Hillary Clinton, as you may or may not know, has a podcast (you can listen to it above). And yesterday her guest was U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And, as you can imagine, she did not pull her punches on soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump.
You can read the full transcript below, however, the section that is getting play in the news is this: “I don’t know what Putin has on him politically, financially, or personally, but what happened last week was a gift to Putin, because Putin wants to undermine democracy in our country and throughout the world. And these people, unbeknownst to them, maybe, are Putin puppets. They were doing Putin’s business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president of the United States.”
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I’m Hillary Clinton, and this is You and Me Both. I’m excited that our podcast will officially return on February 16, but in the meantime, some significant events have unfolded over these last few weeks. So, we’re back with a special bonus episode.
I think everyone listening knows what happened on January 6th, when the United States Capitol was attacked by a group of seditionist, insurrectionist traitors. You know, I try to get out, if the weather permits, to take a long walk every day. And when I’m out walking, I don’t look at my phone and I don’t know what’s going on in the world. And I walked back into my house after the attack had started and my husband had the television on. He said, “You’ve got to see this.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was just shaken, and shocked, and angry, and sad.
Presiding over the House at the time that our Capitol was breached was the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. You know, she’s someone I’ve known a long time, worked with over a lot of years. She’s incredibly thoughtful, tough, smart, effective. I mean, it’s just not an accident that after having literally five kids, she joined politics 30 years ago when she was 50 years old and just ascended because of her character, her smarts, her skills. She’s someone I’ve been eager to have as a guest on the podcast. I never, ever could have predicted that I would finally talk to her about such an unprecedented, terrible moment in American history.
So, Speaker Pelosi, thank you for being here, and I, as an American, am incredibly grateful for your steadiness and your devotion to our democracy. How are you holding up?
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Well, first, let me just say I was very much looking forward to being with you. The kind words that you say I accept on behalf of my House Democratic Caucus colleagues. They’ve been so courageous, so steadfast, so patriotic, so committed to their oath of office. And that’s a source of not only inspiration, but strength to me.
So, I’m sad. I’m deeply sad, because here it is, the Capitol, this symbol of democracy to the world, being overrun by people who are being incited by a person who is not speaking truth. Everybody said, “Well, we’ve got to move on.” No, we can’t move on.
SPEAKER PELOSI: We can’t move on. We will move on, but we have to take stock of what this is.
HRC: When the – really invasion, because that’s what it was – the invasion of the Capitol happened January the 6th, you were in the middle of certifying the November election, doing the work of democracy, following the Constitution. When did you realize the Capitol itself had been breached by the mob?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we were, as you say, we were counting the Electoral College votes to certify that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be president and vice president of the United States. So, it wasn’t a coincidence that it happened that day. It was purposeful that it happened that day to prevent us from exercising our constitutional duty to get this done, with two thirds of the House Republicans voting that the election was not legitimate. And that’s really heartbreaking.
So, anyway, we were having the debate when the security just pulled me off the podium. Sometimes the staff takes me off the podium when they think the Republicans are going to do something obnoxious, and I went, “No, I can handle it. I can handle it.” And they said, “No, you have to go,” so fast that I even left my phone on the podium. I was using it so I could gauge the time as people were speaking. The parliamentarian tells me the time, but I like to know a little in advance. So, I left – they just pulled me right out. And they said at that point that they were storming the Capitol and the security just whisked [me] away. But it was stunning. But I know, again, they are protective. And I thought, “Well, okay, yeah, I’ll go with you because it’s your job to make sure that I do. And I don’t want to endanger anybody else.” And I’m a target, you know? So, when we got in the car, I said, “Well, where are we going? Like to another room?” “No, we’re going to an undisclosed location.”
SPEAKER PELOSI: But it wasn’t about me, because I had security; it was about my members. (HRC: Yeah.) And they were traumatized by it. Some were on the floor; some were in the Gallery watching. Because of COVID we had to have our distancing, and those up there had to go under their seats for a long time. And then they had to do a belly crawl across the Gallery so that they could have a safe egress from the Chamber, because if they had gone out the door they were nearest to, the protestors were there. They were there, and they were out to harm people.
HRC: Yes, they were. That’s becoming clearer and clearer every day with the evidence that is being found. It is terrifying, though, in my however many years now being in public life at a high level, you do have to follow your security. You sometimes grumble about it. You think, “Come on, you’re overreacting. I know it’s your job.” But, you know, when I’ve been told I need to put on a bulletproof vest or a bulletproof raincoat or people run up to the stage and grab my arm, it’s a terrifying experience. But as you rightly point out, this wasn’t only about you. This was about your members, Democrats and Republicans, because I know what a caring heart you have, Nancy. And just the image of these members elected to represent Americans crawling on their bellies to escape the House Chamber is just beyond outraging. And it was several hours before you were given the go ahead to return. What happened then?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, let me just say that first about my members, I’ve asked all of them to write a journal to record how they saw it. I said, “This is history. Your perspective, your individual perspectives are a very important part of that. And then in another month, I want you to write again your perspective,” because this is a pain that people will carry. (HRC: Yes.)
SPEAKER PELOSI: It’s a big scar on our nation. And again, people felt it very up close and personal then. So, I’ve asked them all. I said, “This will be the historic record.” And so, I’m very excited about seeing what they put down there because the world should know. Okay, so in a bipartisan way, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and I – Steny Hoyer was there, too, and Clyburn – we all agreed we had to go back to the Capitol. The security was making suggestions that we would all be transported by busses to an undisclosed location; the members would come there. I said, “No, the world has to see. Now, just get it ready. We’re coming back. And so, you give us a reasonable estimate as to when that could be, but understand this: We’re coming back, and we’re opening the session in the Capitol of the United States.” (Now, the place was still a mess, but that’s unimportant. It was safe for us.) “And we’re not coming back one minute before it’s safe, but not one minute after it’s safe. So, let’s just get that done.” And I think it was really important, but that was bipartisan. Mitch McConnell was very insistent as well that we do that. And I think it was important for our country and for the members.
HRC: I thought so, too. I was horrified by everything that I saw happening on television, but I was heartened by the return to the Capitol and to the business at hand. It was an absolutely essential message to send not only to our country, but to the world, and in particular, to those who thought that they could disrupt our democracy. I know that in the vandalization of your office, in addition to taking things like your lectern and other objects from your office, they left you a message that said, “We will not back down.” Well, you did not back down, and the leadership and the members did not back down. When you look forward, Nancy, what do you see as a path that you and members of Congress, and obviously the incoming Biden-Harris administration, but really Americans across our country, can follow to try to overcome the damage that has been done?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we have that responsibility, that’s for sure. But I do believe that Joe Biden is a unifier, that he will be as respectful as he is firm as we go forward. I do think we need a strong economic package that lifts people up. You said so beautifully in your campaign that people need to see a place for themselves in the future. Many of these people don’t see that place. He should show them that there is a place for them – that it’s not a zero-sum game. Women and minorities and LGBTQ people can thrive, not at their expense. When we’re addressing the climate crisis, it isn’t at the expense of their job.
Now, there’s one other element that I have been talking about for a long time that gives me great grief as a Catholic. I think that Donald Trump is president because of the issue of a woman’s right to choose. When he signed that paper saying, “These are the judges that I will appoint,” that was the dog whistle to the Evangelicals, to the Catholics, and all the rest. A woman will not have the right to choose. And when you see the polls about impeachment now, 80 percent think what happened was wrong; 70-some percent said he’s responsible, but 40-some percent don’t think he should be impeached. Well, why? One issue: abortion. (HRC: Right.)
SPEAKER PELOSI: And that is enough. When you take the greed of those who want their tax cut, that’s probably a small number, but nonetheless a number, and then you take the abortion issue – and many of these people are very good people; that’s just their point of view. But they were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.
HRC: And, you know, one of the terrible ironies of their position is that starting in the 90s under Democratic presidents, the abortion rate went way down. And with proper contraception and education and a stigma-free conversation, the numbers can continue to go way down. So, what’s really incredibly sad is how those who, in my opinion and experience, do not view this issue as a priority, have used the legitimate questions, concerns and, yes, understanding of faith, to obtain and use power.
SPEAKER PELOSI: What we said then was if you reject terminating a pregnancy, you should love contraception. (HRC: That’s right.) And again, there’s a great deal of hypocrisy here, because many of these people, of course, are not having 13 children. And as somebody who had five children almost exactly to the day in six years, I said to my colleagues, when you have five children in six years, you come around and talk to me as a Catholic. (HRC: Laughs.) You know, I come from a family that would like to see me soften my message on this subject, but they know this is something I am all the way with. And so, I understand and I respect their point of view – for them. (HRC: Right.) But that doesn’t mean it’s a point of view for somebody else.
HRC: Right. And your overall point is, you know, let’s have a true economic safety net. Let’s have a true jobs program, including an infrastructure program, which I know is at the heart of your commitment to the future. Let’s have a healthcare system that covers everyone with quality, affordable healthcare. And then let’s talk. You know, I think first things first.
HRC: We’ll be right back.
HRC: We learned a lot about our system of government over the last four years with a president who disdains democracy and, as you have said numerous times, has other agendas. What they all are, I don’t think we yet know. I hope historically we will find out who he’s beholden to, who pulls his strings. I would love to see his phone records to see whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol. But we now know that not just him, but his enablers, his accomplices, his cult members, have the same disregard for democracy. Do you think we need a 9/11-type commission to investigate and report everything that they can pull together and explain what happened?
SPEAKER PELOSI: I do. To your point of who is he beholden to, as I’ve said over and over, as I said to him in that picture with my blue suit as I was leaving, what I was saying to him as I was pointing, rudely, at him: “With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.” I don’t know what Putin has on him politically, financially, or personally, but what happened last week was a gift to Putin, because Putin wants to undermine democracy in our country and throughout the world. And these people, unbeknownst to them, maybe, are Putin puppets. They were doing Putin’s business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president of the United States.
So, yes, we should have a 9/11 Commission, and there is strong support in the Congress to do that. We can’t do that until we can pass a bill. And since the Senate’s not in, we’ll have to do that as soon as the Senate is in. But there is support for that. In the meantime, though, I’ve announced that General Honoré will be giving us guidance as to control and command. Clearly, there needs to be a restructuring of the infrastructure of security in the Capitol.
HRC: For listeners who may not know, General Honoré is the retired general who literally came to the rescue of the Katrina disaster recovery and reconstruction. His command presence, his sense of humor, his toughness are all ingredients to do exactly what you’ve asked him to do.
SPEAKER PELOSI: So, we’re not waiting for the commission, but the commission will have a bigger agenda and will get to the bottom of what complicity members of Congress have in all of this. And if they did, they should be prosecuted, as well as others – whether it’s in security… Anybody who has anything to do with the Capitol could have been a resource for whose offices were here. I didn’t care that they damaged things in my office. I don’t care about the things they broke, like the big mirror in the Speaker’s office. I don’t care about that. I do care that they traumatized my staff, young staff – traumatized them, scared them. If you could see the look in their eyes after having to be under the desk for nearly three hours, silent in the dark as people were pounding on the doors, out for blood.
HRC: When you returned that night to certify the election in those very same chambers that had been breached, it was an affirmation of democracy, but it was also a rebuke of the president on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue who tried to undermine our election. I know that you reached out to Vice President Pence. Can you tell us about that?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we had been in touch with Vice President Pence all during the time that we were in undisclosed locations. He was protected in the Capitol, although they were looking for him as well. They were going to hang him and do something violent to me, and the other members were expendable as well, in their view. So, during the day, we had a shared view that as soon as we could, we would resume the ascertaining that Joe Biden was president. And I have to say that he had resolved that the Constitution would be honored.
So, our communication was more in terms of how long did he think it would take, what intelligence was he getting compared to what we were getting; was it consistent? And then at some point, all of us were on the same call, at the same time: Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, and the Vice President. So, he was a positive factor in the course of the day. And I was very concerned that he was still in the Capitol. But he said at one point, the entourage of the vice president leaving the Capitol could have been provocative in some ways as well. So, that decision was made.
Following that, of course, we wanted him to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which he did not feel he could do. I was disappointed, because this president is a clear and present danger to the country. Every day that he is in office, every hour that he is in office, he can do something very damaging. Just for example, we got sworn in on January 3rd, a Sunday, not a normal day for swearing in. Normally, we would wait until Tuesday to get sworn in, but we could not give him that time, which would be recess between the end of one session and the beginning of another. He could appoint hundreds of appointees that would take maybe a year to undo and damage the ability of the Biden administration to make appointments and proceed with an agenda. So, we didn’t want to give him five minutes. We adjourned and we came in session right away. He’s a very dangerous man, and we had to make sure that we protected against anything he might do to hurt the country.
HRC: And you were so concerned that you actually called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in our country, to express your concern about this man starting a war, even, God forbid, using a nuclear weapon, didn’t you?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, here’s a man who is not allowed to be on Twitter, and yet he has access to the nuclear code. Really?? (HRC: That’s right.)
I think that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is a patriotic American; he understands his oath of office to the Constitution. I don’t know that he appreciated my call, but in any event, I thought it was very important to know that there had to be safeguards from this person who was unhinged.
HRC: He is unhinged.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Unhinged. And really, either doesn’t know what the Constitution says, or doesn’t care.
HRC: Yeah, I think it’s both. (SPEAKER PELOSI: Probably both.)
I think it’s both. And I was heartened by the statement the Joint Chiefs put out calling what happened a sedition and insurrection, which lays a framework and a foundation for the Congress to proceed to hold members accountable. If what we’re seeing and hearing proves to be true, that there were guided tours and information provided before the 6th and even during the attack, that’s unacceptable beyond the pale, and there has to be accountability.
You know, one of the things that gets lost in all of this, which you are never far from focusing on, is the agenda that you want to get passed with the new administration. And in particular, it is just heartbreaking that while this attack on our democracy proceeds, the numbers of Americans dying from COVID keep going up. Small businesses keep closing; unemployment requests keep rising. The vaccine rollout is too slow. So, you’re once again going to be in the position of balancing how we hold the president and everyone else accountable with the very urgent needs that the people of America have. How are you thinking about that? At least you’re going to have good partners with the incoming Biden-Harris administration, and, thankfully, control of the Senate.
SPEAKER PELOSI: It makes a big difference. The day of the insurrection, 3,686 people died of coronavirus. The next day, 4,000 people died. The record keeps being broken. It’s so sad. And when you think – it’s January – go back a year when the president was first apprised of this, and then the subsequent actions he took. “It’s a hoax,” denial, delay, rejection of science, rejection of governance. See, they don’t believe in governance, so if the government says “Wear a mask,” they have to reject governance and they reject the science that says wear the mask.
So, a lot of these deaths – not all – many of these deaths are at the president’s doorstep. We’re recognizing there has to be a change in the attitude of the American people and the availability of the vaccine now in a fair and equitable way. I’m very pleased at the agenda of the rescue and recovery package that Joe Biden has put forth; his agenda is very close to what we had in our legislation already. As you said, the infrastructure piece includes creating good paying jobs in our country with workforce development so that many more people can participate. Many more small businesses, women, minorities, people of color, Native Americans, veterans, rural businesses, can participate in how we build back better. So, we’re very excited about it. And I would hope that we could do so in a bipartisan way. Infrastructure has usually not been a partisan issue. (HRC: Right.)
Hopefully, we can find common ground there. But I don’t have to tell you the importance of the bully pulpit of the president of the United States. So, when people talk about, “Well, you couldn’t convince them of this or that,” no, we didn’t have the bully pulpit. So, having that bully pulpit is going to, I think, make a very big difference, as we said earlier, that people see a place for themselves economically, for themselves and their children. It takes some of the edge off of that insecurity.
HRC: We’re taking a quick break. Stay with us.
HRC: I’m going to be at the inauguration; I know you’ll be at the inauguration.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Such as it will be.
HRC: I know that it’s not going to be like any inauguration we’ve ever attended, but I think it’s possible, once it’s finalized and we have a new president and a new vice president, to proceed on both the economic agenda and the democracy agenda. One of the very first bills that you passed in the Congress back after the 2018 election was to fix our voting system, to set the rules so that these arguments and these conspiracy theories can be easily deflected or punctured because we all know what the rules are. And I’m really looking forward to the Congress acting on both the economy and democracy and all that that will mean for the country.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, I appreciate your saying that, and that will be a large part of our agenda when we go in. I talked about building back better, but to build back better, people have to have the confidence that their voice means something, that their participation means something, that it won’t be guided by big dark money or abuse of the system in terms of the voting rights and the rest of that.
But let me just say to you, thank you. The inspiration that you are, the courage – see, courage is the thing. When people talk about their convictions and their commitment to this or that, do they have the courage to make the fight? Can they take the heat that goes with it? And you – I often wondered when you were in the White House and since, how does she do it? Because these people are so – they have such bad intentions. It’s one thing that we feel confident in what we believe in, that we’ve come to fight and debate and prevail or compromise, find a way. We respect differences of opinion. But what happened during the Clinton years, those particular presidential Clinton years, coming from Newt Gingrich and the Congress of the United States, the House of Representatives in particular, changed. That was the threshold that was crossed that went from differences of opinion to the politics of personal destruction. (HRC: Right.)
You handled it so patriotically, so personally strong, a real inspiration to the country. But to women, something so very, very special. I keep saying to women, “Another woman’s success is your success. You don’t have to be concerned. Take heart with that.” You made a difference. You changed it. It was transformative, what you did for our country. I’m getting emotional even to talk about it, because our whole family, you know, we feel personally loving to you for your contribution to the country, but particularly to the courage, the brilliance, the vision that you had, the knowledge of all these things. Nobody, nobody in recent times is as qualified as you to be president of the United States. Now, Joe Biden, he was vice president, but up until then, George Bush, Barack Obama – they would admit; Bill Clinton would admit.
HRC: Well, I just feel very blessed to have been able to stand up for our country, and I know that’s how you feel, Nancy. I mean, it sounds maybe to some ears listening incredibly old fashioned and out of date, but if you’re raised to love America with all of its faults – it’s like the unconditional love you want to give to a child or that a child hopes to get from a parent. You’re not a perfect person. We are not a perfect country. But we have come so far toward trying to realize our fundamental founding values. And I think what gets me up in the morning, and I know what gets you up in the morning, is to continue to stand up for those values despite the storms that can be created around us.
And you have been – speaking of beacons – the extraordinary leader that we needed at this time. And I can only thank you and pass on not only my gratitude, but I know the gratitude of many, many hundreds of millions of people here at home and around the world that in one of our country’s darkest hours, we had a leader like you.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, you’re nice to say that.
HRC: I will be there in your corner cheering you on, doing everything I can to be part of the effort to build back better and not only deal with our immediate problems, but our long term challenges that our country faces.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, I thank you for your very kind words, I as I say accept on behalf of my House Democrats who are so courageous. It takes no courage for me. My district gives me so much latitude, but for them it doest. But I’ll also just say I said this – I said this about you before – when people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. Their health, their education, the economic security, their families, safe environment in which they can thrive and a world at peace in which they can reach their fulfillment. And as I’ve said about you, nobody’s done more for “our children, our children, our children” than Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton. And now that you’re a grandmother, we all understand it’s all about the future. [HRC: That’s right.] You know, we can take care of our children, but the grandchildren, they’re our messengers to the future, as Elijah Cummings would say, a message to a future that we will never see. So I thank you for that. I always say to the women, “when you get into the arena, you have to be ready to take a punch. But you also have to be ready to throw a punch – for the children.
HRC: Amen. We will wrap up on the note of, I think, your nine grandchildren? [Speaker Pelosi: Yes.] And my three grandchildren. So we have a dozen perfectly good reasons to get up every day and continue the fight for the future we want, not just for our grandkids, but really for every child [Speaker Pelosi: All the children] to live up to his or her God given potential. That’s what it’s all about.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
SPEAKER PELOSI: My pleasure. My pleasure. Thank you.
HRC: Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, now serving her fourth term in that position. She is the second in line to the presidency after the vice president, and she’s the first woman ever elected to be Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America.
HRC: Well, that’s it for now. We’ll be back in mid-February to celebrate a new president and vice president, a new Congress, and hopefully, a new chance to bring about the real changes our country desperately needs right now. You and Me Both is brought to you by iHeartRadio. We’re produced by Julie Subrin, Kathleen Russo, and Lauren Peterson, with help from Huma Abedin, Nikki Ettore, Oscar Flores, Lindsay Hoffman, Brianna Johnson, Nick Merrill, Rob Russo, and Lona Valmoro. Our engineer is Zach McNees, and original music is by Forrest Gray. If you like You and Me Both, please share it with your friends. Let them know they can subscribe to You and Me Both on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening, and see you soon for Season Two.