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Transcript of Pelosi Interview on NBC’s TODAY Show with Savannah Guthrie

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s TODAY Show to discuss the recent Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, the Inflation Reduction Act and other news of the day.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Savannah Guthrie.  Meanwhile, Members of the House will return to Washington this week to take up that sweeping economic and climate bill just passed along party lines in the Senate.  It is one of many issues on the plate of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Of course, she has also been in the headlines recently for her trip to Taiwan.  She met with its president and voiced ironclad support for the island nation’s democracy. 

The White House publicly backed the Speaker’s right to make that visit.  But the President made clear top military officials did not believe it was wise to do so at this time.  And in the aftermath, China has responded aggressively, escalating military action in the region and stoking fears of a confrontation.  So we have a lot to discuss this morning with Speaker Pelosi, who is joining us for her first interview since returning to Washington.

Speaker Pelosi, good morning.  It’s good to have you with us this morning. 

Speaker Pelosi.  My pleasure.  Good morning. 

Savannah Guthrie.  Well, let’s start with the news – breaking news.  The FBI carrying out that surprise warrant, a search of Mar-a-Lago, the former President’s home, looking for evidence.  What do you make of that search?  How significant does this strike you to be? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well I, as others, learned on my phone that that had happened.  So I don’t know very much about it.  But again, I’m sure that information will be revealed.  And when it does, we will find out what they were looking for.  It seems to have something to do with presidential documents.  But I really am not in a position to talk about it, because all I know is what’s in the public domain. 

Savannah Guthrie.  Does it strike you as pretty serious step for the Justice Department to take? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, I think it does.  I was questioning it, because all I saw on my phone was that Donald Trump said that the visit took place and described it in pretty harsh terms.  It will be interesting to find out exactly what the warrant was in order to have – what the order was to have a search warrant and for what purpose.  But again, we can only speculate. 

Savannah Guthrie.  And before we leave it, I just want to mention House Republican Leader, your counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, put out a statement responding to the search.  He said, in part, ‘When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this Justice Department.  Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar.’  Do you have a response?. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, first of all, I think the Democrats are going to win the House.   We’ve been prepared for it for a long time, and now with what’s happening with Roe v. Wade and the legislation that we are passing, I think that whatever the Leader is saying is probably idle.  But nonetheless, we believe in the rule of law.  And that’s what our country is about.  And no person is above the law.  Not even the President of the United States.  Not even a former President of the United states. 

Savannah Guthrie.  Let’s turn now to your visit to Taiwan.  You made history.  You were the first Speaker to visit in, I guess, in more than a generation – 25 years.  The visit has resulted in considerable blowback.  And we will get to that in just a moment.  But my question to you initially is, why now?  You received briefings.  You were – the risks were laid out to you.  What was the cost-benefit analysis that you conducted?  Why was it important to make this trip now? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, the fact is, we were supposed to make it a couple of months ago.  But because of COVID, it was postponed.  I’m proud of the delegation: the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Meeks; the Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Mr. Takano; the Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Congresswoman DelBene; Andy Kim of New Jersey, who was a diplomat before coming to Congress; as well as Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is a Member of the Intelligence Committee.  It was like a six-person co-chair committee. 

A lot of attention was paid to Taiwan.  And that’s right.  But it was a bigger visit than that.  It followed on the President’s direction that we would have a focus on the Asia-Pacific.  It also took up his initiative of the Indo-Pacific economic framework.  So we went there to listen.  It’s important for us to have parliamentary-to-parliamentary exchanges as we, again, go forward with a new initiative. 

Savannah Guthrie.  Madam Speaker – just to jump in here –

Speaker Pelosi.  In Singapore, we had – all of the countries.  We thanked the members of ASEAN and our Asian friends for their very strong support for the people of Ukraine and condemning Russia for their invasion.  In all the places there, we brought our respect, to listen to what they had to say about how we go forward: security-wise, economic-wise, as well as in the terms of the governance. 

Savannah Guthrie.  Well, let me just jump in here –

Speaker Pelosi.  And Taiwan was a part of that trip.

Savannah Guthrie.  Yes, and it’s only because time is short, I really want to make sure we get into this, because there are reasons to take a trip like that.  But as you well know, especially with foreign policy, national security, it often comes down to trade-offs and timing.  Was it worth it, now that you see the response?  China has taken –

Speaker Pelosi.  Absolutely.  Absolutely, without any question.

Savannah Guthrie.  Okay, because China has made a series of stunningly aggressive military moves in Taiwan – I mean, unprecedented in terms of the security of Taiwan.  Was it worth it to make this trip now if that was the response from China?

Speaker Pelosi.  I have overwhelming bipartisan support for our visit to Taiwan.  As Speaker of the House, and with the distinguished delegation that I went there with, we were very well-received: thousands of people in the streets, received by the President of Taiwan, buildings with big – welcoming to us.  The people of Taiwan welcomed the visit.  The Chinese government may not have, but China will not be allowed to isolate Taiwan.

But a few months ago, a couple months ago, a delegation went from the Senate.  It was bipartisan, it was high-powered, including the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.  Nobody said a word.  Nobody said a word.  Did you even know about that trip?  

So I’m not going to – again, as a supporter of democracy in China – but this is about democracy in Taiwan.  We cannot allow the Chinese government to isolate Taiwan.  They may say to them, ‘You can’t go to the World Health Organization,’ but they’re not going to say who can go to Taiwan.  And yes, it was worth it, and what the Chinese are doing is what they usually do.

Savannah Guthrie.  Even if it’s on the Chinese, I think the Administration is clear that whatever crisis is upon us now – it is the Chinese who are the instigators of this crisis.  That said, was it not foreseeable that they would react this way?  And on the issue of timing, this comes at the very moment that the Biden Administration is trying to work with China, to hold off China from rearming Putin in Ukraine.  So as you well know, there are multiple levels of chess here.  So the question is whether a symbolic trip, important as it may be, in any way undermines some of those other also quite important objectives that the Administration has?

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, it may appear to be symbolic to you, but it was very substantial to us – for us to listen to the people in the region about our full agenda.  But also, not to say, ‘We’re not going to Taiwan because the Chinese may act up.’  The President, as is his responsibility, is usually in touch with the Chinese about one thing or another, whether it’s climate – and I think we have to work with China on the subject of climate.  But that does not give them license –

Savannah Guthrie.  They have closed dialogue on that since your visit.  I guess that’s the point.

Speaker Pelosi.  What dialogue were you aware of that they were having on climate?  They had been shutting down on many things.  So again, this thing of, ‘Oh, but they were going to be doing this, and they were going to be doing that.’  Let’s just say this is not something that should be dividing us.  We are not going to let China isolate Taiwan.  And if that – and again, if they can ignore a trip of five Senators in a bipartisan way, why would they decide on my trip that it would be different?  It’s only a matter of months.  And even about a few weeks before we went, a Republican Senator went to Taiwan.  So again, there’s something wrong with this picture.  

And I’m used to taking the barbs about – the men think it’s this or that, but a woman goes and – it’s a woman President of Taiwan.  We are so proud of her.  We want to support her courage.  And every place I went, we were invited to go.  So it is a question of what they think is important to them, rather than some – again, a very strong bipartisan support for this trip.  

But you know what, why don’t we just show China that we support Taiwan?  It is part of the U.S. – the Taiwan Relations Act.  I didn’t – we didn’t go there to change policy.  We still support the One China policy.  We go there to acknowledge the status quo is what our policy is.  There was nothing disruptive about that.  It was only about saying [Taiwan] is one of the freest societies in the world.  Don’t take it from me.  That’s from Freedom House.  It’s a strong democracy –

Savannah Guthrie.  Let’s talk a little bit about – yeah.

Speaker Pelosi.  Courageous people, and it’s just – I don’t know why it is, except there is commercial interests who would like to diminish the relationship.  But we’re very – well, tomorrow, we’ll have a press conference, and you’ll hear from my other Members about the pride we took in going there, the reception we received, the fact that the Chinese are going to do what they’re going to do.  And just because the President of Taiwan is a bully – excuse me, the President of China acts like a bully, has his own insecurities, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to have him do my – the schedule for Members of Congress.  Members of Congress can show their support for countries and democracies who are our friends.  And according to the Taiwan [Relations] Act, Taiwan is our friend.

Savannah Guthrie.  Speaker Pelosi, we’re really out of time.  I don’t want to – the filibuster exists in the House, too, right?

Let’s – let me quickly ask you about midterm politics, if I could, which is, you know, clearly the President has just notched a victory.  This bill has passed in the Senate, very delicate.  I don’t have to tell you about the dance legislatively that took place.  Will you ask your Members to pass it as-is so that this bill can get across the finish line?

Speaker Pelosi.  Yes.  Let’s start with what it does for kitchen table issues for the American people.  Lower health care costs.  Lower prescription drug costs.  This is historic that, for the first time, HHS – Secretary of Health and Human Services – will be able to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.  Again, with the subsidies lowering health care costs.  It’s remarkable.  And then in terms of creating jobs and also saving our planet for future generations – for now and for future generations.  It’s remarkable.  Our Members are very pleased, and quite a bit of what is in the bill is what we had worked together, House and Senate, to do.  It doesn’t have everything we had in the bill, but we’re very pleased with what is in there.

Savannah Guthrie.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sorry to cut you off.  I wish we had more time.  But hopefully, we will get to have another conversation in the future.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate your time.

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you.  Good morning.  Thank you.

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