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Trump Attacks Romney & Pelosi During National Prayer Breakfast; Mixed Emotions over Romney Impeachment Vote; Soon, Pelosi to Speak After Impeachment Acquittal; Speaker Of The House, Nancy Pelosi, Holds A Press Conference. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 6, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.
The impeachment trial is over, but the fallout very clearly is not. President Trump is going to be speaking from the White House about all of this next hour after being acquitted by the Senate on both charges against him yesterday.
But he is not holding back until then, using his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning to try and settle scores. Attacking Republican Senator Mitt Romney. And even going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Not only is it somewhat out of tune, you could say, with the traditional theme of this bipartisan event highlighting fellowship and faith, but all the more awkward as Pelosi was sitting on the dais with the president at that very moment. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, "I pray for you," when they know that that's not so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So how will Speaker Pelosi respond now? We will soon find out. She's going to be holding a press conference speaking with reporters any moment. We'll bring that to you when she begins.
Let's start off, though, get to the White House. Kaitlan Collins is there.
Kaitlan, so what is going to -- if that's the preview of what we heard from the president just now, what we're about to hear from him in a few minutes, what is this going to look like today? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: People should brace
themselves for the new remarks because aides have said this is essentially a president who felt restrained over the last several weeks and now today at noon is his chance to hit back at this.
They expected he would hit back at Mitt Romney after he was the one Republican who broke and did vote for the first article of impeachment, but people did not predict the president would do so as the National Prayer Breakfast.
However, he made his anger pretty clear from the moment he walked in when he picked up those newspapers and in front of him that had the headline that said, one word, "Acquitted," and the president showed it to the crowd in the room.
Of course, at the National Prayer Breakfast, they have been hearing remarks from other speakers about agreeing with people who disagree with you politically and what not, the president did not seem to be in the same mood as others in the room.
And listen to what he said and how essentially this is likely going to be a preview of what he says at the White House in the next hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMPS: My family, our great country, and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and, by so doing, very badly hurt our nation.
They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Kate, you can see the president's anger.
I should note one thing that happened when I spoke with a source close to the president is they essentially said that Romney basically stole his thunder.
Because, instead of the news cycle today being solely focused on the president's acquittal, Romney with this vote, which you clearly saw him announce in that emotional exchange yesterday, is able to take the news cycle and make it about how this Republican broke and voted to convict a president of their own party from office.
And, apparently, the president was not pleased with that coverage.
Of course, we're likely to only hear more of that here at the White House in the next hour -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: It did seem, Kaitlan - there's no way of knowing unless the White House tells us -- but it did seem, when he was going after Romney and Nancy Pelosi, he was reading from a teleprompter. COLLINS: Yes. This seemed prepared. They believed the president was
going to be in quite a mood today, essentially starting with that prayer breakfast.
Whether or not those attacks were specifically in the prompter is still unclear, but he did appear to be reading from it and he didn't seem to be ad-libbing as much. as you note.
You can tell when the president is going off script. He didn't seem to be going off script there. And that is a script we expect him to stick to for quite a time.
BOLDUAN: So put another way, buckle up, friends, for today.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Kaitlan. We'll see you on the inside. Thanks so much.
Senator Romney fully expected blowback over his vote to convict President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. He said so from the Senate floor in explaining how he was going to vote.
Let's go there. CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.
Lauren, what are you hearing on the Hill now?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: The reaction yesterday, reacting to Mitt Romney's announcement on the floor, was really mixed. Democrats coming off the floor -- and I was standing there right after the speech -- were coming off with tears in their eyes, Kate.
It was a very emotional moment for many Democrats, who thought that no one in the Republican Party was going to vote with them to remove the president from office. It was a shocking and surprising moment.
But I will tell you that Republicans were also shocked and also surprised. Because their viewpoint was that they were going to hold together. Mitt Romney was essentially going to stick with the party, that there was no way he was going to vote the way he did, that eventually he would come around.
Even though, behind closed doors, he had made it very clear to his colleagues that he wanted more evidence, he wanted more witnesses. And they largely viewed that as just the new Senator trying to get this off of his chest.
We know now that, all along, the plan eventually was going to be for Mitt Romney to announce that he was going to support removing the president from office.
He did not come to that decision lightly. He came to that decision after hearing all of the arguments, after hearing all of the answers to the questions,
But he said his faith was bearing heavy on him, that essentially he viewed this as the right thing to do.
And I'll tell you that it is going to be a long road ahead. You cannot forget the fact that the president prizes loyalty above all else.
And at the end of the day, remember, when Senator John McCain voted against repealing health care, he was the deciding vote, and the president never forgot that. Even after Senator McCain passed away.
And that was a big moment of frustration for the Republican Party. Many of them got over it, but the president did not.
And I expect that that will largely be reflected in the way that Mitt Romney deals with the next, you know, year of the election moving forward -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: So, Lauren, stick with me if you would.
Again, to remind everyone, we're waiting for Nancy Pelosi to be speaking with the press conference. And in that, you can be sure. if she doesn't address it herself, she will be asked about what played out this morning and what the road is going ahead.
Lauren, sticking with me.
Let me also bring in CNN White House correspondent, John Harwood, and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, now a CNN political commentator.
Congressman, surprised by what has happened already this morning from the president? I'm sure you're not. But what is your reaction?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, my reaction is, yes, I am not surprised. But at a prayer breakfast. This is a time where they're there to talk about friendship and fellowship and what unites them.
And this would have been a perfect opportunity for the president to show some remorse and maybe atone for his wrongdoing.
Honest and honorable people can have a difference of opinion as to whether or not the president should have removed for his conduct. But I think everybody agrees, virtually everybody who can read, agrees that what he did was wrong.
And for the president to shamelessly attack, you know, Mitt Romney like this, it is despicable, and others who are going out to attack Mitt Romney, a perfectly honorable man.
And also to suggest that he shouldn't have invoked his faith. Well, people around town invoke their faith all the time to justify their actions. Their faith is part of who they are. I have not done that. Others do. I respect it.
Again, this is a really bad moment.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, I'm going to jump in. Speaker Pelosi has taken to the podium. Let's listen to what she has to say.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Presenting a state of mind that had no contact with reality whatsoever.
It was quite appalling to hear the president say that 150-, at least, million families in America that are faced with pre-existing medical conditions, a -- a benefit that is afforded to them in the Affordable Care Act, that he was protecting that benefit when, in fact, he has done everything to dismantle it. In fact, we are fighting him in the courts right now to preserve that benefit. That misrepresentation was appalling and so clearly untrue.
And next, he talked about pre- -- another issue of concern to (inaudible) working families, the issue of the cost of prescription drugs. As I've said to you before, I've seen grown men cry across the country when it comes to the fact that they cannot afford their prescription drugs and meet their other obligations to their families. And we had talked about negotiating for lower prices. That's the only way you're going to get lower prices. During the campaign, the president said he was going to negotiate like crazy. I think "like crazy" means maybe not at all. I've said that to you before, because the president's statements have sent Pharma stocks soaring, and for him to represent that he was working on that -- we had been working on it. We were hopeful to get something done. I guess Pharma must have stepped in.
And then he talked about saving Medicare -- Medicare -- Medicare and Social Security when, in fact, in his budget, the 220 budget that he submitted -- two -- $2 trillion was decreased in Medicare and Medicaid combined.
Including to -- in terms of Social Security, reduced the disability benefit in Social Security.
So these, one after another, right to the kitchen table of America's working families to serve up these falsehoods, when appalling, also, was when he was trying to discredit the triumph of the Obama administration on the economy, and I've given you out a -- a -- a paper on this put out by the Joint Economic Committee under leadership of Don Beyer, our health vice chair on that, and it talks about all the things, job creation and the rest.
But to succinctly put it, when President Obama came into office the unemployment rate was 10 percent. When he left, it was 5 percent. So President Trump did not inherit a mess, he inherited a momentum of job creation.
When President Obama came into office, the stock market was at 6,000. When he left, it was at 18,000. Again momentum that the administration was able to build on, not a mess.
The -- during the eight years of the Obama -- President Obama's presidency he reduced the deficit by a trillion dollars. Instead, this administration is increasing the trillion dollars, and of course, with their tax cut, their tax scam, the 83 percent of benefits going to the top one percent, they increased the national debt by $2 trillion, and therefore, they tried to pay -- it's supposed to pay for itself, but instead, they went to Medicare and Medicaid to try to pay for that, but we're not doing that.
And then during -- during the eight years of President -- when President Bush was president the job growth was slow. Under President Obama we gained more than 14 million private sector jobs, and during his presidency, more than -- and -- and that is far more in a prorated, in terms of years, than what this president has created. A -- a momentum, a path of $14 million is not a mess, Mr. President.
And then, during his presidency we rescued the auto industry and all that that brought back to the economy, and during the administration more than 20 million people were afforded quality affordable health care, but more -- in -- in addition to that, 150 million families with pre-existing conditions got a new benefit that enabled them to have access to health care, as well as other benefits of no lifetime and no annual limit; child is, up until 26 years old can stay on your benefit; being a woman, no longer pre-existing condition (ph).
So when he talks about, "Oh, I'm going to make health care (inaudible)," the fact is he did not -- he did not inherit a mess. He inherited momentum of growth in our economy, and many more statistics are in the -- what I hope you will read, because it was appalling to hear him try to take credit for something that he -- and call what the (ph) President Obama did a mess that he inherited when, in fact, it was a great advantage to the country that President Obama's policies took us to that very positive place of growth and of job creation and deficit reduction.
When I talk to my members and they have ideas, I always say, "What does your idea do for growth, to -- for creation of good-paying jobs and reducing the deficit? Let's see how it meets those standards." What the president has done is not that.
And so for him to make it as if he did all this stuff along the way (ph) -- he still hasn't even met President Obama's growth in the stock market, if you call that a -- a -- a real measure of success. And -- and in some respects, it's a good indicator, but it's not an indicator of what is happening at the kitchen tables of America's working families, where they're concerned about the fact that many of them have not received a raise in a very long time; that 40 (ph) percent of them could not find $500 for an emergency. President goes on in saying, "Oh, it's -- many more -- because of all my growth, many more people are not on food stamps." No, you kicked them off. (inaudible) people are not taking advantage of this. No, you kicked them off, and that just isn't a fair thing to do in our economy.
So it was a -- in my view, a manifesto of -- of mistruths, of falsehoods blatantly, really, dangerous to the wellbeing of the American people if they believed what he said. So again, we do not want the chamber of the House of Representatives to be used as a backdrop for one of his reality shows with unreality in his presentation. And by the way, a serious breach to start shouting, "Four more years" on the floor of the House -- totally inappropriate.
We're very excited about how we're going forward to honor our promises to the American people. For the people we're going to lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and we're on our path with H.R. 3; so people holding up the three, (ph) H.R. 3. Maybe just three benefits from -- (ph) that people should know that it will lower the cost of prescription drugs for them. It will also increase benefits in Medicare, dental, hearing and visual -- vision in the expansion of Medicare, which is the biggest expansion since its inception; that that benefit will apply to not only Medicare -- the -- the reduction in cost will not only apply to Medicare, but to all of the insurance plans for -- for prescription drugs. We're very excited about H.R. 3. Lower health care costs by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and protecting the preexisting medical conditions benefit.
Secondly, bigger paychecks, building the infrastructure of America in a green, resilient way. We thought we were in a good place on both of those scores with the president because we had negotiated with the White House on H.R. 3 until the president decided to go with Pharma instead of with the American people.
We thought we were in a good path in negotiating with the administration on what the infrastructure bill would contain. Last night he talked about rural broadband. He didn't even know what that was when we were first talking about it. He said, "Just roads and stuff." No, no, roads, bridges, water, broadband and the rest.
And so bigger paychecks by (inaudible). We talked about some (inaudible) plan. He sent over a $200 billion plan which he then said is a bad plan. It is. It's too small; put too much burden on the localities.
So we had really important -- and then, of course, our third agenda: lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. We think we have a shot with him on the first two, but not on the third, cleaner government. No, that's not something that they -- they, he or the Republicans have as a value.
So yesterday, the Senate acted (ph); first time in history that a senator has voted against his own president in a -- a decision regarding impeachment. God bless him for his courage. This morning the president said, "When president -- people use faith as an excuse to do --" I don't know if he said bad things, but whatever he said. It was just so completely inappropriate, especially at a prayer breakfast.
So again, we will be expanding our -- what we talked about before about our infrastructure bill, surface transportation, water systems, broadband, rural broadband, urban desert broadband, very important to health, education, commerce and the rest for our country. And then we'll go further with our initiatives on infrastructure for -- for school construction and some housing initiatives and initiatives that relate to our -- the needs of -- of our veterans. We'll be unfolding some of that in the week ahead.
So we continue, continue, continue to do our work, 275 or more bipartisan bills on Mitch McConnell's desk. The Grim Reaper has not taken any of them up. If he had one, I wish he would do -- I have my bullet here. I wish he would do background check legislation, which would save lives. So it is an interesting time as we go forward.
PELOSI: We'll also be taking up, in the -- in the next week, the ERA, the legislation related to the ERA, and there's a great deal of excitement across the country. You see what happened in Virginia, and we're hoping move the date to include that -- that new state in that number, to promote women, and especially in this year, when we observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote.
I know what you're going to say, Chad. What happened to the 49ers?
QUESTION: I'll -- I'll ask that at the end.
PELOSI: But just -- when you're thinking of it, think about your own team, OK?
QUESTION: Well, we're back at the first round draft.
Well, there's always that. There's always that.
QUESTION: Madam Speaker...
PELOSI: Yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: I just -- you just mentioned things like prescription drugs and infrastructure.
QUESTION: What do you think is the likelihood of being able to work with President Trump on these things, given what at least appears to be a strained relationship between you?
PELOSI: Well, we've had a strained relationship for a while and we were able to keep government open and push back on his threats to shut down government if we didn't do this and we didn't do that, and that's right.
And I was very proud of the work, in a bipartisan way, of our appropriators. Left to their own devices, you've heard me say, they can really work things out. And we did, and we pushed back on any threats of shutdown. So we worked together on that.
We worked together on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He bragged about delivering it. I don't know if he even knows what's in it because it's so far different of whatever he sent us to begin with. But it does have what I've said to you many times; it does have a framework of enforcement for protection of our workers, protection of our environment and getting rid of his gift to pharma.
Imagine he had a gift to Pharma in that -- in that trade agreement. Well, we kick -- kicked that out, just another example of his beholdenness this to the pharmaceutical industry.
So we -- we got two major things accomplished. These are things the president said he wanted to do, reduce the cost of prescription drugs and build the infrastructure, during the campaign, especially infrastructure. I hardly ever had a conversation with him when he wasn't talking about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. I think he really wants that. I think he knows our country needs that, and I hope that we -- we were almost there and the -- it was time to pay for it, and then he was, like, out the door.
QUESTION: So you don't think anything's changed because of impeachment? You think you'll still be able to...
PELOSI: Well, that would be up to him. It certainly hasn't changed in terms of us. As people said to me, "Why would you give him a victory on the trade agreement?"
I said it's not a victory for him. Not to do that for the benefit it provides for our farmers, our manufacturers, our workers in our country, our hemisphere, I think, would be wrong. I mean, he just wasn't that important that we would walk away from what they were conceding to us -- what they were conceding to us in that legislation.
If we didn't get what we want, we couldn't go that path, but we did.
Now, did we get everything? No, it was a negotiation. But it's a path to much better trade agreements, and I'm pleased we did it.
QUESTION: Madam Speaker?
QUESTION: Madam Speaker?
QUESTION: Madam Speaker?
PELOSI: Yes, Chad?
QUESTION: Thank you. Good morning. The White House communications director has indicated that you -- that the president and maybe others in the administration may want to have some payback for what -- the impeachment and what the Senate did here.
When you hear that sort of language -- and as we speak, the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating a suspicious package (inaudible) substance in the office of Congressman Schiff.
PELOSI: Well, I don't think that has anything to do with the White House.
QUESTION: But that said -- but when you hear that rhetoric from the White House and these types of environments, I mean -- I mean, what does that make you think?
PELOSI: Well, let me just say that that language is -- first of all, the whole State of the Union was beneath the dignity of the White House, an insult to the Congress of the United States and the American people.
So their language is nothing that surprises anyone. But they have to know, when the White House speak, those words weigh a ton, and they are giving encouragement to people to do things -- just as, remember Charlottesville. People were coming down that hill with tiki torches saying, "The Jews will not replace us. The Jews will not replace us." And what was the president's statement? There are good people on both sides. Really? The Jews will not replace us, there are good people on both sides?
So they -- there's a mysterious view that they have about what their words, the weight their words carry. And there are people out there who, for whatever purpose -- I know I'm constantly -- I'm not -- I don't even want to go into it, the target that I am because of them, but I can't worry about that. That was there even before them, just working with President Obama stirred up some of those same people.
But the -- I -- I would like to think that it had nothing to do with what the White House was saying. But I do think they should rein in their comments. Because what they're saying is, there are (ph) going to be payback to us for upholding the Constitution of the United States, for honoring the vision of our founders, for a democracy, a republic, if we can keep it.
For something that our men and women in uniform fight to protect, our freedom, our Constitution and the aspirations of our children that depend on living in a democracy that is unquestioned in terms of that. Will we have freedom of the press? To be guardians of that democracy.
So you know, I'm not very fond of commenting on anything they say. But if it's threatening, it's wrong.
QUESTION: Several members of the various House investigation committees have indicated that they would like to subpoena John Bolton. What's your position on that? And when should it happen?
PELOSI: I want to first salute our managers. I think they did a magnificent job in presenting the case for our founders, for our Constitution, for our country. We could not have been better served, each and every one of them did a magnificent job and Adam Schiff's leadership was a blessing to our country.
I'm proud of the work that the Senate did, in terms of their response to all of this, and their -- the unanimous vote on the House Democrats in support of our Constitution.
We are now -- the Senate has spoken in terms of any punishment to the president. He's impeached forever, no matter what he says or whatever headlines he wants to carry around. You're impeached forever, you're never getting rid of that scar. And history will always record that you were impeached for undermining the security of our country, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections and violating the Constitution of the United States.
Our purpose in all of this, in addition to holding him accountable -- so he stops doing what he's doing, and no future president thinks that she or he could have liberty to take us away from a republic, if you can keep it, to a Second Amendment enables me to do whatever I want? No, that's not what our Constitution is about.
So we will continue to do our oversight, to protect and defend the Constitution, which is three coequal branches of government, each a check and balance on the other. And some -- we have some cases in court now, McGahn (ph) and taxes and that. And that will take time.
We didn't need to have that come to a fruition with -- because we had a strong enough case to impeach and remove. But those cases still exist. If there are others that we see as an opportunity, we'll make a judgment at that time. But we have no plans right now.
PELOSI: Yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: Could you describe what you were thinking this morning as the president said that impeachment was a terrible ordeal, put through by corrupt dishonest people, by which he meant you and other Democrats? And also, his suggestion that you don't actually pray (ph) (inaudible).
PELOSI: I don't know if the president understands about prayer or people who do pray. But we do pray for the United States of America, I pray for him, President Bush still, President Obama. Because it's a heavy responsibility.
And I pray hard for him because he's so off the track of our Constitution, our values, our country, the air our children breathe, the water they drink and the rest. He really needs our prayers.
So he can say whatever he wants, he can say whatever he wants. But I do pray for him, and I do so sincerely and without anguish (ph), you know, I gently -- just the way I pray for everybody else.
I thought what he said about -- what he said about Senator Romney was particularly without class. What did he say, there are some people who use faith as an excuse to do the wrong thing, is that -- you remember what he said about Romney, you got that there?
What, what? It's so inappropriate at a prayer breakfast (ph). You want to go to the Prayer Breakfast, prayer (ph) the school vouchers, a woman's right to choose, all those things that that's a ripe (ph) audience for? God bless you, that's -- it's a prayer breakfast. And that's something about faith. You know, it may not be something I agree with, but it's appropriate.
But to go into the stock market and raising up his acquittal thing and mischaracterizing other people's motivation? He's talking about things that he knows little about: faith and prayer.
PELOSI: Yes, Matt (ph)?
QUESTION: You often counsel your members to be dignified in their response...
QUESTION: ... high (inaudible). Did you step on that message by tearing up the speech (ph)...
PELOSI: No, I did not. No, I did not. I tore up a manifesto of mistruths. It's very hard for us to get you to talk about the issues that we are working on, H.R. 3, infrastructure, and the rest. He misrepresented all of that. It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, this is not true. And this is how it affects you.
PELOSI: And I don't need any lessons from anybody, especially the president of the United States, about dignity, dignity. Is it OK to start saying "Four more years" in the House of Representatives? I mean, it's just unheard-of. Is it unheard-of for the president to insult people there who don't share his view as well as to misrepresent -- present falsehoods -- some would use the word "lie"; I don't like to use the word "lie" -- about what he is saying?