tv House Minority Leader Pelosi News Conference CSPAN May 10, 2018 2:04pm-2:38pm EDT
today approving a bill advancing efforts to create a national repository for nuclear waste. at yucca mountain in nevada. that wraps up work for the week. although they will be meeting briefly tomorrow in a pro forma session. both the democratic leader and the house speaker briefed reporters today. representive pelosi went first. we'll follow her remarks with speaker ryan's news conference. s. pelosi: here they come.
here we are. good morning, everyone. i'm very privileged to be here with a distinguished gripe of democratic members -- group of democratic members. thanks to members engel, waters and schiff for their outstanding leadership on their committees of jurisdiction and their fierce commitment to defending america's national security in the region and around the world. thanks also to representative david price, doggett, schakowsky, connolly, welch, lee and yarmuth for joining us. and for your strong leadership, all of you, in congress, that you defend the iran nuclear agreement. i carried in this book, because i display it with great pride in my office and show it to people who come by. this is the democratic members' statements in support of the iran nuclear agreement. i believe that the iran nuclear
agreement was one of the great diplomatic achievements of our time. to be able to bring russia and china along with the other members of the national security council -- the -- plus germany. national security five, plus germany, -- it's not the national. it's -- was remarkable. was remarkable. for years we have been trying to t china and russia to do any sanctions on iran. never, never, never. and now they were willing to join in this nuclear agreement that has recognition of their importance in all of this. so for the president to destroy the successful joint comprehensive plan of action gravely endangers our global security and defies
comprehension. this was an agreement, and i show you this book, because we didn't ask people to sign a letter. we asked them to study the agreement, to review the validation of ambassadors and generals and admirals and military people across the board, to review the recommendations of nuclear ysicists, some of them nobel laureates, saying that this agreement should be the template for future nuclear nonproliferation agreements. to ask their questions, to talk to their constituents, to make their own decisions and make their own statements about this. so i was very, very proud of the strong support that the members came to their own conclusions about supporting the agreement. it was an excellent piece of work. but also the agreement.
so as i said, the president's actions are very troubling. the joint comprehensive plan of action, again, was masterful diplomacy. the p-5, the permanent members of the security council, plus germany, and the e.u. together for an agreement that was heralded by, as i said, generals, top the physicists, nobel laureates, ambassadors, diplomats, national security and nonproliferation experts and global leaders. the jcpoa is working, it's a start of restrictions and rigorous inspections have prevented iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and made the american people and our allies safer. even senior trump administration officials have confirmed that iran has remained in compliance with the agreement. president trump's dangerous actions leave america isolated in regard to iran. it erodes our international credibility during a critical moment with north korea. and it recklessly puts the
catastrophic threat of a nuclear armed iran back on the table. democrats have no illusions about the iranian regime. democrats remain strongly committed to stopping the advancement of iran's ballistic missile program, its egregious human rights abuses in iran, and its uncentral support of terrorism in the region -- unacceptable support of terrorism in the region. but the reckless, rash decision are no substitute for real global leadership. democrats will continue to show strong, smart leadership to keep our country safe. with that, i'm very pleased to yield to the distinguished ranking member of the intelligence committee, mr. adam schiff
of california. mr. schiff: thank you, madam leader. the iranian nuclear deal put important constraints on iran's nuclear efforts. it required iran to export the vast majority of its enriched uranium. it required iran to pour concrete, and it required iran to submit to the most intrusive inspections of any nuclear
program in history. the decision the president made this week to renege on the iranian nuclear deal makes iran's nuclear program now more likely to be resumed. it means that the nuclear deal over time is more likely to unravel and iran may go back to pursuit of highly enriched uranium and ultimately a nuclear weapon. that prospect has now increased with the president's action. this is particularly so given that the president has no plan b, no alternative, nothing is expressed that will prevent a resumption of iran's nuclear program. but the reneging on that commitment also means that conflict in the middle east, perhaps another war in the middle east, is now more likely, not less likely. and finally, there's a third consequence of the president's action. and that is this -- the president broke america's word when we entered into this agreement.
now it's one thing for the president to break his own word, he does that seemingly all the time. but it's another when the president breaks the word of the united states of america. how will the world, how will our allies or our adversaries in the future believe that a president, the future president, can commit this country to a treaty or other obligation if it won't outlast the next election? that is, i think, the far-reaching dag and damaging consequence also of this action. so it makes a nuclear iran more likely, not less. it makes for this war or conflict in the middle east more likely, not less. there is no alternative plan the president has put in place, and of great consequence it means that our friends and foe alike cannot count on this president to uphold the word of the united states of america. and that will have lasting consequences. with that, i'd like to introduce the ranking member on the foreign affairs committee, eliot engel.
mr. engel: thank you very much. we need to be clear. iran is a serious threat. , st night's strikes on israel risk calculating and risk making this into a full-fledged war. iran supports terrorism. iran has ballistic missiles. iran tramples on human rights. as the leader said, no one doubts that iran is a bad player. the question is, how do you answer it? yes, there are some parts of a jcpoa that are problematic. but how do you fix them? do you fix them by staying in the deal? or do you fix them by walking away from the deal? i think it's clear that if you want to fix them, you stay in the deal and try to get others who are in the deal to work with us. we needed to work with our partners to extend the life of the deal because the sunset
provision were problematic. we need to work with our partners to dial up pressure on iran. we walk away now. we have no pressure. instead of iran being isolated, the united states is isolated. we've lost all leverage. we've lost the goodwill of our partners. it seems to me that at this particular time, walking away from this deal is the worst thing we could do. we've also lost credibility on the world stage. at a time when we're going into serious negotiations with north korea. who would want to negotiate with us if the next time a president of another party came in, all he would do is just get rid of the deal? so i think when you look at things, personal peak isn't important. or even the deal isn't important. what's important is how does this strengthen or weaken america's position in the world? and it's clear to me that this weakens america's position in the world, again, i think the iranians must be laughing all
the way because we're stumbling and bumbling once again. so i think this was the worst thing to do. the worst thing to do for peace in the world, the worst thing to do for the united states' credibility, and the worst thing to do as we move forward. the president made a bad mistake and i hope it gets corrected. and now it's my pleasure to introduce the ranking member, maxine waters. ranking member of the financial services committee. ms. waters: thank you very much. president trump made the entire world a more dangerous place when he recklessly abandoned the iran nuclear deal. signed by president obama, this deal effectively blocks iran from having a credible path to a nuclear bomb for at least 15 years. trump's decision to pull the u.s. out of the deal will now
allow iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program unconstrained, without u.n. inspectors, without any recourse to stop them short of a u.s.-led military attack. with respect to this president's decision to renew and expand u.s. sanctions, i would note that sanctions by themselves are not a strategy. moreover, even the harshest international sanctions did not prevent iran from continuing to pursue a nuclear capability at the height -- capability. at the height of these sanctions, iran's nuclear program grew from 3500 to 20,000 nuclear -- from 500 to 20,000 nuclear fuses. if trump decides to impose secondary sanctions on our european allies, which don't just ban u.s. companies from doing business with iran, but also cut off any foreign company operating in iran from u.s. financial systems, this will
likely spark a serious battle with our closest allies whose companies have invested billions in iran under the jcpoa. and if european companies do stop doing business with iran, the nuclear deal will almost certainly collapse. the president's irresponsible actions have already alienated our allies, triggered the long-term isolation of america, and likely put the united states on a path of escalation with iran. and there's an obvious link here to trump's so-called diplomacy with north korea. the administration's ability to pursue a credible diplomatic solution with respect to kim jong un's nuclear program will be seriously undermined if north korean alliance believe the u.s. can be trusted -- a-- allies believe the u.s. can't be trusted to stand by commitments. trump's unilateralism will make fortune a common threat against iran and other threats to u.s.
national security much more difficult going forward. put another way, trump has endangered the lives of every american with the stroke of a pen. and, ladies and gentlemen, something about our allies have been alluded to here. let me just share with you president emmanuel macron, president angela merkel, and prime minister teresa may issued the following joint statement on the u.s. withdrawal from the iran nuclear deal. and i quote, it is with great regret and concern that we, the leaders of france, germany and the united kingdom, take note of president trump's decision to withdraw the united states of america from the joint comprehensive plan of action. together we emphasize our continuing commitment to the jcpoa. this agreement remains important for our shared security. further, we urge the u.s. to ensure that the structures of the jcpoa can remain in tact and
to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal. after engaging with the u.s. administration in a thorough manner over the past months, we call on the u.s. to do everything possible to preserve the gains for nuclear nonproliferation brought about by the jcpoa. by allowing for a continued enforcement of its main elements. and with that i will turn the mic over to representative price. thank you. mr. price: thank you. i think probably the last tuesday qualifies as the worst day of the trump presidency. the historic agreement negotiated with five partners eliminated the threat of a nuclear iran without firing a single shot. without taking one life.
by unilaterally pulling out of this agreement, president trump has strengthed the hardliners in iran, he has damaged u.s. credibility and increased iran's credibility. he's done far more to allow iran's potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon than to prevent it. and he's done more to isolate the united states than isolate iran. in isolating us from our partners, he has put israel, put the entire region at greater risk. and has diminished our leverage to hold tehran accountable. former israeli prime minister and defense minister said that abandoning the jcpoa would be a mistake. he said, and i'm quoting him, even if america decides to pull out of it, no one will join. not the chinese, not the russians, not even the europeans. it will serve the iranians. end of quote. and he's not the only one condemning this decision. international leaders from nations around the world, china, turkey, australia, japan, all of our european allies have decried
the president's decision. here at home the republican chairman of the armed services committee, thornberry, said he would counsel against pulling out of the iran deal. by breaking the deal, the united states becomes isolated, not iran. we lose visibility and access to sites in iran that we may find problematic. and we fracture the international unity needed to thwart iran's other threatening activities. so with no strategy in iran, no strategy in the middle east, the president is taking a wrecking ball to u.s. leadership and leverage around the world. he's imposed on americans a manufactured and self-inflicted crisis. with potentially far-reaching and historic consequences. now i am happy to turn the podium over to my colleague from texas. mr. doggett: thank you, david. while we are not here to deliver a tom cotton-type message to an ayatollah, we do advance a
message that while there is alarm, there is also hope. hope based on the fact that so many americans continue to support this valuable agreement. hope and praise for our allies that they remain in this agreement. and hope that iran will maintain what our own american military professionals confirm is its full compliance. we've never had any illusions about iran. this agreement is based on verification, not on trust. it imposed the most stringent requirements and inspections regime the world has ever seen. it includes iranian military sites. iran has shipped out 96% of its enriched uranium and dismantled 2/3 of its centrifuges while agreeing permanently that, quote, under no circumstances will iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons. with trump breaking american commitments to the world on an
agreement that has so effectively accomplished its purpose, many commentators have already noted how much more difficult resolving north korea will become. but i think it's about more than just our credibility jeopardized by a broken promise. by declaring that the extensive enforcement provisions against iran are grossly deficient in what he described as the worst deal ever, trump sets the standard by which he himself should be judged in korea. we cannot settle for some broad statement of principles. we need to know that he will secure a more stringent inspection regime in korea, even mo more intrucive than that of which he has unjustifiably condemned in iran. and whatever his plan b might be , if that doesn't work out, in korea or in iran, b cannot stand for bombing. i invite my colleague, jan
schakowsky. ms. schakowsky: president trump has simply thrown away -- thrown the world into a rye sis of his own creation. the jcpoa was a historic triumph of democrat -- diplomacy. it addressed one of the most pressing security issues of our time without a single loss of life, without a single bullet fired. and the deal was working. in an open letter, 36 retired u.s. generals and admirals stated, quote, there is no better option to prevent an iranian nuclear weapon. military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented . if the deal is rejected by america, the iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. the choice is that stark.
you know, we've talked about not having any illusions about iran and the things that they are doing to support terrorism, ballistic missiles, their human rights violations. yes, they are. and are those things somehow made better by having a nuclear weapon? of course not. they become that much more dangerous. so now president trump has violated the terms of the agreement without even an inkling of a plan or statement or strategy for what comes next. withdrawing from the jcpoa may very well lead to an iranian nuclear weapon, a true international security catastrophe. and with that, i introduce jerry connolly, someone who worked very hard to help get this deal passed. mr. connolly: well, i'm last.
i want to make two points. president trump's decision to abrogate and withdraw from the iran agreement, in my opinion constitutes one of the most soorded and reckless acts by a chief executive of this country. not since the u.s. senate failed to ratify of treaty of versailles and join the league of nations has there been such a momentous and destructive foreign policy decision. that will lead to terrible outcomes. the probability of a nuclear iran has now risen exponentially, just when we had it under control. and if that happens, the saudis have indicated they will do it too. and now we're off to an arms race. in the most volatile part of the world. and president trump, in having s leave this treaty, of course has us leave without a
parachute. there's no follow-up plan. and i echo what my colleague point number two. what does this mean about north korea? if you find something that's working and meeting all of its metrics, inadequate, because your predecessor signed it, and your pet lens knows no bounds, even when national security is involved, then here's your standard, your own standard for north korea. absolute denuclearization, absolutely verifiable. anything less than that is a failure, mr. trump, by your own new standard. thank you very much for having us
here today. ms. pelosi: thank you very much. it's really hard to explain to anyone why they think it's a good idea to reject this agreement. because it is an agreement that says that iran would not have a nuclear weapon for a number of
years, possibly ever. in terms of the language of the agreement. without the agreement, iran was on a path to having a nuclear weapon in one or two years. so to those who keep saying this is important for to us stop them from getting a weapon way down the road, you have just given them license to go forward in a year or two. making the world a more nuclear place, making activity desired by others in the region. very, very sad. we take an oath to protect and defend. that is our first responsibility. i do not think the president is honoring that oath. by what he did. i'm glad that we're joined by our colleagues who spoke. others who have been working on this issue. congresswoman barbara lee, congressman john yarmuth. and congressman peter welch are
with us. and other members who have been saying that there is no plan b, how do we make sure that the world knows that we are committed to nuclear nonproliferation? and we're willing to make the important decisions and tough decisions to do so? mr. connolly has set a high standard for the president. i hope he understands what's at steak and this isn't about photo -- stake. and this isn't about photo ops. it's about global leadership. any questions? on this subject? [laughter] we'll go to others after. but on this subject. reporter: this is a white house who says the president was elected to renegotiate deals like this. he's elected on his own negotiating ability. there are many americans who don't think the iran deal is a good one. there are many moderates in congress. can you comment on that idea that the president is fulfilling a promise to voters to try and get better deals? ms. pelosi: it's interesting how selective the president is about
fulfilling his promises. remember the interest and what a villain that was and he was going to get rid of that and so many other things? remember how he was going to protect american workers and the tax bill that gives corporations a tax incentive to create jobs overseas, don't get me started. ith his campaign promises. >> [inaudible] ms. pelosi: so the fact is, over 60% of the american people in a poll that just came out said they wanted the agreement to be sustained. i just want to read a quote from ed royce, do you want to read it? from ed royce? your chairman? >> i believe the best path forward at this point is continuing to fix these flaws as we enforce the hell out of this deal. tary tearing up the nuclear deal won't cover this. it won't help galvanize our allies into addressing iran's dangerous activities that
threatenen us all. mr. engel: i fear withdrawal would set back these efforts. and congress has heard nothing about alternatives. i would conquer with all those words -- concur with all of those words. ms. pelosi: he opposed the agreement. reporter: thanks so much. the white house has indicated that it's possibly going to implement additional sanctions beyond the sanctions they've reimposed with the jcpoa. some of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle have also quoted this idea. legislatively do you have any sort of game plan to, you know, keep some of your -- not chairman royce, but people like senator toomey, congressman mccaul, who have called for additional sanctions on iran, from going forward? ms. pelosi: does anybody want to speak to that? as has been said, the president had no plan b. this was a coordinated
collaboration among many nations and that multilateralism was the strength of the agreement. it's very hard to know if the president's even going to enforce sanctions. if he doesn't feel like it that day. no matter what the congress says. but as our ranking member on foreign affairs and others have said, we have no illusions about iran. about their ballistic missile program. about their support for terrorism in the region. or their human rights violations at home. e have sanctions in place, i don't know how -- i just wish we could geth put the toothpaste back in the tube because the president has taken us down a very dangerous path. we're just watching the clock because we have votes. reporter: i have a question for congressman schiff. what was the most concerning part of the facebook ad release from the intelligence committee today? pelosi just one second.
any other questions on the agreement? -- ms. pelosi: just one more second. any other questions on the agreement? reporter: on this agreement with what the president's planning on doing with kim jong un, moving forward, should these types of agreements be ratified as treaties so it's much more difficult for a successor then to walk it back? ms. pelosi: no. it's an agreement. it was a multilateral agreement. does anyone want to speak to that? it's a multilateral agreement and it has the full force -- look, let me just say this. something very strange about this attempt to stop iran from going forward with a developing -- with developing a nuclear weapon. one republican in the house or the senate -- not one republican in the house or the senate supported the effort to stop iran from moving forward with that. so that may not have been the motivation for having it as an agreement, as opposed to a treaty, but doing it as an
agreement got the job done. reporter: my question so, that's ok moving forward with other international agreements, whatever president trump may agree to -- ms. pelosi: a judgment about whatever it is and how many other parties are involved in it. this was the united nations security council plus one, germany. the e.u. nd
iran. mr. connolly: let's remember that the procedure for considering the jcpoa was set up in an agreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch. it was actually authored by bob corker, the republican chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. so, we decided to go an alternative route but it was hardly a rogue act by president obama. it was done in full consultation with the legislative branch. mr. engel: and i would like to add, what happened two years ago happened two years ago. the question is now what should we do? i was opposed to the deal. i voted against the deal. i think there were legitimate
concerns raised about the fact that certain things sunset in the deal. but if we want to change that, what's the best way to change it? is it to petulantly pick up our card and walk away? sore it to stay there and fight against an aggressive iran, stay there and make the case so that at least our allies will bacchus in it? so it's not -- back us in it? so it's not the agreement itself were. there were things that could be changed -- itself. there were things that could be changed. and everyone here says iran is a terrible threat. the question is, what best serves the united states of america? and i would argue that by staying in the deal, we best serve the cause of peace and we best save the cause of the united states of america. ms. pelosi: i might add that we wanted the house of representatives to have some say in this. and as you know, we have no say in any treaty agreement.
mr. schiff: two last points on iran before i turn to the facebook question. first on the issue of sanctions. if this administration goes forward and starts to impose secondary sanctions on our european allies who have given every indication that they're going to remain within the deal, that will only further drive a wedge between the united states and its closest allies. that would be an additional destructive act. whatted made the sanctions so effective is that the world was in unison on themment and that will no longer be the case. it also will accelerate a drive to develop alternate systems to swift that will undermine the u.s. ability to use sanctions to avoid conflict in the future. so the ramifications are very serious. final point on the iran deal. our intelligence shows us that iran is complying with the deal. this wasn't a situation where we caught iran cheating. this is a situation where intelligence agencies have said quite flickly iran was complying and yet we are withdrawing from
the agreement. one of the consequences of that is, as new information comes available, as israelis have acquired new information, if those materials show that in the past iran was doing work at sites -- [inaudible] -- but should we find those materials that iran was doing its sites, work at sites we didn't know previously, we are not in a position anymore to call for inspection of those sites. we have essentially taken ourselves out of the agreement and our ability to enforce its terms now is completely nullified. finally on facebook, we think it's important for the public to see the length and breadth of the ads that the russians put on facebook. we are not in a position in our committee to do the full analysis that academics and . searchers can do by providing this publicly, the public will get a sense, number one, of just how cynical these ads are and how they sought to
divide us along racial and ethnic and other lines, how they sought to exploit divisions in our society. but also we can outsource to academia and journalists to help us in our research about the down stream consequences of these acts. we're going to continue working with facebook and the other social media companies and hope to make further disclosures about the organic con fent which in many ways far surpasses what was done in strictly advertising. the task in minimizing that to protect personal information is more substantial at that so that's going take longer -- substantial so that's going take longer. ms. pelosi: i'm sorry, we have votes. reporter: are you asking congressman cardenas to resign because of the sexual assault allegations? [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018]