- the arena in which we're sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?

In October, we put forth H.R.-660, which is -- a resolution, which talked about the terms under which we would proceed further -- to further proceed with the investigation. So the people knew what the battlefield would look like. We expect to see that here.

I hear different things. I hear that they might want to -- you probably heard, one way or another, some of them suggested they might want to dismiss - dismiss equals cover-up, dismiss equals admission that your fate of the fact, the truth, the witnesses and the documentation.

We would have hoped that, like as with the Clinton process, that there would have been a bipartisan resolution determining how to proceed. Contrary to what the majority leader said, he says this is like the Clinton -- no, it is not at all. I sent our members yesterday six points in which it is -- six of the points in which it is different.


But nonetheless, at some point, we would hope that we would see from them what the terms of engagement will be.

We are ready. We are proud of our defense of the Constitution of the United States. We are concerned that the Senators will not be able to live up to the oath that they must take to have an impartial trial. So much for that.

At the same time as this is all going on, it is important to note that there's so many other things of concern to the American people. One is the assault on the Affordable Care Act that the administration is engaged in, in the courts, in the Congress. And we are fighting them, in the courts, in the Congress and in the country.

Right now, they're in the court, instead of defending the law of the land as is the responsibility of the Justice Department, this administration is fighting the law of the land. That means benefit for pre-existing conditions, no lifetime limits or

annual limits, child staying on your policy until 26, being a woman, no longer being a pre-existing condition. The list goes on and on that they want to tear down.

So with all of the other, shall we say, distractions going on, which are a collateral benefit to the administration -- because it is a distraction as they are masterful at of what is going on -- in addition to that and related to health is the statement from the administration that they're no longer going to enforce NEPA, National Environmental Protection Act.

This means more polluters will be right there next to the water supply of our children. That's a public health issue.

In their denial of climate, they are going to not use the climate issue as anything to do with environmental decision-making. Public should know this. Denial, denial about the climate crisis in the midst of fires in Australia, and we have them in our own country.

And then I'll close by just talking about how proud we are of the work that our members have done for the people. We have moved to lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, H.R.-3, wildly popular in the country, hopefully, pass the House before we left.

So we're proud to pass the Mexico-U.S.-- U.S./Mexico/Canada trade agreement sitting over in the Senate. It is sitting over there with 400 bills we sent over, more than 275 of them bipartisan legislation.

One of them, we observed yesterday, the ninth anniversary of the assault on Gabby Gifford's life, it's a bullet, of the highest priority because if they would pass this bill it would save lives, the bill to have sensible background check legislation.

So, again, we're proud of our legislative agenda to lower health care costs, to keep the American people safe, build bigger paychecks by building infrastructure.

And this week, this coming week, in the next period of time our chairman, led by Peter DeFazio, Chairman DeFazio, the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee will be putting forth our most current initiative on climate -- on the -- I say climate because you can't do infrastructure without having a recognition of resilience and green technologies. So that's where we are there.

Now, today, we again send sad condolences to the person who lost his or her life in Puerto Rico. Others whose homes were damaged. We call upon the White House to stop its unlawful withholding of funds from Puerto Rico.

We also -- there are needs that need to be met. There has been a disaster designated, but the ongoing withholding of funds appropriated by Congress to Puerto Rico is illegal and we call upon the administration to cease and desist that illegal activity.

So what else do we have here?

Maybe we'll take some questions from all of you.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You say you need to know what the arena looks like.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How long are you prepared to hold on to the articles of impeachment if you don't get the answers you're looking for?

PELOSI: It is interesting, just to listen to what they say, because they may -- the other day, probably heard the leader say I'm glad to show what it is when I'm ready. But we don't know when he's going to be glad to be ready to show it to us. So there's something that they will have. And then he says, well, we'll pass it once we get the -- the articles.


In the past few weeks. since we have had this, shall we say, impasse because they won't reveal the terms of engagement, many things have been accomplished that are collateral benefit to the discussion.

And they relate to -- on December 20th, new e-mails showed 91 minutes after Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president, a top OMB aide asked DOD to hold off on sending military aid to the Ukraine. Directly related to that call.

On December 29th, a report, public revelations about Mulvaney's role in the delay of the aid, the effort of lawyers at DOD, DOJ and White House to justify the delay and the alarm the delay caused within the administration because not everyone was in agreement.

Last Thursday, nearly unredacted Pentagon e-mails exposed serious concerns by administration officials about the legality of the president's hold on the aid. Legality of the president's hold on the aid to Ukraine.

And just this week, Bolton announced he would comply with the subpoena, compelling his testimony. His lawyers stated he has new relevance information.

These -- and other -- our investigation and our articles necessitate a fair trial with documents and witnesses. They don't want documents, the documentation. They don't want witnesses. They may want a dismissal, which is proof that they cannot, cannot clear the president of the wrongdoing that he has put forth.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are the articles indefinite?

PELOSI: I'm not withholding them indefinitely. I'll send them over when I'm ready.


PELOSI: That may be soon. He said, if you don't send them over, I'm going to pass a U.S./Mexico/Canada trade agreement, OK. We want to see what they're willing to do, and the manner in which they will do it.

But we will not let them say, this is just like Clinton, fair is fair. It is not. Documents, documentation, witnesses, facts, truth, that's what they're afraid of.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi, you call the -- the Democrats call him a clear and present danger to democracy. Shouldn't --


PELOSI: You're talking about --

RAJU: House Democrats in the impeachment called the president --


PELOSI: Oh, I thought you meant Mitch McConnell, OK.


RAJU: So shouldn't you move more expeditiously, given the fact that you raised this serious concern of the president poses to U.S. democracy?

PELOSI: I think we should move smartly and strategically.




PELOSI: Yes. Concurrent resolution, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some criticism from both sides that this should be binding. I know there's some questions about -- why not make this with real teeth like an AUMF?

PELOSI: This is with real teeth. If you are familiar with the War Powers Act -- and I'll get you the text. The war powers text enables two approaches to go forward. One is a concurrence resolution. And it gives the procedure for that, which we will be following today. And it gives a path for concurrent -- for a H-Con resolution.

We're taking this path because it does not require a statement by the -- a signature of the president of the United States. This is a statement of the Congress of the United States. And I will not have that statement be diminished by whether the president will veto it or not. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Madam Speaker, your members raised serious concerns about the timing of the strike against Soleimani, the administration's justification. Do you think the administration misled the American people about --


PELOSI: I think that it is very unfortunate that right now -- because I was briefed in the Gang of Eight and I was briefed in the -- what do they call it, demeaning, worst classified briefing that the Republican Senators ever heard yesterday.

So at this point, in terms of what is in the public domain, difficult to address some of what they contended.

However, I will say this. Because I was informed by phone calls, as I mentioned to you earlier, I think I did anyway, that when I was briefed by the secretary of defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs over the weekend, taking responsibility for the killing, that it was disdainful, in terms of not consulting with Congress, dismissive, we held it closely. Really?


So if you want us to all join together, let us have a strategy that we work together on. I do not believe, in terms of what is in the public domain, that they have made the country safer by what they did. And that is what our responsibility is.

We'll have more discussion of this on the floor today at some length. But it is real -- again, as I go back to the Battle of the Bulge, pray for peace. We must avoid war.

And the cavalier attitude of this administration -- it is stunning. And the president said, well, I inform you by reading my tweets. No, that's not the relationship that our founders had in mind in the Constitution of the United States when they gave power to the president -- to the White House to do one thing in terms of our national security, and to the Congress to declare war and to allocate resources and the rest.


PELOSI: So this is -- this is -- your question is an important one. We, again, we will have two hours of debate. An hour on the rule, two hours on the bill to put forth some of the factual basis of the concern that we have.

And let me just say this, because you hear the administration say, well, we were justified because the office of legal counsel said. The office of legal counsel is a tool of the president of the United States. That's who that is. So whatever the president wants to do, to be declared legal, his office of legal counsel declares it. It is a misleading to the public as to what War Powers Act, Article

II, that gives the president certain powers. Article I, that gives the Congress certain powers. It is a very big issue now because it is nothing less that preventing war as we honor our first responsibility to protect the American people.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- yesterday came to the Senate, several people came out and said the briefers told them that putting out information, debating the War Powers Act would empower Iran. The House floor is debating war powers around Iran. What do you say to the Trump administration if they're telling you that's empowering Iran?

PELOSI: I don't spend a whole lot of time telling them anything because I don't know that their basis of judgment is to receive information.

However, I will say this. If they think that any statement they make is there to curtail public debate on a subject as serious as this, it just explains to you the seriousness of the situation that we are in. We will debate on the floor of the House.

Now, we are not going on the floor talking about what we learned in the -- and they said at the beginning, they said, even if you read it in the newspaper, if you hear it here, you can't talk about it. They proceed to tell us many things we have read in the local metropolitan journals that are seen on TV. But that's -- that's foolish. That's completely foolish.

And the -- as I say, we have no illusions about Iran, no illusions about Soleimani. He was a terrible person, did bad things. But it is not about how bad they are. It is about how good we are.

Protecting the people in a way that prevents war and does not have us producing again and again generations of veterans who are suffering because of -- let me just close by saying this. When we were there, and many of these veterans, 70th anniversary of Normandy.

When I met them there, I said, my uncle was in World War II, close to the Battle of the Bulge, they said, we went there next. These were so brave -- teenagers mostly, 18, 19, some 17 years old.

And when we talked to them this time, because deeper relationships over time, they said, you know, I never wanted to kill anybody. I didn't want to kill the Germans. I was incapacitating them. I would shoot them in the leg or something.

One of them told me, I killed somebody and I found out later he was a doctor and I always carried that with me. I said, well, you were -- you were instructed to shoot him because a superior said, you take him, I'll take him, you know. And they said, I still never forget that.


So we all would die for our country. We take pride in saying that. But to kill for our country is a pretty traumatic thing.

So when we want to engage in these, whatever we want to call this that the president engaged in, have to be really careful about how we endanger our men and women in uniform, who courageously, patriotically put themselves out there to protect and defend.

Any other questions?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Because the airstrike targeting Soleimani happened in Iraq, is it time for the House to consider a broader AUMF? I know that's the legal justification of the administration has put forward with this airstrike. Is it time for Congress to get rid of the 2001-2002 --


PELOSI: For sure. We did get rid of the AUMF of 2002. And it was in an appropriations bill and it passed in a bipartisan way. And in the dark of night, the then-Speaker Ryan just took it out. It was highly unusual. Highly unusual. They just went and took it out. That's ridiculous, but that's what he did.

So Congress has already passed, rejecting -- after it passed both Houses. He took it out for what was signed. So we will have that resolution coming up soon under leadership of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose wedding we observed today.

And then the question is, what do we do about AUMF. It is harder than you would think because an AUMF -- so who is president, Democrat or Republican, how much power, confidence do you have in that person, regardless of party to execute an AUMF.

And the decisions that have to be made about AUMF, it is important to note, are what is the timing of it. This one is too long. It didn't have a date. Should have a date. Not one that couldn't be renewed. But nonetheless it should have a date.

The timing, the geography. What are we talking about? This was to go into Iraq, used then to pursue al Qaeda, different places. And here we are.

And, third, what is the scope. Are we talking about boots on the ground, talking about air cover? What are we talking about in terms of scope, timing, geography and scope?

When you have that debate, it is, well, I want the president to have as much power or I want the president not to have as much power. So it is hard. It is harder than you would think. But we have to do it. And when we do it, we have to have it with enough time that is realistic militarily, but also not endless we we're not in the situation we're in now.

So to your point, the argument would be made that, putting the shoe on the other foot, if the United States had a high level, maybe the second most important person in the country, assassinated, wherever, the United States might consider that assault on our country. Right? And the Iranians might, as well, even though this took place at the Iraqi airport.

And so it is foggy. There are those who think, well, it was in Iraq, so it counts. But it was an assault on Iran, so it shouldn't count. I don't think there's anybody who thinks that that AUMF would apply in Iran.

To your other point on it, though, it is -- it needs to be addressed, rewritten, because we have to have an Authorization of Use of Military Force, specific to the danger that we are addressing.


PELOSI: One last question.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You had mentioned the Clinton impeachment trial agreement, the need for witnesses and documents. What other details specifically are you waiting to hear from Senator McConnell? And why not fully turn over these negotiations now to Senator Schumer?

PELOSI: Well, they are in the Senate's hands. This is the Senate -- they have tried to have a bipartisan approach to how they would conduct the investigation. What are we calling it -- the trial -- connect the trial.

But feebly, feebly, the majority leader has said this is just like Clinton, except it isn't. It is exactly not like Clinton in that he won't do a bipartisan agreement on how to proceed. So that's very important. But it is not incidental to say, but for the documentation and the witnesses.


Now what -- now, no, separate from all of that, under the House, Senate rules of 1986, what is allowed for the presentation from the House is one person to speak. One person to speak.

So are those the terms? Is that what we should be ready for? Or is there something else that they have in mind? It is one person to speak for the House. And one person to speak for the White House.

Did you know that? 1986. So is that the rule under which they're -- all we want to know is what are the rules? It doesn't mean we have to agree to the rules or we have to like the rules. We just want to know what they are.

So getting back to sports -- because that's all we live, right, football, football, college, high school, professional. Do we send in our team or do we have to send in special team as well as the team? Because we have to know what is the -- what that trial is about.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you turn the whole negotiations over to Senator Schumer?

PELOSI: They had the negotiations. The Senator has said he has -- doesn't have to have witnesses and the rest. So that's -- you know, we may send them over.

We have our -- I'm not responsible to Mitch McConnell or anybody else, except my members and the people that have worked so hard on this. Members and staff, patriotically honoring the oath of office, the Constitution of the United States. I will give them their -- our best shot to find the truth for our bosses, the American people.

Thank you, all, very much.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to the Niners game?

PELOSI: It would be my intention to go. I went to one game in San Francisco. We watched altogether the second game in Seattle.

I have, unfortunately, responsibilities to save our country from peril --


PELOSI: -- so this weekend, so on my Democratic -- of political leader this weekend, so my family will enjoy our season tickets at the 49er game.

And then next week -- well, get one game at a time. And we'll see about the next week.


PELOSI: We had the Baltimore/San Francisco Super Bowl and that --


PELOSI: And that was hard because I had been rooting for both teams all along, right, and again going to the 49er games and watching the Baltimore games on TV right there at the stadium.

So what happens, they both win, nobody was in a more difficult situation than I've been, as a mother of the coaches, brothers coaching the teams, and then you saw what happened at that game.

But the D'Alesandros, from Baltimore, came all dressed in purple and the Pelosis from San Francisco all came in red. And we had a lovely family reunion.

This time, I hope that we get a similar result that we have both teams in the -- I already, because of my, shall we say, responsibilities to win the House for the Democrats and, hopefully, the Electoral College for the American people, I was scheduled to be in Florida that weekend.

So I'm all set. I'm all set.


PELOSI: One way or another.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think Harry and Meghan will move to California?


PELOSI: Who knows? We're talking about Tom Brady. Who knows? Who knows what happens with all this?

But isn't it interesting? Wonderful because it is so unifying, you know. Whatever your politics, whatever -- forget it, it is about the team. And we all like to say and we all believe that we're all Team USA. So however it turns out.

Thank you, all, very much. Thank you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi there. Family feuds aside, she was taking questions for first time since very clearly a lot has happened.

Dana Bash is here with me.

Let's start with impeachment. That was one of the big questions, really key question when she was going to face reporters was is she finally going to hand over articles of impeachment? Not budging. What did you think of what she said?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a couple of things. One is she said, I'm glad to send it over when I'm ready. I'll do it when I'm ready. But she also said it won't be -- it will be soon. She's going to do it soon.


But the most telling part of her discussion about -- the fact she was prepared for the questions about when to send the impeachment articles -- is that she pulled out a piece of paper and she had a list of things that she called, quote, "collateral benefit," the collateral benefit that she insists has happened by holding the articles of --