House Speaker Pelosi Holds News Conference CSPAN June 4, 2020 11:18pm-11:51pm EDT
>> george floyd. george floyd. >> with the recent protests across the country, watch over coverage with briefings from the white house, congress, governors and mayors from across the nation updating the situation. plus, efforts addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and camping 2020. join in the conversation every day on washington journal.
if you missed any of our live coverage, watch anytime on demand at c-span.org or listen on the go with the free c-span radio app. house speaker nancy pelosi held her weekly briefing with reporters. she talked about the use of military and federal law enforcement agencies in response to protest and feature a just race and -- future legislation. this is half an hour. >> good afternoon. there's so much going on. thank you for accommodating our change in schedule today. as you probably are aware, this afternoon i sent a letter to the president expressing concern about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos.
i plan to request a full list of the agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement sources operating in the city. well, i preface it by saying as you probably saw, the military on the steps of the lincoln memorial. the -- what is it? i'll read it to you. soldiers on the steps of the lincoln memorial. rob -- bureau of prison officers in lafayette square. the national park service doing that violent act, hassling peaceful protesters the other night. states have sent in national guard troops from other states. the fbi and other federal agencies are operating. we want a complete list. who is in charge? what is the chain of command,
and by what authority does it do -- do these national guard people come in from other states? by what authority? what is the mission? what is the chain of command? who is in charge? we want some answers to that. and i sent that on behalf of my members. of course, today is a day of great sadness. having the first service for george floyd. it is a national day of mourning, i see, for george floyd, and we pray for his family and pray for healing for our country, gathered here, people have been gathering in minneapolis for the first service.
across the country, american people are grieving for over 100,000 people, lives lost from covid-19. and now for the victims of a pattern of racial injustice and brutality that we saw most recently in the death -- the murder, actually, of george floyd. again, i revert to our national's capital, peaceful protesters are confronted with a deployment of various security officers with multiple -- from multiple jurisdictions, including, and this is important, unidentified federal law enforcement. further, in the letter, i say to make matters worse, some officers have refused to provide information, have been deployed without identifying insignia, badges, or name plates. the practice of officers operating with full anonymity undermines accountability and ignits government distrust and suspicion and is counter to the principle of procedural justice and legitimacy during this precarious moment in our history.
the justice department itself in the past has stated that allowing officers to work anonymously creates mistrust and undermines accountability. and it conveys a message to community members that through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity. in recent days, many former high-level department of justice officials have echoed this concern and warned that allowing federal law enforcement officers to operate without identification can fatally weaken oversight efforts and fails to send a message that abuse will be tolerated. we're in a very difficult situation. it has to be handled with care. we certainly want to support peaceful demonstrations. we all reject violence.
but this militarization and this proliferation of different groups coming into the capital city, the capital city of our country, some without identification, others without justification, what is the mission? who is in charge? what is the chain of command? we expect an answer to that. as you know, we are on the brink of announcing an initiative led by the congressional black caucus, the chair karen bass, of california, will be making that announcement on monday. we are working with the senate democrats as well and advancing legislation protecting equal justice and including a number of provisions ending racial profiling, ending excessive use of force, ending qualified immunity. the qualified immunity doctrine, and again, addressing the loss of trust between police
departments and communities they serve. we will not relent until that is secured, that justice is secured. what happened with george floyd is so heartbreaking, but pivotal. it's an inflection point. it is a threshold that our country has crossed. it isn't the first time someone has been harmed, murdered, unfairly at the hands of law enforcement, but it is a time that is about a pattern at a time when people, the high tension is up because of the coronavirus and other people are dying as well as the confinement, the economic uncertainty. so to address those health issues and the address the uncertainty, and to address the
wellbeing of our country, we hope the senate will soon take up the heroes act. the heroes act is about protecting the lives, the livelihood, and the life of our democracy in our country. you know the three main pillars. to open our economy, testing, tracing, treatment, confinement. we don't have a vaccine, and we don't have a cure. but we do have testing, tracing, treatment, and isolation that can save lives. especially when we consider the disparity of the deaths by the coronavirus. disproportionately affecting people of color. if you don't test, you don't know. and you can't save those lives. so that's a major part of the heroes act. called heroes because we are honoring our heroes, our first responders, our health care workers, food, transit, sanitation, teachers, teachers, teachers, people who make our society go. and that is by helping state and
local government. go to speaker.gov/heroesact, and see what it means to a community near you. what it means to your state or to your municipality. perhaps even to your county. speaker.gov/herosact. and the third part of that, open our economy by testing. honoring our heroes by keeping government open and third, putting money in the pockets of the american people. so important right now. senator mcconnell said we must take a pause. a pause? is the virus taking a pause? is unemployment taking a pause? is hunger taking a pause? is the need for rent taking a pause? i don't think so. and nor should we. if we do not act soon, we will
only worsen the fiscal impact and the economic impact on our society. don't take it from me. take it from the chairman of the fed. we really need to act to invest. this recession will worsen unless we put money in the pockets of the american people. so no, we don't need a pause. we need a pass of a bill in the senate. and we have bipartisan support all over the country for those three main pillars, honor our heroes, open our economy by testing, money in the pockets of the american people. in addition to that, we want them to agree to worker safety in the workplace, support the postal system, support for vote by mail, and again, support for food stamps to feed the hungry in our country. those seem so self-evident. and again, we are hoping that it will be soon, as you see they have a change of attitude. we're excited they finally did pass the ppp bill, dean philips, new member of congress from minnesota, had put forth a
bipartisan bill that passed the senate. i just signed it before i came over here. i would have signed it in front of you, but they told me i had to have permission from the radio tv gallery to do that. is that what you said? [laughter] so since we didn't do that. so now we want to move on with that. for me, today is a very sad and special day. today, we solemnly mark 31 years since the tiananmen square massacre. 31 years. in 1991, i stood in tiananmen square, bipartisan group of members of congress, bipartisan, and we unfurled a flag reading "to those who died for democracy." we were chased by the police. there was a question of who could run faster because they were after us with clubs and whatever else. they took some of the press film or whatever, film. 31 years ago, away from them. sadly, decades later, china's record of repression is unchanged. i'm so proud that in a bipartisan way, congress has long been united in strong support for human rights in china.
this past year, the house held beijing accountable in a number of ways, passing the human rights policy act, which i signed the other day. some of you -- was that yesterday? seems like a long time ago. no, tuesday. tuesday. the human rights policy act. the tibet policy and support act, and the hong kong human rights and democracy act. we hope, as the president executes, implements these laws, we can work together to have a strategic plan, not only us in a bipartisan way, but also and bicameral, but also globally to stop the oppression in china. i always say this, if we refuse to condemn human rights violations in china because of economic concerns, then we lose
all moral authority to criticize human rights violations anyplace in the world. so with that, again, we are sad about george floyd. we thank his family for the dignity and the inspiration that they have demonstrated in all of this. and we pray that he rests in peace. any questions? yes. >> [inaudible] rep. pelosi: that's right. >> [inaudible] rep. pelosi: i did have a conversation with the british ambassador yesterday. on a vaertdriety of subjects and this came up because it's timely. this is consistent and a continuation of u.k. law, vis-a-vis hong kong. so he said he would consider, let's see what they do. the concern i have about it is, though, as generous as that is, that would be a large percentage, maybe 40% of the people of hong kong. and it would be a big brain drain on hong kong. so again, i think it's a wonderful thing that people know that people will know that their safety is protected and they can go to london. but i would hope that democracy could come -- democratic freedoms, not democracy, but democratic freedoms could come to hong kong. yes, ma'am.
do you and the caucus believe this is an issue of systemic racism in american policing, and would you be comfortable naming them? rep. pelosi: as i mentioned, we're taking our lead from our distinguished chair of the congressional black caucus. karen bass. as you probably know, in the congress of the united states, the black caucus is considered the conscience of the congress. and their years of history, of experience. when i say experience, i mean personal as well as legislative experience. as to how we go forward.
so on monday, we'll be making our announcement as to how we go forward in this particular aspect of it. but it is about other injustices, too. it's about health disparities. it's about environmental injustice. it's about economic injustice. it's about educational injustice. so we want to see this as a time where we can go forward in a very drastic way, not incrementally, but in an important way to re-dress those problems. >> [inaudible] rep. pelosi: let me leave the presentation up to the caucus. we certainly do see that this is more than one or two people acting. there's a record. and that's what i think is so
important about how many people are turning out, because as important as george floyd's life is, and our hearts are broken that his life was taken, it's about a pattern of behavior. so i would use the word pattern. we'll see how the black caucus will want to present this. i tell you this, speaking of systemic. i had a privilege, and some of you know this, to go with the black caucus last summer to caucus. it was the anniversary of the first slaves coming across the ocean. i don't say to america, because america didn't even exist then. it wasn't the united states. it was just coming across the ocean. these people were kidnapped. or purchased. placed in dungeons beneath the dignity of a human being. you wouldn't even -- it was horrible. horrible, these dungeons.
we spent time in the dungeon. you could just imagine how awful it was with the number of people for the length of time. and if you survived that, because people died there, if you survived that, you were put on a death ship to cross the ocean, to leave the door of no return, that's what it said behind you, the door of no return. leave your family and never probably see them again, across the ocean on a death ship. if you survived that, you were sold into slavery. for a couple hundred years, your family. if you survive that, you're some sturdy stock, i would say. a blessing to america, but nonetheless, victims of jim crow and other things. i wish you could all go to selma and to birmingham and to montgomery and see the history
there, as we all were just most recently in march. and in one of the things in brian stevenson's -- one of his museums, he has two, the lynching museum and another museum. in one of them, this is something i can never get out of my mind. the little children, little children speaking, and they're little children. holding hands, and they're saying, mama, mama. has anyone seen our mother? separated from their children. separated from their children. their parents separated from their children. so you want to talk systemic, we're talking a long way back and a lot of injustice in it all. sad to see when those children are separated from their parents in mexico, that we could even think that was an ok idea. we just had to listen to the voices of the children. so there's a lot that we have to redress in how we go forward, but maybe the sacrifice of george floyd's life, sadly, is something that just takes us to a new and better place and how we address all of this. yes, sir. you had a question?
>> [inaudible] rep. pelosi: chairman smith is the chairman for those of you, he's the chairman of the armed services committee. he has put out a statement earlier this week about calling in the current secretary of defense esper and calling in the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general milley. he said that. today, when he was asked after mattis, my understanding the statement was first we're going to start with the current people in place and then we'll see where we go from there. but everyone is very proud of the patriotism, the courage of general mattis. secretary mattis. i guess general must be a big title. almost anybody can be a secretary, but a general, that's something else.
>> [laughter] rep. pelosi: so i don't know if that will follow, but he's going to follow up on his announcement earlier in the week. yeah. as you know, all of the committees have asked for things, the chairman of the homeland security committee, bennie thompson of mississippi, has asked a 16-page letter of things, a long letter talking about the secret service -- did i mention the secret service? [laughter] another agency of government doing law enforcement in the capital, about the role of
secret service in all of this. so different chairs have had different pieces. to your question about mattis, that's the most current information that i have. yes, sir. >> [inaudible] rep. pelosi: well, i did hear of los angeles, that's almost 1/10 of the budget, about $1.3 billion, and 1/10 of that. again, i refer to the congressional black caucus as to how they want to prioritize. the question of curating some of these, some of these overlaps.
prioritizing, and deciding how many different bills will they appear. some of them may have some bipartisan support right away, and others may need some more work in that regard. so we shall see. yes, ma'am. >> thank you. [inaudible] what does it mean that she may be standing up against some of the incumbents in her own party? rep. pelosi: what remains is i firmly support eliot engel for congress, and i support alexandria for congress as well. i think the people of new york are very blessed to have them both in the congress. chairman engle is the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. he also has the unique privilege, which is unique and
it wouldn't happen again, just happened in terms of his term here, that he is also not only the chairman, he's a senior member of the energy and commerce committee. that wouldn't happen again. that's a lot of power. but he is in that position. so he does a great job for new york. and i wish him well in his election, as i wish her well in her election. yes, ma'am. >> regarding the scene of soldiers on the lincoln memorial. rep. pelosi: yes. >> i was there yesterday. were you even informed this would happen? rep. pelosi: no, and i would like to know who they are. are they military, are they national guard? >> i was told national guard. rep. pelosi: well, that would be hard because -- and that's part of the complication. one of the things i'm going to
ask the chairman of the armed services committee to do is to enable the mayor of washington to be able to call up the d.c. national guard. and that's why we're asking, but what authority is the president sending people from these other states into d.c.? who do they report to? do they report to their governors? is there a chain of command here? but i think what they did on the steps of the lincoln memorial was so stunning. that's why the word militarization is in my letter. it looked -- it was scary. now, my daughter alexandra, who is a journalist, and a filmmaker, many years in the news, she crossed over to the other side. does that mean she became a republican? no, she crossed over to the other side. went into the news business. [laughter] she was in lafayette square on monday night. and she called me after a certain period of time and said mom, you can't even believe what happened here.
there was no trouble. it was all peaceful. and then all of a sudden, these people came in and were pushing people and hitting them with batons. she thought she had tear gas in her eyes because she was incapacitated for a while, and she called me after. they're saying now they didn't have tear gas, but they had these pellets that exploded and had the impact of tear gas. whether that qualifies or not, i don't know. it enables them to have deniability, but the fact is they had the impact of tear gas. and they were roughing up people. for no reason. and they crossed a threshold with that. and then to make room for whatever it was to follow.
so i think that they made a couple mistakes in that 24-hour period. while i have great respect for our men and women in uniform, i don't think it was appropriate to have them on the steps of the lincoln memorial. i don't think it was appropriate for people to rough people up in lafayette square who were demonstrating peacefully so that the president could come through and do his staged event at st. john's, which was magnificently addressed by the episcopal bishop of this area, of being inappropriate. and i was very proud of the catholic archbishop the next day. the president visited the shrine of pope john paul, saint pope john paul, and he said this. and i think it says -- it really echoes the words of the bishop of washington. but -- i don't think i have it. do i have it?
i want you to hold on for a second because you have to hear this. i don't seem to have it. oh, here we are. hiding under here. archbishop gregory issued a statement on the president's visit to the shrine of saint john paul ii. "i find it baffling and reprehensible that any catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles. which call on us to defend the right of all people, even those with whom we may disagree. ardent defender of the rights -- saint pope john paul ii was an ardent defender of the rights
and humanity of human beings. his legacy bears vived witness to that truth. he would not condone to use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter, or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace." the white house put out some kind of statement saying the president there with the bible at st. john's was the equivalent of winston churchill going to the ruins of london. george w. bush at 9/11. i rest my case. we do need -- i quoted a time, a time to heal. this is a time to heal. let's hope that holding that bible, something by osmosis or something may have gotten into the president about healing. a time to heal. did you know this? i didn't and i read it many times, but in this version, it says "a time to embrace and a
time not to embrace." must have been foreseeing what we're going through now. but president obama spoke so beautifully after the murder of eric garner. right now, unfortunately, we see too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly. he says this is not just a black problem or a brown problem or a native american problem. this is an american problem. when anybody in the country is not being treated equally under the law, that's a problem. then president george w. -- george herbert walker bush, the father, he said this after the rodney king beating. those terrible scenes stir us all to demand an end to gratuitous violence and brutality. law enforcement officials cannot place themselves above the law that they are sworn to defend. it was sickening to see the beating that was rendered, and there's no way, no way in my view, to explain that away. it was outrageous. time, time, time, time, a time to heal. thank you all very much.
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tweets. >> here is a look at the live coverage on friday. the archbishop of washington dc, was in gregory is part of a discussion on faith and action following the death of george floyd. then the congressional black caucus will talk about the protest. on c-span, secretary of state mike pompeo will hold a news conference at the -- axios onscussion from racial inequality and policing policing. -- policing.