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State of the Union
President And First Lady Arrive At Windsor Castle To Meet Queen Elizabeth; President Biden Previews Wednesday's Summit With Putin In Geneva; Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) About Various Legislations And Issues. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 13, 2021 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: But that was just before her reign even though he was in power when her reign began. So she's actually met 13 presidents, and she also met President Hoover after he had left office. So this is someone that's seen everyone on the world stage.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Amazing. All smiles and fist bumps there at Windsor. CNN's coverage continues now with Dana Bash and "STATE OF THE UNION."
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Dana Bash in Washington where the state of our union is poised for royal pomp and circumstance.
At this hour President Biden and the first lady are about to participate in a time-honored tradition, private meeting with the Queen, with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. You are seeing live pictures there of the Bidens who just arrived. He is the 13th president, the 13th U.S. president to have an audience with Queen Elizabeth starting with President Harry Truman in 1951.
That is certainly a potential ice breaker given the fact that President Biden has met eight other U.S. presidents himself. Of course, this will be bitter sweet for Queen Elizabeth because this will be first meeting she will have with a U.S. president without her husband of 70 years, Prince Philip, who of course passed away in April.
Now the president just left or leaves for the NATO summit and sits down for a face-to-face meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin after this. But before we get let's, as we watch these pictures, I want to bring in our panel to discuss all things royal and pomp and circumstance.
Let me start on the ground there, Max Foster. You were at Windsor Castle. What's happening right now?
FOSTER: So we've got the -- I can't see the pictures currently but the president has just arrived in his helicopter and he's heading down to the quadrangle where you can see Grenadier guards lined up. These are guards that work very closely actually with American troops on various operations around the world but they also head up the ceremonial operations here at Windsor and at Buckingham Palace. So there's going to be a royal salute when the president arrives. He's going to be welcomed.
There is this Guard of Honor, the national anthems for both countries will play, and then the president will be invited to inspect the guard. You'll remember there was a bit of difficulty last time this happened with President Trump. He walked in front of the Queen.
And that wasn't actually his fault. The Queen was a bit unclear about what was happening at that point as well. It's the first time she had been to one of these events without Prince Philip actually when President Trump was here. He normally leads on these events.
So, you know, President Biden is very experienced player on the world stage. He has a huge amount of respect for protocol. I don't expect anything to sort of go wrong here. And this I think is a big personal moment for him. As you were suggesting, he's studied presidential history.
And this is a direct link to all those other presidents who had that photo or had that moment with the Queen. And I think he'll really enjoy it. I know that Jill Biden was talking about very much looking forward to this moment as well.
BASH: I would imagine so. And here at the table, Kate Bennett, I want to start with you. You know, the president tells a story in his memoirs about how he was preparing for his very first audience with the Queen as a young senator. His mother, who of course is of Irish heritage told him, quote, "Don't bow down to her."
How much does the fact that he is a proud Irish American play into this?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think quite a great deal. Of course it's his heritage, he's so proud of it. He talks about it all the time. But I think you're in the Queen's house now. This is her turf. There are protocol steps that need to be followed. And certainly I think that will take a primary place ahead of his own background in this sense.
BASH: And there we see the Queen coming, getting ready to greet the president and the first lady.
Sally Bedell Smith, you are an author, you wrote a book about the queen, "Elizabeth the Queen." Talk about this moment.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for her, you know, it's her 13th sitting president that she's met. And what she does invariably is she makes whomever she greets and sits down with comfortable. She may well have one of her yorkies with her.
We don't know. But she's always used yorkies as ice breakers. She will find points in common that they have. For example, President and Mrs. Biden's son Beau was a serving member of the military. He served in Iraq. That will be a bond, the fact that he served for two terms under the
Obamas, will be a point of conversation I'm sure. She will have many, many entry points for conversations with him. She had a really good relationship with the Obamas who also, by the way, came to Windsor Castle.
BASH: Yes, they did.
SMITH: There'll be plenty for them to talk about and it will be very easy.
BASH: I believe this is the -- according to royal communications, this will be the fifth meeting that the Queen will have with U.S. presidents since President and Mrs. Reagan.
Max, I want to bring you in there at Windsor Castle. Forgive me. I just don't want to talk over any of the protocols and the pomp and circumstance that we want to watch and listen to. But, Max, the U.K., just like the U.S. and countries all over the world, has been in lockdown. This is the first meeting that the Queen will have face-to- face since the pandemic began.
FOSTER: And Prince Edward spoke just last week about how this period has been very difficult of the Queen. Of course, she's had the issue as well with the Sussexes as well have been a very difficult time on her own. Then with Prince Philip passing as well. So this is the Queen very much showing that she carries on no matter what, and she's always prioritized these visits with visiting U.S. presidents.
America isn't part of the commonwealth, but it is a very important partner to the United Kingdom and she's always prioritized it. So we're hearing some music playing here. The key moments, not to speak over probably, Dana, are the national anthems. Remember, a few years ago, President Obama spoke over a national anthem which is seen as a big faux pas. There are all sorts of protocols and it can be very intimidating in these moments.
But actually what's always a priority for the Queen is that the guest feels comfortable. So he's not expected to bow. He is a head of state like her. He's not a British subject. They are of equal status. He's not expected to bow. But if he does bow, she will obviously accept that. The main event probably will be inside when they have this chat over tea. And there's all sorts of protocols around tea as well, which we'll probably be able to tell you about as well.
But I think this is really a personal moment for President Biden. He can get that photo. There will be a photo inside, just one still photograph. And that's the photo which will appear on his mantlepiece I'm sure. For the moment we're going to see the guards really preparing for the arrival.
You can see the president coming in in his motorcade. He'll be greeted by the Queen, and then he will be -- there will be the national anthems, then he'll be invited to inspect the troops which the commanding officer will help him through so we won't have any issues like we had last time with President Trump.
BASH: And, Sally, Max talked about this, and as we watch the cars pulling up and as soon as we see them get out we'll stop and watch. The fact that Prince Philip is not there. After 70 years of marriage and being by her side through all of her -- never mind her life, but ceremonies like this.
SMITH: I know. And that quadrangle of course very recently was the scene of his funeral. And -- but you know he retired in 2017.
BASH: Sally, I'm going to interrupt you. I apologize. Let's pause and watch and listen.
(PLAYING OF THE "STAR SPANGLED BANNER")
(GUARD OF HONOR CEREMONY)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guard of Honor, by the right, quick march.
BASH: OK. We're watching the president of the United States and the first lady finishing quite an arrival, only the kind that the Queen of the U.K. can allow and can invite at Windsor Castle. And now they are walking in -- shortly they will be walking into Windsor Castle to have a private audience, to have tea with the Queen herself.
I'm still with Kate Bennett and Sally Bedell Smith.
So, let's start with you, Kate. What were your takeaways watching that?
BENNETT: I mean, it was a far more sort of friendly -- and I don't want to put the word casual in because it's certainly not casual. It's very ceremonial. But the Bidens have a way about them that is relaxed and friendly. And I think the Queen responded to that. There was no curtsy from the first lady. There was no bow. There doesn't need to be. They're not subject. However, I thought it was friendly.
You know, this is the culmination of what has been by the royal a very charm offensive, if you will, the G7. They rolled out their big guns for the reception the other night in Cornwall with the Prince of Wales, the Dutchess of Cornwall, Kate and William, and now -- and the Queen, and now meeting the Queen here again. So certainly the royals are having a moment, too, with this American visit and using it as well to I think help bolster that relationship, that special relationship between the two countries. But it was great to see.
I mean, listen, this is a tradition. We're looking at a Queen who's lost her husband. We're looking at a new president and first lady. There's a lot going on there behind the scenes. I would love to be a fly on the wall for the tea. BASH: Well, Sally Bedell Smith, you may not be a fly on the wall, but
somehow you were able to talk to a lot of flies that are on those walls in the past. I'm interested in what Kate said, it's such a great point, that this was a charm offensive by the royals.
BASH: Not just here but earlier, the fact that they had that reception. This was the place, Windsor Castle, where that fairytale wedding happened in 2018 between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
BASH: And how much of the charm offensive is because of what we've all seen over the past month or two?
SMITH: I think it's deeper than that. Windsor Castle, by the way, is what the Queen considers her home. So she will treat them as if she is in her home. I think we should watch this space because the soft power of the royal family is not to be underestimated.
And I was watching very closely the body language between Jill Biden and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and I wouldn't be surprised, if I could put a bet, I will bet that the Cambridges will be here sometime in the next year to year and a half for an official visit because they haven't been to Washington. And I would also bet that they will bring their three children.
And, you know, you talk about an event that would solidify or further solidify the relationship between the royal family and the American president, and they are -- you know, they are really, really going like gangbusters. They are really popular. They're doing a great job.
BASH: I'm going to --
SMITH: And I think -- and so I think we could see that, you know, as a next step. I will make that -- I'll go out on a limb.
BASH: Yes. I was just going to say, I am definitely not taking that bet.
Max Foster there at Windsor Castle, you know, maybe you do have flies on the wall that you're talking to in there, but you do know the protocols. What happens now? Now they're behind closed doors, they're having tea. What does that mean?
FOSTER: Well, I speak to a younger son last week and I was asking him exactly the very same question because of it's an absolute lockdown secret. What happens is, these are absolutely private affairs. And they wouldn't work if they weren't that. It's an opportunity for, you know, the longest serving head of state, arguably the most revered head of state, to be able to sit down and have a frank conversation. And it will be up to the Bidens to decide what they want to talk about. We saw a similar -- the last visit with President Trump was an
interesting one because there was all this commotion around Brexit. The government was in real trouble and this is when they deployed the Queen. You heard there, Sally talking about her soft power.
It's a key diplomatic tool for the British government because if there are any stresses or strains on the political front, in G7 we had some problems down there in relation to Northern Ireland in particular, you can then bring in the Queen who is above all of that and can give this honored guest a very special moment.
And the key part of that for President Biden will be the photo. So only one still photo will be taken inside. Apart from that, we don't know what will happen, apart from this tea that they'll be having and they'll be discussing whatever they like really.
But I just -- before I go, I just want to give some kudos to the Grenadier Guards there before they haven't been able to rehearse that properly because of all the protocols around COVID. They're very focused on the funeral recently. They're deeply involved in that.
And they've also been involved in the big deployments around testing in the U.K. And it was a big moment for them actually because they worked very closely with U.S. troops in Iraq in particular. I know that they were very much looking forward to being inspected by the U.S. president as well.
BASH: Yes. The Grenadier Guards, according to the Royal Press Office, they are one of the British Army's longest serving units. So fascinating. Thank you all for coming on. I appreciate it.
And up next, the hardest part of President Biden's trip is still to come. Stay with us.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
As we speak, President Biden is inside Windsor Castle meeting with Queen Elizabeth on his first foreign trip. Joe Biden is now the 13th U.S. president to meet with the Queen. The president also spent about 30 minutes earlier today talking to reporters at the end of the G7 Summit. He called it an extraordinary, collaborative and productive meeting. But the hardest part of his trip is yet to come.
Joining me live from Brussels is CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
So, Jeff, how did President Biden preview that meeting he's going to have with Vladimir Putin?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, President Biden said that, you know, he's been pointing out throughout this whole trip here that he believes democracies are -- still hold the power in this world. And that is what he is hoping to really frame a stark contrast with when he meets Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. And this is all choreographed. His trip is entirely. First the G7 now indeed the meeting with the Queen.
He'll be here in Brussels this evening meeting with NATO and the E.U. and then going to Geneva, Switzerland, for that meeting with Vladimir Putin. And that, again, is by design, to show in his view that democracies he believes are the driving force, a force for good, a force for action. Interestingly, the White House is not going to be holding a joint press conference. So we will not see President Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin standing side-by-side on Wednesday after their melting.
And the President Biden explained why. He said that each side can sort of explain the meeting, can make their case for what happens. But I'm told privately that White House officials simply do not want to elevate Vladimir Putin. They do not want, you know, to have him next to the president to talk about the summit. Everyone remembers the images from 2018, of course, when former president Donald Trump, you know, essentially agreed with and bowed to the Russian president in Helsinki.
So that is something that they, of course, do not want to repeat. But he was also asked -- President Biden was also asked if he believes that he can actually change Putin's actions and mind. And he said changing character is very difficult. So he is walking into this meeting really with almost no expectations, and certainly low expectations of doing anything to change Putin's behavior.
But he does want to have that one-on-one direct meeting and confrontation to sort of reset the relations and show Mr. Putin that President Biden is in charge here. So this certainly will be an interesting meeting to watch. So this trip filled with pomp, pageantry, policy and, of course, Wednesday, the most complicated politics of all, dealing with Russia -- Dana.
BASH: Jeff, thank you so much for that reporting.
And now I want to bring in Susan Glasser. And Susan, you spent time reporting on and from inside Russia for a long time. So talk about what you're seeing ahead of that meeting and the way that the U.S. president is trying to manage expectations.
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's right. I think that, you know, certainly in one way he has an easy job of it in the sense that Donald Trump has set a pretty low bar to jump over if your goal is to say I looked Putin in the eye and I talked tough with him, well, that's going to be easy. Just the other day you had Trump, in fact, reminding us how much he had a bizarre affinity for the Russian leader, saying I liked him, he liked me, what's the problem with that?
So in that sense Biden, you know, is going to communicate a clear message of getting tough. Remember that Vladimir Putin, although he is an autocrat, also has politics of his own. And I think the fact that they're not going to have a joint press conference is a reminder that both Putin and Biden will be able then to essentially sell their own version, their own narrative of this meeting to their own domestic constituencies.
So Vladimir Putin can say, well, I was tough, you know, and look at me, I'm respected on the world stage and, you know, I'm going toe to toe with the American adversary and the West is declining. And then you'll have Joe Biden saying basically the exact opposite. Remember that this is the fifth American president who has had to deal with Vladimir Putin. He's already been in power longer than any Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.
And, you know, Putin knows exactly what he's doing. He appreciates and wants to be seen and respected as an equal on the world stage. But at the same time, he will make trouble. He will find a way to get under the skin of the Americans.
As Fiona Hill, who was in the room the last time this American leader Donald Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, she said to me, you know, it's like the boys who are desperate to sit with girls in the school lunchroom but then they spend the whole time kicking them under the table.
BASH: That is some real imagery that everybody, no matter what language you speak, I think can relate to.
Susan Glasser, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it.
And while the president is overseas, here at home his priorities from infrastructure to voting rights have run smack into the reality of a 50-50 Senate. And late this week, a stunning new revelation prompted an uproar on Capitol Hill and beyond. We learned that the Trump Justice Department seized cell phone data from the now former president's political enemies, their families and sitting members of Congress.
And joining me now exclusively is the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Thank you so much. It's nice to see you in person.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Good morning.
BASH: As we come out of the pandemic. I want to start where I just left off, and the news about the Justice Department during the Trump administration, subpoenaed Apple for data from Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, their staff, some of their families. So, do you know how many members had their data subpoenaed? Any subpoena for you or from you or your staff?
PELOSI: Well, good morning. Congratulations to you on the show.
BASH: Thank you. PELOSI: And before I answer that, I just want to say I'm wearing
orange because this is the color of Gun Violence Prevention. Last night while we were having a moment much silence for those 49 people who were victims of the Pulse assault, other mass shootings were happening across the country. So, as we talk about all these issues, about infrastructure and about commission and about data mining and the rest, every day, every morning, every night, we are not forgetting these victims.
When I visited Pulse at the time of the shooting, the families came together and said, stop this from happening. When they visited Washington following that horrible thing, they said, stop this from happening for other people's families to go through what we're going.
That was from the families and then some of the victims who survived that. So, again, for us, we are not going away until we can get legislation passed. We have in the House, hopefully in the Senate. It's bipartisan in the nation that we would have background checks to prevent guns from getting in the hands of those who should not have them.
Now, will that cover everything? No, but it goes a very long way, and it prevented millions of gun purchases not to happen up until now. Now we have to expand it to include Internet sales and gun shows and the rest.
BASH: And you've done your job on that in the House. The question is the 50-50 Senate.
PELOSI: But I can tell you, this is like our prayer morning and night and our actions all day. So I can't go even to talk about anything else.
PELOSI: Without saying that death in these families it just has -- deaths in these families must stop. So in terms of the data mining, what the Republicans -- what the administration did, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former president, goes even beyond Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon had an enemies list. This is about undermining the rule of law. And for this attorneys general, Barr and Sessions, at least two, to say they didn't know anything about it is beyond belief.
So we will have to have them come under oath to testify about that. Now, how could it be that undermining the rule of law, undermining the separation of power of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and having these just data mining is something new in terms of where technology has taken us, but not new in terms of something that should never have happened.
BASH: Do you think it's limited, just to the members --
PELOSI: We don't know. That's why we'll have to -- of course, the inspector general's report is very important, but it is not a substitute for what we must do in the Congress. And I know that the Senate has called for some review. We will certainly have that in the House of Representatives.
BASH: So, you said that both the former Attorney General Barr and Sessions, they have said that they didn't know anything about this. So has Rod Rosenstein.
PELOSI: Rod Rosenstein as well.
BASH: Who was the deputy attorney general. If you don't see them voluntarily on Capitol Hill, will you subpoena them?
PELOSI: Well, let's hope that they will want to honor the rule of law. This is -- the Justice Department has been rogue under President Trump, understand that, in so many respects. This is just another manifestation of their rogue activity.
The others were perpetrated by the attorneys general, but this is one that they claim no knowledge of. How could it be that there could be an investigation of members on the other branch of government and the press and the rest, too, and the attorneys general did not know?
So who are these people? And are they still in the Justice Department? And, again, this is just out of the question no matter who is president, whatever party, this cannot be the way it goes.
BASH: Let's turn to infrastructure?
BASH: A group of five Democrats, five Republican senators, they have a deal that they say is $1.2 trillion, about $600 billion in new spending. That's more than Republicans were offering, but that's, of course, less than President Biden wanted. I know a lot of the details are still being worked out, but they're also saying no new taxes. So a combination of no new taxes to pay for it and about $1.2 trillion, is that something in the ballpark that you would agree with?
PELOSI: Well, I'm very pleased that they came to their agreement, of course. President of the United States is a major factor in this, and he has said he would not support any taxes on people making under $400,000 a year, and that includes increasing the gas tax, which I think may be part of their arrangement. Well, we haven't seen it, but that was what was thought to be in the plan for a source of funds.
We certainly know that there's money to be had by at least making people pay their taxes. I'm not even talking about those who abuse the system. I'm just talking about those who illegally do not pay their taxes specifically. And -- so let's see. I mean, I haven't seen it. You're announcing this. I do think that it is predicated on an infrastructure that is of the last century. We have to be thinking in a more forward way.
We must build back better. So, if this is something that can be agreed upon, I don't know how we can possibly sell it -- excuse me -- to our caucus unless we know there is more to come.
PELOSI: And the more to come and building back better means having more people participate in the prosperity of our country.
BASH: So while you take a drink, I'll ask you this question. What I hear you saying is that this could be something you would agree to as long as you get some kind of promise for a second bite at the apple.
PELOSI: Well, as Congress works its will, we'll just see what the possibilities are. This is one step. I have heard the president say -- I'm proud of him, what a unifier, I'm so proud of him overseas now saying we're back. But I've heard him say with the Republicans in the room, let's figure out what we can agree on on infrastructure. Let's see if we can come to a reasonable amount of money to get that work done.
But I have no intention of abandoning the rest of my vision about the better -- building back better. What is being talked about in this is by and large something that could have been talked about 50 years ago. We're talking about the future.
BASH: So do you have faith in Republicans?
PELOSI: Oh, I have faith.
BASH: That they are negotiating in good faith?
PELOSI: I assume that the Democrats who are negotiating with them have faith in them. I think we always have to believe -- I think we have a responsibility -- let me say it a different way -- to find common ground if we can. But if we can't, we have to stand our ground, but we have to understand that if we can come to terms in a bipartisan way, that would be -- I think the public wants to see that.
Now in some areas the Republicans not only do not want to come together, they want to push back further, witness HR-1 and other issues we may talk about. Well, the infrastructure has always been bipartisan. It's never -- I mean, it's always been let's see how we can work together for our communities. Let's find agreement in the communities as to what is important.
BASH: Right. And some Republicans, a lot of Republicans say that when it comes to bricks and mortar, roads and bridges, traditional infrastructure, that's fine. But when you talk about new government programs for child care, for elderly care, that's where they say no.
PELOSI: Well, you know, I don't know -- I think, on the other hand, in different settings they talk about childcare being important, and it is, and it is. And we have a very strong commitment. And our women's caucus especially wants us to go as big as we can on childcare.
And home health care. And family and medical leave. All of these things that enable, not just women, but people -- dads and moms and caregivers to be able to participate in the work force and to honor the work that is done by caregivers, to respect what they do, to adequately train for it, and to pay for it.
BASH: So let's talk about -- you mentioned HR-1.
BASH: That is, what we call HR-1, what people should know it is --
BASH: It is rewriting a major rewrite of the election law. It's now in the Senate. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin says, point blank, he doesn't support it. I want to read part of an op-ed he wrote last week. He wrote, "I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason I will vote against the 'For the People Act,'" which is HR-1. So when Democrats literally don't have one vote to spare and you read that from Joe Manchin, how are you going to get it passed?
PELOSI: I don't give up on Joe Manchin. When he was governor and secretary of state in West Virginia, he initiated many of the ideas that are in HR-1, S-1, the "For the People Act." For the people. And it's not necessarily a rewriting. It's stopping.
The first 300 pages of S-1, the "For the People Act," HR-1, were written by John Lewis, to stop the voter suppression. It's an initiative that is there to stop partisan gerrymandering and redistricting. It's really essential for the health of our country.
Democrats shouldn't be gerrymandering and Republicans shouldn't. The commission piece in there is very important, and that would be new. The stopping the big dark special interest money from suffocating the airwaves. Why do you think we cannot have climate language that is easy to come to agreement? Why do you think we do not have gun violence protection? It's because of that big dark money, and the public knows. It knows that that money stands in the way of good policy. And, again, to give voice to small donors and the grassroots.
BASH: So a lot of that is the part that Senator Manchin says that he doesn't support doing right now. You said that you don't --
PELOSI: I read the op-ed, and you read part of it.
PELOSI: I think he left the door open. I think it's ajar. I'm not giving up.
BASH: Well, and I wanted to ask you about that because you're not just reading an op-ed. You have a relationship with him.
PELOSI: Yes. BASH: Is there something that you know that we don't know? Or a lot of
people in your caucus who were really upset don't know about Joe Manchin and the possibility of getting this election reform through the Senate?
PELOSI: Well, I don't know anything specific about this, but I do know that he has certain concerns about the legislation that we may be able to come to terms on.
BASH: So it's bridgeable?
PELOSI: I think -- as I said to him, I read the op-ed. You left the door open and we can go right in.
BASH: Oh, you talked to him about it?
PELOSI: Of course, yes. But we were -- actually our conversations were more about the commission and in the course of that conversation. But in any case, let's just put this in its proper place. Our democracy is at stake. What the Republicans are doing across the country, even since we wrote -- this is -- we've had this in the election of 2018. A hundred candidates wrote and said, make "For the People," HR-1, the first order of business.
And now we see under the administration further work, the former administration and the Republicans across the country are undermining our democracy, suppressing the vote, ignoring the sanctity of the vote, which is the basis for our democracy. And so we cannot let that stand. We have to make this fight for our democracy. It isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's not about partisanship. Forget that. It's about patriotism. We must pass this.
BASH: Speaking of democracy, I've always wanted to ask you this question. You're the speaker of the House. I know you like to stay in your lane and not cross over to the Senate, but, you know, a lot of people in your caucus say the entire Democratic agenda is being held up because of the filibuster. Do you think the filibuster should go away?
PELOSI: Well, you know what, as you know, I don't talk about Senate rules and I don't want them messing with our rules.
BASH: OK. Just wanted to give it a try.
PELOSI: But I do think that instead of talking about the filibuster, as I say to my members, let's talk about the issues. Gun violence prevention. Climate initiatives. Issues that relate to the Equality Act, in this month of pride, ending discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Women's -- the violence against women. What are the issues that we care about? That's really the discussion.
Why do we not have them? Well, that's more of interest to people. There are kitchen table issues, about the cost of prescription drugs. We want to give the secretary the power to negotiate for lower prices. If that needs 60 votes, it might not happen.
BASH: So let's talk about January 6th.
BASH: And getting to the bottom of what happened there. As you well know, Senate Republicans blocked your proposal for a commission, bipartisan commission to investigate. You have vowed to get answers no matter what.
PELOSI: That's right.
BASH: Are you at the point where you are going to appoint a select committee to do so?
PELOSI: A week ago I was asked to give it another week, so I'll see by Monday if the Senate believes that they could -- those who are working in a bipartisan way can get three more votes. It would have been 57 if everyone were present and voting. Three more. I have yielded on every point except scope, except scope, number of people on the committee, subpoena power, timetable, you name it.
We've yielded because of the value of the bipartisanship that would spring from that. But I would not -- they want to say, well, we're going to investigate that, we should investigate Black Lives Matter, and people turned out after George Floyd was shot. No, that's not what this -- this is about an assault on our democracy, on our Capitol of the United States. The American people deserve and must have answers. We will seek the truth. We will find the truth. But we hope that we can do it with passing the commission.
BASH: OK. So assuming the commission doesn't pass, are you saying by Monday, which is tomorrow?
BASH: You'll announce a select committee?
PELOSI: No, I'm not going to announce anything tomorrow. I want to see what their response is and then review it with my --
BASH: It sounds like you're getting closer to it.
PELOSI: Well, it is an option, and everybody knows the power of the speaker to do that. So I would hope that that would motivate them to say, let's go a different place. But the question arises, what the Republicans in the Senate are so afraid of the truth. Why are they so afraid of the truth? They themselves were under assault. This Capitol, our democracy was under assault. The director of the FBI, even before, in September, testified that white supremacy and anti-Semitism, et cetera.
BASH: Why do you think they're afraid of the truth?
PELOSI: You'd have to ask them. But they know where the roads might lead in terms of some of them individually. And, of course, the former president of the United States who incited an insurrection. Who incited an insurrection?
Now we had an impeachment ceremony, a process which I thought made the case, a number of Republicans agreed. But still, I think it's cowardice and I think it's cowardice just to oppose a former president. But it's also concern about what it says about them.
BASH: I want to ask you about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
BASH: You and other top House Democrats released a pretty rare statement rebuking her for appearing to, quote, "draw false equivalencies between the United States and Israel and terrorist organizations, Hamas and Taliban." She clarified, she said that she was in no way equating them, but since all of that happened, she and others don't seem to be letting this go. Rashida Tlaib, one of her close friends, member of your caucus, tweeted the following.
"Freedom of speech doesn't exist for Muslim women in Congress. The benefit of the doubt doesn't exist for Muslim women in Congress."
PELOSI: OK, you know what?
BASH: "House Democratic leadership should be ashamed."
PELOSI: Let me just say this.
PELOSI: We did not rebuke. We think -- acknowledged that she made a clarification. So before we go too far down that path, predicate --
BASH: Yes. I'm -- these aren't my words.
PELOSI: No, I understand that.
BASH: These are your caucus member's words.
PELOSI: As a member.
PELOSI: As a caucus member.
BASH: A caucus member.
PELOSI: A caucus member.
BASH: Yes. So I just wanted to get your response to that.
PELOSI: And I'm saying -- no, I'm responding that we, the Congresswoman Omar is a valued member of our caucus. She asked her questions of the secretary of State. Nobody criticized those, about how people will be held accountable if we're not going to the International Court of Justice. That was a very legitimate question. That was not of concern. Members did become concerned when the tweet that was put out equated the United States with the Taliban and Hamas.
BASH: Rashida Tlaib is accusing you of policing women --
PELOSI: And, and then she clarified it. And we thanked her for clarification.
BASH: So do you want people to just let it go and move on?
PELOSI: They can say whatever they want. But what I'm saying is, end of subject, she clarified, we thanked her, end of subject. Whatever people go out and say is up to them, but what happened is a reflection of the respect we have for our member. When she made her questions at the hearing, but the disagreement that we have to equate the United States of America with Hamas and the Taliban.
BASH: Before I let you go, I want to look overseas, look ahead to this week.
BASH: President Biden has a big meeting with Vladimir Putin. What do you want to see out of that meeting, and specifically, I want to go back to something that happened on this show last week? The Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said that U.S. adversaries have the capabilities to shut down the power grid. You have tremendous expertise in intelligence. How worried are you about this and should President Biden bring it up?
PELOSI: Well, I'm very proud of the fact that the president is in Europe saying we're back. We're back for climate. We're back for open society. We're open for the relationship that we've had in NATO in terms of security, security, security, which is so important. And I can tell you in my meetings with all these people, most of it pre- COVID, but much of it by Zoom since then, that they are so happy that America is back, and look forward to this visit by the president.
In terms of his meeting with Putin, I think that he should meet with him. They should have a line of communication. And issues like cybersecurity and energy, of course, are not necessarily on the table in that meeting, but are the reality that we have to deal with. And energy and cybersecurity are probably two items that may come up at that meeting, but that we have to be prepared for whether they do or not.
Now, let's just make a contrast. The president -- former president of the United States, for whatever reason, whether the Russians had personal, political or financial leverage over him, just kowtowed, catered to Putin in a way that was humiliating to the United States of America. And when, when Putin hears about some of the violations of the rights of his own people, he laughs. This is a thug. This is a thug.
But he is the head of an important state in terms of the issues you raised. The president should meet with him, and I think he's going to meet a very different president than one who was at the mercy of Putin.
BASH: Madam Speaker, I so appreciate you coming in. Again, nice to see you in person as we come out of the pandemic.
PELOSI: Thank you.
BASH: I appreciate it.
PELOSI: Stay safe, everyone.
BASH: Thank you.
And thank you so much for spending part of your Sunday with us. Stay with CNN for the very latest on President Biden's trip overseas. Next up is the NATO summit in Brussels. And on Wednesday, special coverage of President Biden's face-to-face meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. That will be in Geneva.
The news here on CNN continues next.