Opinion | Nancy Pelosi: ‘If The Election Were Held Today, We Would Win It All’

I’m Kara Swisher, and this is one hell of a year. But welcome to “Sway” anyway, my new podcast about power. Here’s a convenient one-page set-up guide, which I hope I never have to read again. Many years ago, I was one of the first reporters on the internet beat, and I watched as a bunch of nerds and misfits accumulated wealth and power the private sector hadn’t seen since the robber barons of the 19th century. Except, those robber barons were much better dressed. They’re not bad guys, and they are almost all guys. And I know them well.

But their products can be bad for the world, as it’s turned out. And until recently, the other institutions of power in this country didn’t seem remotely interested in holding any of them accountable. That started to change, and I like to think I played some small role in it. But there’s a whole world of people out there whose power goes uninterrogated. That’s my goal — not to interrogate with, like, klieg lights, although I do have a set, of course, but interrogate, like really, deeply examine. It’s a twitchy Twitter world. It’s noisy. It’s awful. And yes, I’m guilty of it, too. But “Sway” is going to take its time. [MUSIC CHANGE]

President Trump and his fellow Republican leaders say that they want to move forward with filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.

By the time you hear this, the machinery of influence in the nation’s capital will have begun to whir and clank. The fight to fill the empty seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on.

But here’s the thing. In a world where a majority of the court looks for any excuse to strike down progressive legislation, a Democrat-controlled Congress will have to get more and more creative. And the person at the head of a body that writes the laws may be about to become even more powerful. That person is Nancy Pelosi. [MUSIC CHANGE]

— the first one from California, the first Italian American, she took over the House just in time to prove herself one of the most sophisticated political operators in the history of Congress. While a lot of people take credit, she was critical in getting Obamacare through, holding together from nervous party by knocking heads, keeping receipts, and making promises. And now, 20 million more Americans have health care for an extra $1 trillion a year out of Americans’ pockets.

The motion to concur in the Senate amendment is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

That’s power. But the quiet deal-making that constitutes her power is under threat and is being tested now as severely as ever as she leads the Democrats’ efforts to get through another massive coronavirus stimulus bill and risks walking away with nothing at all. [MUSIC ENDS] Speaker Pelosi, thanks for speaking to me. It’s been a tumultuous weekend in Washington. Let’s start with the news about our RBG. How are you doing?

I don’t think any of us are doing very well, personally. This was a petite woman who was a giant and powerhouse when it came to brilliant, strategic thinking, legal knowledge. She did more for equality for women than anyone you could name. RBG just was synonymous with every good thing that comes our way as women. It’s hard for me to talk about her because I personally loved her so much. And you know, she’s 87 years old. She had these diagnoses. It shouldn’t have been a surprise but nonetheless, heartbreaking.

It’s hard to think about the personal relationships that people have in Washington. How did you encounter her?

Well, I told her daughter yesterday, her daughter Jane, I said, you know, one of the best compliments I ever received was one time — this is probably more than 10 years ago — she pulled me aside at an occasion and she said, because you are my friend, because we are good friends, I want to tell you something that will be in the news but I want you to know personally before it happened. And that is that I have been diagnosed with cancer. And of course, I reacted emotionally to that. And she said, but I want you to know that I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be OK. How she knew that, just because she’s so courageous. I’m going to be OK. But I remember that evening because of where she began it — because we are friends, I want you to know this. And then she got diagnosed again, again, and now this last time. But the strength, the courage, the determination that she had in everything that she did, including fighting her fight. But what I do know is that she would want us to be as concerned about the 200,000 people who have died from the coronavirus and the impact on their families.

But life has to go on, and politics definitely marches on, whether you like it or not. And you have to keep moving forward with your political goals, right?

Well, I don’t think that it was appropriate that within hours of the news of her passing came forth that the leader in the Senate made his announcement. I think we do want people to rest in peace. We do want to extend condolences and sympathy to their families. We do want to absorb the shock it is to all of us. And for that statement to just trigger so much reaction I thought was completely cruel and inappropriate.

OK, but Trump has a list of front-runners to replace Justice Ginsburg and said that he will announce his nomination this week. Ultimately, the decision rests in the Senate, not the House. But is there anything you can do to influence what happens next?

Well, I have arrows in my quiver, in the House quiver, and one of my arrows is not to say what the arrows are.

But I will say this — vote, vote, vote, vote. It’s so important. The prospect of people voting, I think, will be a message to the Republicans about how receptive they are to moving so quickly on this. The other part of it is that people should know that the Congress — House, Senate, and White House being Democratic — we can overturn some of the damage done by the injustices that would spring from this court. Let me give you an example. When the Lilly Ledbetter’s case was being debated in the —

This was about women’s pay. And the injustice of it all to women, it’s shocking. Nonetheless, the court ruled against women in the workplace. Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent. The dissent became the Lilly Ledbetter law that was passed by House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama as the very first bill he signed about improving the opportunities for women in the workplace. Her dissent became the law.

Well, one of Justice Ginsburg’s famous quotes is that dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way. The greatest dissents do become court opinions. And gradually, over time, their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenters hope, that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow. Speaker Pelosi, do you think you can create legislation that’s creative enough to, quote, “speak to a future age,” particularly in light of the headwinds from an uncooperative judiciary?

Well, we certainly will never give up the fight for making health care affordable and accessible in a quality way to the American people. We would hope that we could have a fair shot in the court on this. The president doesn’t want a fair shot on this, and so that’s why he’s in a hurry to make an appointment. And that’s why the election is important, to send a message to these senators who were up this time. We’re here. We know what’s happening. And again, some people who are not particularly Democratic or Republican but do care about a preexisting condition, millions more of them now because of the coronavirus.

All right, let me give you one of your arrows in your quiver. If the court overturns Roe but you have Biden and a Democratic Senate, what will you do specifically to help protect abortion rights in red states, and can you do anything if the GOP keeps the Senate?

Well, that would be much harder. That’s why we want people to vote now. Let me just say this. They’ve had the House and Senate and Republican president for a while. They’ve, by and large, been fakers on Roe v. Wade when they could have done it. They didn’t. They just like to use it. But now, I think with the, shall we say— I don’t what the word is to use about this president, but the lack of balance that is there, you never know what he may try to do. But this is vital. And if the court cares anything about precedent, they will not overturn Roe v. Wade.

All right, but specifically, what can you do? Are there things you can pass to protect these? Because there will be abortions in certain states if it’s overturned, and there won’t be in others. And of course, abortion rights have been made smaller all over the country and restricted. What specifically do you have in mind to protect those rights?

Right now, what we’re fighting is some decisions in the court, which may not overturn Roe v. Wade but will enable states to effectively deprive a woman of that right.

Well, that is, or they could overturn the whole law, which would, I think, caused such an outcry for them that they might even find that, as we say, too hot to handle. But again, the fight that we have is still the fight that’s going on in the states, and that’s a fight that we make in the courts. Now, we can see what our options are, depending on how the election goes, as to how we can protect a woman’s right to choose. But I do think that this is a big issue in our country. Now I’m an Italian-American Catholic family. My family I came from doesn’t share my position on this issue, but I, as a mother of five children in six years almost to the day, I’m just overjoyed that my husband and I are but don’t think that we should be making that decision for anybody else.

So this is a show about power. What do you think was the power of RBG?

It’s so sad. I mean, her power, of course, was her brilliance. As people said, even before she was on the court, she had already put forth a lifetime of achievement, even at a young age, because of her brilliance. She respected and listened to other people and then made her case in a very, very strong way. And that’s important. You can have the brilliance. You can have the strategic thinking. You have to command the respect, but she could write it, too.

OK, but you have pressing goals to move forward. And I do want to talk about the stimulus bill — or the lack of one, actually. You’ve said you’re not budging on this relief bill, which is at an impasse between the Democrats and Republicans. Can you give me an update of how to look at it? Because a lot of people accuse both the Democrats and the GOP of squandering this summer, even as people across the country have become more desperate. And in the words of Martin Luther King, which I know you know this quote, “there is a fierce urgency of now.”

There is a fierce urgency of now, and we have, I think, a moral decision to make. This is a massive problem and challenge that we face in our country, and the Republicans have put forth an emaciated, as Chuck Schumer calls it, an emaciated bill. And I’m so proud that every Senate Democrat voted against it.

And when people call it a skinny deal, I said, there’s no such thing as a skinny deal. A skinny deal is a Republican bill. And we have a challenge in our country to our economy that begins with the health and well-being of the American people. Unless we crush this virus, we’re just biding time, in terms of how many more families are going to be affected economically, as well as health wise by this. So it isn’t a question of turf or power or anything else. It’s a question of meeting the needs of the American people. And we cannot miss that opportunity by saying, well, let’s just do this little thing so we can cover whatever we’re covering.

All right, so aside from this skinny bill, which you call the emaciated bill, why not take the $1.5 trillion compromise? You have 25 Democrats, 25 Republicans. You were very quick to shoot that down, and this is a group of people who are worried about not just the election, but their constituents.

Well, I have over 230 Democrats in the House. Many of them think very differently from that proposal. So 25 is interesting, but it’s 25. Now, what is important to note is that I have a very dynamic caucus. I have a difference of opinion on almost every subject you can name and great ideas of leadership as to how we should proceed. And that’s exciting. I would not want to be the head of any rubber-stamp caucus or Congress, and that’s not what we are. So we are, by and large, overwhelmingly, the progressives want us to bring up the $3.4 trillion bill back to the floor. Others want us to just do a bill that says, this is what we would do if only they would come along. And then I want to have an agreement, which means you have to compromise. So while the amount of money is one thing, how you spend it is another. And since we passed our bill four months ago, money things have emerged as, once again, as needs, of course, the virus did not dissipate as people had hoped. And it wouldn’t unless they would do testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera that we have in our bill.

No, no, no, we’re $3.4 trillion. We came down $1 trillion to meet them halfway. It does not meet the needs of the American people. It doesn’t do what it needs to do to fight the virus, which is how we’re going to open our economy and how we’re going to open our schools safely for our children. No, it’s not enough.

Neither does a bill that doesn’t exist. You’ve kept the House there to work on this. And before, when you’ve had other issues like this — and of course, it’s not right before an election — a lot of voters and a lot of people are worried about the idea that this is just election posturing from both sides. And you used, interestingly, a Holocaust reference, the Sophie’s choice. It’s from the William Styron book.

That’s a pretty tough thing to use. So you don’t feel that there is compromise here? You’re well known for being able to compromise.

Well, yes, and I’m a legislator. As I say to members, our title is representative. Our responsibility is to represent our districts as legislators, and to legislate is difficult. “To govern is to choose,” said President Kennedy. It’s hard. You have to make choices. But let me just say this, because I used the Sophie’s choice analogy. I said the following: 14 million children in America are food insecure and their families as well. Millions of those families are on the verge of eviction. None of that is covered in what the Republicans have put forth. The virus needs to be crushed. We have $75 billion in our bill with the plan that science, science, science tells us is necessary to do. They had $15. We had $75. They said, we’ll compromise at $16. We’re fooling ourselves. We’re fooling ourselves. So you cannot just say, well, I’ll just cover my you-know-what by going for the path of least resistance for the smallest amount when we have a massive moral challenge in our country.

So putting aside the Republican bill, which didn’t succeed — it didn’t succeed in the Senate either — is not this other build from the problem solvers a framework? Does that become a framework where you can come to —

No, it does not because you have to start at the kitchen table of the American people. And in terms of that you have to start, significantly — look, the Fed, and I’m not complaining about this, the Fed is spending trillions of dollars to bolster the stock market, to keep credit flowing, very important. And that’s good. Why can’t we spend trillions of dollars to bolster the middle class of our country? Is it the price? You think they’re not worth it? Or is it the money, you’d rather spend it someplace else? It’s either the price or the money. But why can we not meet the needs of the American people? They don’t have anything in their bill for that.

So did Trump calling for more money help you? It sort of threw you a bit of a lifeline, and you just talked again with Secretary Mnuchin. What have you talked about with him?

Whatever Trump says it’s not a lifeline because it’s never reliable, so don’t take that to the bank.

But when you talked to Secretary Mnuchin, how do you get to a compromise then? Where is the path?

Well, my conversation with Mnuchin was really about the continuing resolution to keep government open. That was what that conversation was about. I have said from the start, we’re going to keep government open. Now they say they’re going to. We’ll see if they agree. We’ll have a bill on the floor that does just that in a very clean way.

Where do you go? Because whatever the Republicans do, people are also going to blame the Democrats.

But you know what? We have to take responsibility. We’re not worrying about that. What we’re worrying about is the fact that millions of people are hungry, on the verge of eviction, concerned about sending their children to school in an unsafe way, having uncertainty, especially in communities of color, that this virus is spreading in a disproportionate way in their communities. The state and local government has nothing but the disdain of the president who says he’s not going to respect our heroes, our health care workers, our police and fire first responders, our transportation, our sanitation, our food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. We would not be functioning as a society without our state and local governments, and the president says, we’re not sending any money. It’s blue states. Really?

Where do you press then? When you did the ACA, which I think most people really attribute to your muscling it through, you said, you go through a gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. We’re going to get health reform passed for the American people. Where is your pole vault here? Where is that for you? And aside from the Republicans, how are you going to use your power to make them do something?

Well, I believe in the American people. They understand, people are hurting. We have to meet their needs, not give the president a chance to just say, I’m going to put my name on a check, send it out, and don’t talk to me about food, rent, first responders, health care workers, the virus, or anything else. That’s all he wants is his name on a check that goes out.

State and local government provide everything for us. They’re where our services largely come from. If you want to talk about education, we’re unhappy about the kind of money and how they want to spend it at the federal level, but that’s a small percentage of the money. Over 90% the money comes from state and local government, which is firing teachers as we speak. Over 1 million, maybe 1.5 million for public employees at the state and local level have been fired. It could go up to 5 or 6 million people if we don’t get this bill. Now, those people will lose their jobs. They will then go on unemployment insurance. What’s the good of that? Wouldn’t it be better for them to meet the needs of the people rather than cutting services, raising taxes, firing people, and putting them on unemployment insurance? So we’re looking at it comprehensively. You’re saying, just so they have a check in their pocket, it doesn’t matter if they have food and the rent.

I get that. So what is your pole vault to get there? How are you going to pole vault over this?

We’re just going to keep making our case. And I want to tell you something. You may not know this.

The poll that came out 49% to 30%, the American people support how the congressional Democrats are supporting the coronavirus challenge.

So you’re just going to keep making your — But the actual mechanics, the operation mechanics of making it happen, are you are you optimistic?

We are legislating. And if the president does not want to legislate and just wants to have his name on a check, that ain’t going to happen.

All right, so your relationship with President Trump is an interesting one. You serve as a foil for him in a lot of ways. You’ve never been shy to speak your mind with him, like ripping up his speech at the State of the Union. You’re Speaker of the House though, and you haven’t spoken to him in almost a year. Do you get a sense that you should be speaking to him, given you are the most powerful Democrat at this moment?

That’s how he hears things. And again, I want to have a witness to what I have to say to him.

What’s the use? He’s an unreliable contact. We’ve had occasions, even in the public domain, where you’ve had Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, around a table where he will say, you just bring me a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, and I will sign it. He’ll say that — Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, right there on live TV — and then he doesn’t.

Well, I don’t know who’s in charge there. If he says one thing and does another, who changes his mind? I don’t know.

One of your ways is sort of to treat him like a baby in some ways, like a moron, I mean, the way you talk to him.

I mean, when I was in the Oval Office and he started to be condescending about whether I could speak for my House Democrats, I spoke out. But I didn’t plan to do that. As I say, I really wasn’t going to speak with the press there because any time you’re speaking in front of the press with the president there, you’re either contradicting him or correcting him because he usually doesn’t know what he’s talking about, A. B, then when I walked out, people said, oh, how did you know to wear that coat? I said, well, I didn’t know to wear that coat. It was clean. Maybe that’s how I knew to wear it. The tearing up of the speech, I was about halfway through the speech when I decided to do that.

Who is your audience? Is it him? Are you trying to get under his skin? What’s the goal?

No, he’s not. The audience was my own integrity. This speech was a pack of lies, a pack of lies. So I thought, well, I’ll tear that page. I was thinking, oh, I got to tear that page up. It’s a lie. That page and that page — and then finally, it was like the whole speech was a pack of lies. And he dishonored the chamber of the House of Representatives by being so political. We don’t do that.

All right, but let me just say, you’re not Nancy the suburban housewife just sitting there tearing up papers. You’re Nancy, the Speaker of House.

That’s right, Speaker of the House, co-equal branch of government, article one, the first branch of government tearing up the speech.

So you felt this was — even though in these moments, it’s quite dramatic, whether it’s the sunglasses, whether it’s the tearing up of the speech, whether it’s the tiny clapping. [LAUGHS] Well, the tiny clapping, I don’t know what else —

I like the best when I’m pointing to him. With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin. And he put out the picture.

That’s your favorite, OK. But at the same time, some people think that you don’t go far enough, that you’re too operational. I’ve had several different people I talk to saying the impeachment wasn’t far enough.

I understand that. But do you think taking baby steps has been helpful with this president?

And by the way, I have two things to say about your question. One is that I have great reliance on my committees and how they develop what they think is the best way for us to proceed. It’s not me telling other people. We build consensus. That’s why we have unity in our caucus.

In spite of all of our differences, and they are vast, we build consensus. And that was the consensus, and that’s how we went forward. As far as my own behavior, apart from the committees and this or that, what I have — says she immodestly — is authenticity. And that’s I do what I believe, and that’s what it is. I don’t do it all the time. There are many other things I believe about him that should be said. But again, I have to go out there with my best shot.

All right, but should you hit even harder? Because treating him like a toddler works only so far unless it’s the demon seed, and then the toddler has complete control, destroying things. The same thing, like, why not impeach Bill Barr? Is there a stronger way to deal with these people? You have other tools, and you are a Nancy Pelosi.

Bill Barr is a complete henchman. He’s a disgrace to the office he holds. He shouldn’t even be a lawyer. He should be disbarred. We’ve held him in contempt of Congress. But he is an employee, and the villain here is Donald Trump. And that is what we have to do is to make sure that he is not reelected.

All right. When you talk about this idea of him being an employee or a henchman, which is your word, you still have power to do something about it, to hit harder.

He’s a waste of time. I think he’s a waste of time. Right now, we have the election. The fact is, he’s not worth it because we have a pandemic. And it’s hard enough to convince this administration that they should stop the pandemic but at least testing, tracing, treatment, face masks, isolation, sanitation, than to waste our time on Barr. That’s what I think.

All right, so let’s focus on Trump then. So he’s a waste of time, so Trump is not. So one person wrote yesterday, on Twitter of all things, “the instinct to compromise looks like capitulation. And what was interesting is many years ago, Rahm Emanuel said about you, a lot of Democrats are uncomfortable with the use of power. Nancy Pelosi is not.” What can you do to rein in the power of the president? It seems like this is persistent. It’s relentless. It doesn’t stop. You’re fixing something over here then something happens over here. It’s everywhere. So how do you rein in the power of the president? If you want to not look at his henchmen, if you want to not look at his employees, how do you do that?

Well, we’re going to have to win the United States Senate because of what we have in the Congress of the United States are just a herd of enablers of the president. But that’s who they are. People have to understand. They say to me, oh, I bet those members of Congress are so embarrassed by him. No, he’s their guy. He’s their guy. Name any subject — name a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ rights, climate issues, immigration, gun safety, fairness in our economy. He’s their champion. They think just like him. They are the current version of congressional Republicans. I tell people in the Republican Party, take back your party. This isn’t who you are. You’ve been hijacked. You’ve been hijacked, and now it’s turning into a cult of personality for Donald Trump. So in order to do many things you suggest, you have to have a Democratic Senate, which is what we’re working on as well.

But then we have to win the White House. But let me just say that even with a Democrat in the White House, even if it’s a Democrat, we do think there have to be guardrails more pronounced. Our founders had them in the Constitution. They never thought somebody would come in, act the way Trump has, kick over the guardrails. So we have to make sure —

Because norms and laws only work when enforced. And you often call him lawless, the word you use. And it reminds me a little bit of being a Sheriff in a Western town. You’re from the West. And the villain comes in and breaks the saloon and makes a mess of everything and continues to do it. Where is the law then? I know it sounds like a crazy question because you’re one of the most powerful forces in this country and in the world. Have people underestimated your power and the power of Congress and you particularly? And how has that affected your ability to do your jobs and to get things done?

Well, I am very powerful. The power of the Speaker is awesome, says she. [LAUGHS] I don’t mean I am, but the power of the Speaker is awesome. And we are able to bring legislation to the floor. We’re able also to stop certain initiatives of the other side, should they have the White House or the other body. But this is really what is important about this election. Arnold Toynbee talked about it in his histories of civilizations and the rest. You start a new society, you’ll have two governing models. One of them is there, the flowering elites, to enable the people to reach their fulfillment, their flowering, and there they use their power for that purpose. Or you have the exploiting elites, and they are there for power and money. And when you have them both in the same society, economy, you have a schism of the soul of the country, and that’s what we have now because they had no interest in anything but the special dark interest in whose pocket they are, whether it’s fossil fuel or gun industry, corporate America, you name it.

And we are on the other hand saying, this has to bubble up, and people have to have their — and not only is it right for the people, it is what is important for the economy to prosper because consumer confidence is what makes an economy really thrive.

All right, but I’m going to press you one more time. What is your power to do this? I get the election, but you can get up more. You can speak out more. You can do more impeachments, things like that. Do you have enough power?

Well, we can impeach him every day of the week for anything he does. In fact, for —

— 200,000 people dying. Well, because look, the American people want to know what we’re doing that affects them directly.

They want good-paying jobs. And in our campaign, in the last election, when we won, we had a very simple formula — for the people, we will lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We would increase paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green way, and we would have cleaner government by reducing the role the big, dark money in politics. It was a winning message for us, and it continues to be our message. Now, in the off-year elections, we’re the center stage. We’re the center stage. Now we are the lounge act, and the presidential is the center stage. And so we look forward to supporting those values in the candidacy of Joe Biden. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Apologies for doing this, but I want to remind you a prediction you made about the presidential election when I interviewed you back in 2016. Sorry to do this to you, but please, play the clip. [LAUGHING]

Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States. Take it to the bank. I guarantee it.

Oh, Nancy, the bank, I took it to the bank. What happened? I mean, what went wrong from your perspective?

Yeah, I know. I was very wrong. Well, I mean, he’s so disgusting personally, and it was just really hard to see how the American people would vote for somebody who said what he said about women, said what he said about some of the leaders in our in our country and the rest, my misjudgment about what the public was willing to fall for. However, that cannot happen. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That’s where we are.

I think he will win, but we’re going to make sure that he wins. Let me just say it this way, and this is what I should’ve said to you before. But I really did honestly believe and I take full responsibility for the comment that I made to you then. If the election were held today, we would win it all. We would not only hold the House, but increase our numbers. We would win the Senate, governorships, state, local government, all that, and we would win the electoral college. The election is not today. So we have to put one good day in front of another — no underutilized resources, no wasted time, and no regrets the day after the election. We laugh at my stupidity in thinking that this man could not be elected because he said terrible things. Well, I guess that’s OK with some people.

But the fact is, we have to have much more clarity about what we are doing for those kitchen-table issues — job security, pension security, health care, health care, health care.

All right, let me paint you a different future. Trump wins. What is your legislative priority in that scenario? What do you do then? What do you change?

Quite frankly, it would be almost impossible to entertain the thought of Trump in a second term.

Our country is a great country, and we could withstand one term. A second term, in terms of what it means to the courts and what it means to all of our values in the country, what it means to our constitution, what it means to our land, from sea to shining sea, this beautiful land, he disrespects the Constitution. He degrades the environment and land every day, or, say, two, three times a week, and he dishonors our values as a country. So we just have to make sure that he does not win.

All right, but look, that’s just a Tuesday, Madame Speaker, OK? What are you going to do if that is the case? What is your strategy? Election day, November 4, he is still the president. What is your strategy? Do you just not have one? You have to be thinking —

No, when he won before, right away, we thought, well, he talked about infrastructure in the campaign. He talked about it all the time. And so every conversation I had with him for a long time always came back to infrastructure. So we thought he really did want to build the infrastructure of America, until it was time to pay for it when he stomped out the door when it came time to pay for it. Then we realized he wasn’t serious about it. Also, he said during the campaign that when it came to prescription drugs, he was going to negotiate like crazy to get cost down. Well, like crazy meant not at all. But we still thought infrastructure, prescription drugs, health care — we can work together from what he said in the campaign and then that evaporated.

But in the next term, whoever the president is — let’s frame it that way — infrastructure will be a very important. It’s a job creator. To do it in a green way is very important, and it’s about everything. You could go into an infrastructure bill.

Sure. Building sustainability into whatever infrastructure bill you come up with is going to be crucial. But do the fires surrounding your district add an even greater urgency to your initiatives on the climate change?

No, it’s always been my primary issue. When I was Speaker the first time, my flagship issue was the climate issue. And we passed a big bill with George Bush. In the next term with President Obama, the second piece of is energy. You can’t do climate without energy. But the climate bill we passed in the House couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate. But as soon as we had the Speakership again, put it into a select committee again, has made recommendations that are so transformative and so into the future, and we already have passed in the House some of that legislation for infrastructure. Now, on that score, the problem we’ve had with Republicans in Congress even before Trump is they’ve been in denial about climate or in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry or some combination thereof. So even before he got there, we could never have the legislation we wanted even in the majority, even with a Democratic president that would address the climate issue. We will after this election. But it is very urgent. We don’t have that much time.

All right, so say you get what you want — you get the Senate and you get —

I was at a DNC meeting that you invited me to. I was there with my son, and he remarked that it’s like a family reunion where no one likes each other but you’re the glue holding them together, kind of like a mom. [LAUGHING] Now, I assume you sort of see yourself that way.

But one of the things that had happened, which has been pushed aside because of Trump — you’re all united against President Trump — how are the relationships among the various factions that you have to preside over?

You have the centrist members. You have your progressive members. It’s sort of writ large what’s going to happen to the entire Democratic party if they win.

No, I’ve, been in the Democratic party for decades, and I used to be chair of the California Democratic party. And if you want to see diversity from right to left, you would see it there. So we’ve always been proud of our diversity in every way — ethnically, gender, gender ID, generational, all the rest, including philosophically. There is a range of thinking in the Democratic party. But make no mistake — as I say, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power. And our power is about protecting America’s working families from right to left, from right to left. And so to have a debate within the party on issues or personalities and rest is perfectly appropriate. That’s who we are. We are not the rubber stamp that the Republican Party is, nor would we ever want to be. But we do know that we’re here for America’s working families. There is absolutely no disagreement or nuance about that.

Do you have a strategy to keep that group together if you prevail? Are you worried about sort of a civil war within your group?

No, not at all. You understand, we passed bills like the Affordable Care Act and other things, impeach the president and the rest because we build consensus. This is not something from on high. This is what we’re going to do. We build consensus for the boldest, most progressive position to go forward, understanding how, for example, a message that will work in my district in California does not necessarily work in a electoral college state.

Well, let’s take Michigan because we’ll win Illinois. Let’s take Michigan. What works in Michigan will work in California. We’re talking about working families. What works in San Francisco, pushing it further, may not work in Michigan. So what we have to do is win. So in any case, when we’re having some of our intramurals, it’s about winning the electoral college. It’s about winning the United States Senate.

And that is the decision that I have to make. As far as some of the differences we have within our party, there ain’t nothing anybody can come up with that I don’t have a sign in my basement about, way to the left.

You promised you’d limit yourself to two more terms. Do you want to remain Speaker for longer than you had promised?

No. Well, I’m not making any comments now. I’m on a mission. I’m not on a timetable. But at the time, I only thought I’d be staying one more term. But of course, I wasn’t planning on Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. Who could have ever thought such a horrible thing could happen to our country, but it did.

All right, so you’re going to have QAnon members in the Congress. How are you going to deal with that?

Well, I think the Republican Party is going to have to deal with that within its ranks.

You know, well, there’ll be a vote. The House of Representatives retains the right to seat members of Congress. The members of their districts, the people, choose who they want to represent them, how the election comes out —

There we are. Sorry, I’m going to rush this. I know you have a rush. Sorry.

OK, all right, I’m going to do it so fast. All right, very quickly, so with QAnon, will you seat them if they start to spew? You dealt with Steven King before.

But actually, QAnon is an issue for the Republicans in the Congress of the United States. We have an election to get through yet with very high stakes for our democracy. And the Republicans make a big deal of talking about law and order, and I will be interested to see how they deal with law and order when it comes to QAnon.

But we’re concerned more, frankly, about the president trying to declare victory or to usurp the votes of the electoral college and the rest. So that’s what our priority is.

All right, Facebook, QAnon has been very active on Facebook, and it’s been a facilitator of its platform. How much do you hold Facebook accountable for this? You’ve had your wrangling with them.

I hold them very accountable. I hold them very accountable. QAnon has used the “save the children” as a hashtag while they spew forth their poison and attract millions of people because “save the children,” that sounds attractive, doesn’t it? And what you’ve just described is violence, and I don’t see the Republicans speaking out against that, whereas Joe Biden has said we are for peaceful demonstrations. That’s part of our democracy. That does not include rioting, starting fires, or looting.

In terms of Facebook, Facebook has been totally disreputable in so much of this. In 2016, when the Russians interfered in our election and rubles were coming in and they had to know that these were not on the level of American sites, they said, well, we never thought to look at that. So they played that role in that election. I don’t know how the Facebook board of directors or their top employees can look themselves in the mirror. They have clearly chosen. Their business plan is to make money off of poison, and that’s the path they have chosen to go.

Well, we are looking at the 230, our committees of jurisdiction. Again, you have to handle it with care so that we’re not hurting smaller platforms or freedom of speech. On the other hand, we’re not enabling a Facebook to just get rich at the expense of our democracy.

OK. If President Trump loses, Biden has said that he wouldn’t stand the way of prosecution of Trump. Do you think he should be prosecuted, or do you allow law enforcement to weigh in on that decision?

Well, one of the bills that we are putting forth as we go forward — and you said, following up on some of what went before — is that the statute of limitation should not include while the president is in office. So that would be time for law enforcement to exercise. I, frankly, had not heard Biden’s statement in that regard, but no one is above the law — no one, not even the President of the United States. We have impeached him. We will defeat him. And it will be up to law enforcement as to what comes next.

All right, speaking of what comes next and higher power, you’ve said you pray for the president all the time. Can you tell us what you say when you pray for him? What is that prayer?

I pray that God will open his heart to be receptive to the goodness of the American people. The American people are so wonderful, so optimistic, so good, and I wish that he would respond to that by meeting their needs. It’s a funny thing that so many people of faith support him only for one reason, I think, because they want to make sure a woman does not have the right to choose, and I say that as a devout, practicing Catholic. So sad when he would destroy the Gospel of Matthew — “when I was hungry, You fed me, when I was homeless, You sheltered me, when I was naked, You clothed me, when I was in prison, You visited me” — doesn’t subscribe to any of that. So anyway, getting back to the prayers, I pray for the safety of him and his family. I pray for that God will open his heart to the goodness of the American people.

I say to my pastor, you know what? I keep praying. I keep praying. It does seem to be working. He said, well, maybe you’re not praying hard enough. So I keep praying harder and longer.

And I was raised in a political family, raised not to pray for the outcome of an election. But I do pray that God’s will will be done for the children.

And that’s “Sway.” Thanks for listening. I’m going to take another minute because on a personal note, I’m getting married soon. For a gay person like myself, that wouldn’t have been possible without justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In fact, it would have been inconceivable. And that’s why it went down to the courthouse this weekend with my daughter. Clara is only a year old, so she loved the singing. But she won’t remember the scene of flowers strewn and candles lit on the steps of the Supreme Court. But her life, too, has already been forever shaped by this tiny but towering justice. Without Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I wouldn’t have equality as a parent, and I wouldn’t have equality as a woman either. For that and so much more, I am forever grateful to the notorious RBG.

“Sway” is a production of New York Times Opinion. It’s produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong, and Vishakha Darbha; edited by Adam Teicholz and Paula Szuchman; with music and sound design by Isaac Jones. Special thanks to my Mahima Chablani, Michelle Cottle, Rubina Fillion, Liriel Higa, Kathleen O’Brien, Nora Keller, Laura Kim, Brian Zittel, and Kathy Tu. If you’re hearing this online and want to become a regular listener, which you should, download a podcast app. Search for “Sway,” and hit subscribe. You’ll hear new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

I’m Kara Swisher, and this is one hell of a year. But welcome to “Sway” anyway, my new podcast about power. Here’s a convenient one-page set-up guide, which I hope I never have to read again. Many years ago, I was one of the first reporters on the internet beat, and I watched as a bunch of nerds and misfits accumulated wealth and power the private sector hadn’t seen since the robber barons of the 19th century. Except, those robber barons were much better dressed. They’re not bad guys, and they are almost all guys. And I know them well.

But their products can be bad for the world, as it’s turned out. And until recently, the other institutions of power in this country didn’t seem remotely interested in holding any of them accountable. That started to change, and I like to think I played some small role in it. But there’s a whole world of people out there whose power goes uninterrogated. That’s my goal — not to interrogate with, like, klieg lights, although I do have a set, of course, but interrogate, like really, deeply examine. It’s a twitchy Twitter world. It’s noisy. It’s awful. And yes, I’m guilty of it, too. But “Sway” is going to take its time. [MUSIC CHANGE]

President Trump and his fellow Republican leaders say that they want to move forward with filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.

By the time you hear this, the machinery of influence in the nation’s capital will have begun to whir and clank. The fight to fill the empty seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is on.

But here’s the thing. In a world where a majority of the court looks for any excuse to strike down progressive legislation, a Democrat-controlled Congress will have to get more and more creative. And the person at the head of a body that writes the laws may be about to become even more powerful. That person is Nancy Pelosi. [MUSIC CHANGE]

— the first one from California, the first Italian American, she took over the House just in time to prove herself one of the most sophisticated political operators in the history of Congress. While a lot of people take credit, she was critical in getting Obamacare through, holding together from nervous party by knocking heads, keeping receipts, and making promises. And now, 20 million more Americans have health care for an extra $1 trillion a year out of Americans’ pockets.

The motion to concur in the Senate amendment is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

That’s power. But the quiet deal-making that constitutes her power is under threat and is being tested now as severely as ever as she leads the Democrats’ efforts to get through another massive coronavirus stimulus bill and risks walking away with nothing at all. [MUSIC ENDS] Speaker Pelosi, thanks for speaking to me. It’s been a tumultuous weekend in Washington. Let’s start with the news about our RBG. How are you doing?

I don’t think any of us are doing very well, personally. This was a petite woman who was a giant and powerhouse when it came to brilliant, strategic thinking, legal knowledge. She did more for equality for women than anyone you could name. RBG just was synonymous with every good thing that comes our way as women. It’s hard for me to talk about her because I personally loved her so much. And you know, she’s 87 years old. She had these diagnoses. It shouldn’t have been a surprise but nonetheless, heartbreaking.

It’s hard to think about the personal relationships that people have in Washington. How did you encounter her?

Well, I told her daughter yesterday, her daughter Jane, I said, you know, one of the best compliments I ever received was one time — this is probably more than 10 years ago — she pulled me aside at an occasion and she said, because you are my friend, because we are good friends, I want to tell you something that will be in the news but I want you to know personally before it happened. And that is that I have been diagnosed with cancer. And of course, I reacted emotionally to that. And she said, but I want you to know that I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be OK. How she knew that, just because she’s so courageous. I’m going to be OK. But I remember that evening because of where she began it — because we are friends, I want you to know this. And then she got diagnosed again, again, and now this last time. But the strength, the courage, the determination that she had in everything that she did, including fighting her fight. But what I do know is that she would want us to be as concerned about the 200,000 people who have died from the coronavirus and the impact on their families.

But life has to go on, and politics definitely marches on, whether you like it or not. And you have to keep moving forward with your political goals, right?

Well, I don’t think that it was appropriate that within hours of the news of her passing came forth that the leader in the Senate made his announcement. I think we do want people to rest in peace. We do want to extend condolences and sympathy to their families. We do want to absorb the shock it is to all of us. And for that statement to just trigger so much reaction I thought was completely cruel and inappropriate.

OK, but Trump has a list of front-runners to replace Justice Ginsburg and said that he will announce his nomination this week. Ultimately, the decision rests in the Senate, not the House. But is there anything you can do to influence what happens next?

Well, I have arrows in my quiver, in the House quiver, and one of my arrows is not to say what the arrows are.

But I will say this — vote, vote, vote, vote. It’s so important. The prospect of people voting, I think, will be a message to the Republicans about how receptive they are to moving so quickly on this. The other part of it is that people should know that the Congress — House, Senate, and White House being Democratic — we can overturn some of the damage done by the injustices that would spring from this court. Let me give you an example. When the Lilly Ledbetter’s case was being debated in the —

This was about women’s pay. And the injustice of it all to women, it’s shocking. Nonetheless, the court ruled against women in the workplace. Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent. The dissent became the Lilly Ledbetter law that was passed by House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama as the very first bill he signed about improving the opportunities for women in the workplace. Her dissent became the law.

Well, one of Justice Ginsburg’s famous quotes is that dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way. The greatest dissents do become court opinions. And gradually, over time, their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenters hope, that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow. Speaker Pelosi, do you think you can create legislation that’s creative enough to, quote, “speak to a future age,” particularly in light of the headwinds from an uncooperative judiciary?

Well, we certainly will never give up the fight for making health care affordable and accessible in a quality way to the American people. We would hope that we could have a fair shot in the court on this. The president doesn’t want a fair shot on this, and so that’s why he’s in a hurry to make an appointment. And that’s why the election is important, to send a message to these senators who were up this time. We’re here. We know what’s happening. And again, some people who are not particularly Democratic or Republican but do care about a preexisting condition, millions more of them now because of the coronavirus.

All right, let me give you one of your arrows in your quiver. If the court overturns Roe but you have Biden and a Democratic Senate, what will you do specifically to help protect abortion rights in red states, and can you do anything if the GOP keeps the Senate?

Well, that would be much harder. That’s why we want people to vote now. Let me just say this. They’ve had the House and Senate and Republican president for a while. They’ve, by and large, been fakers on Roe v. Wade when they could have done it. They didn’t. They just like to use it. But now, I think with the, shall we say— I don’t what the word is to use about this president, but the lack of balance that is there, you never know what he may try to do. But this is vital. And if the court cares anything about precedent, they will not overturn Roe v. Wade.

All right, but specifically, what can you do? Are there things you can pass to protect these? Because there will be abortions in certain states if it’s overturned, and there won’t be in others. And of course, abortion rights have been made smaller all over the country and restricted. What specifically do you have in mind to protect those rights?

Right now, what we’re fighting is some decisions in the court, which may not overturn Roe v. Wade but will enable states to effectively deprive a woman of that right.

Well, that is, or they could overturn the whole law, which would, I think, caused such an outcry for them that they might even find that, as we say, too hot to handle. But again, the fight that we have is still the fight that’s going on in the states, and that’s a fight that we make in the courts. Now, we can see what our options are, depending on how the election goes, as to how we can protect a woman’s right to choose. But I do think that this is a big issue in our country. Now I’m an Italian-American Catholic family. My family I came from doesn’t share my position on this issue, but I, as a mother of five children in six years almost to the day, I’m just overjoyed that my husband and I are but don’t think that we should be making that decision for anybody else.

So this is a show about power. What do you think was the power of RBG?

It’s so sad. I mean, her power, of course, was her brilliance. As people said, even before she was on the court, she had already put forth a lifetime of achievement, even at a young age, because of her brilliance. She respected and listened to other people and then made her case in a very, very strong way. And that’s important. You can have the brilliance. You can have the strategic thinking. You have to command the respect, but she could write it, too.

OK, but you have pressing goals to move forward. And I do want to talk about the stimulus bill — or the lack of one, actually. You’ve said you’re not budging on this relief bill, which is at an impasse between the Democrats and Republicans. Can you give me an update of how to look at it? Because a lot of people accuse both the Democrats and the GOP of squandering this summer, even as people across the country have become more desperate. And in the words of Martin Luther King, which I know you know this quote, “there is a fierce urgency of now.”

There is a fierce urgency of now, and we have, I think, a moral decision to make. This is a massive problem and challenge that we face in our country, and the Republicans have put forth an emaciated, as Chuck Schumer calls it, an emaciated bill. And I’m so proud that every Senate Democrat voted against it.

And when people call it a skinny deal, I said, there’s no such thing as a skinny deal. A skinny deal is a Republican bill. And we have a challenge in our country to our economy that begins with the health and well-being of the American people. Unless we crush this virus, we’re just biding time, in terms of how many more families are going to be affected economically, as well as health wise by this. So it isn’t a question of turf or power or anything else. It’s a question of meeting the needs of the American people. And we cannot miss that opportunity by saying, well, let’s just do this little thing so we can cover whatever we’re covering.

All right, so aside from this skinny bill, which you call the emaciated bill, why not take the $1.5 trillion compromise? You have 25 Democrats, 25 Republicans. You were very quick to shoot that down, and this is a group of people who are worried about not just the election, but their constituents.

Well, I have over 230 Democrats in the House. Many of them think very differently from that proposal. So 25 is interesting, but it’s 25. Now, what is important to note is that I have a very dynamic caucus. I have a difference of opinion on almost every subject you can name and great ideas of leadership as to how we should proceed. And that’s exciting. I would not want to be the head of any rubber-stamp caucus or Congress, and that’s not what we are. So we are, by and large, overwhelmingly, the progressives want us to bring up the $3.4 trillion bill back to the floor. Others want us to just do a bill that says, this is what we would do if only they would come along. And then I want to have an agreement, which means you have to compromise. So while the amount of money is one thing, how you spend it is another. And since we passed our bill four months ago, money things have emerged as, once again, as needs, of course, the virus did not dissipate as people had hoped. And it wouldn’t unless they would do testing, tracing, treatment, et cetera that we have in our bill.

No, no, no, we’re $3.4 trillion. We came down $1 trillion to meet them halfway. It does not meet the needs of the American people. It doesn’t do what it needs to do to fight the virus, which is how we’re going to open our economy and how we’re going to open our schools safely for our children. No, it’s not enough.

Neither does a bill that doesn’t exist. You’ve kept the House there to work on this. And before, when you’ve had other issues like this — and of course, it’s not right before an election — a lot of voters and a lot of people are worried about the idea that this is just election posturing from both sides. And you used, interestingly, a Holocaust reference, the Sophie’s choice. It’s from the William Styron book.

That’s a pretty tough thing to use. So you don’t feel that there is compromise here? You’re well known for being able to compromise.

Well, yes, and I’m a legislator. As I say to members, our title is representative. Our responsibility is to represent our districts as legislators, and to legislate is difficult. “To govern is to choose,” said President Kennedy. It’s hard. You have to make choices. But let me just say this, because I used the Sophie’s choice analogy. I said the following: 14 million children in America are food insecure and their families as well. Millions of those families are on the verge of eviction. None of that is covered in what the Republicans have put forth. The virus needs to be crushed. We have $75 billion in our bill with the plan that science, science, science tells us is necessary to do. They had $15. We had $75. They said, we’ll compromise at $16. We’re fooling ourselves. We’re fooling ourselves. So you cannot just say, well, I’ll just cover my you-know-what by going for the path of least resistance for the smallest amount when we have a massive moral challenge in our country.

So putting aside the Republican bill, which didn’t succeed — it didn’t succeed in the Senate either — is not this other build from the problem solvers a framework? Does that become a framework where you can come to —

No, it does not because you have to start at the kitchen table of the American people. And in terms of that you have to start, significantly — look, the Fed, and I’m not complaining about this, the Fed is spending trillions of dollars to bolster the stock market, to keep credit flowing, very important. And that’s good. Why can’t we spend trillions of dollars to bolster the middle class of our country? Is it the price? You think they’re not worth it? Or is it the money, you’d rather spend it someplace else? It’s either the price or the money. But why can we not meet the needs of the American people? They don’t have anything in their bill for that.

So did Trump calling for more money help you? It sort of threw you a bit of a lifeline, and you just talked again with Secretary Mnuchin. What have you talked about with him?

Whatever Trump says it’s not a lifeline because it’s never reliable, so don’t take that to the bank.

But when you talked to Secretary Mnuchin, how do you get to a compromise then? Where is the path?

Well, my conversation with Mnuchin was really about the continuing resolution to keep government open. That was what that conversation was about. I have said from the start, we’re going to keep government open. Now they say they’re going to. We’ll see if they agree. We’ll have a bill on the floor that does just that in a very clean way.

Where do you go? Because whatever the Republicans do, people are also going to blame the Democrats.

But you know what? We have to take responsibility. We’re not worrying about that. What we’re worrying about is the fact that millions of people are hungry, on the verge of eviction, concerned about sending their children to school in an unsafe way, having uncertainty, especially in communities of color, that this virus is spreading in a disproportionate way in their communities. The state and local government has nothing but the disdain of the president who says he’s not going to respect our heroes, our health care workers, our police and fire first responders, our transportation, our sanitation, our food workers, our teachers, our teachers, our teachers. We would not be functioning as a society without our state and local governments, and the president says, we’re not sending any money. It’s blue states. Really?

Where do you press then? When you did the ACA, which I think most people really attribute to your muscling it through, you said, you go through a gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. We’re going to get health reform passed for the American people. Where is your pole vault here? Where is that for you? And aside from the Republicans, how are you going to use your power to make them do something?

Well, I believe in the American people. They understand, people are hurting. We have to meet their needs, not give the president a chance to just say, I’m going to put my name on a check, send it out, and don’t talk to me about food, rent, first responders, health care workers, the virus, or anything else. That’s all he wants is his name on a check that goes out.

State and local government provide everything for us. They’re where our services largely come from. If you want to talk about education, we’re unhappy about the kind of money and how they want to spend it at the federal level, but that’s a small percentage of the money. Over 90% the money comes from state and local government, which is firing teachers as we speak. Over 1 million, maybe 1.5 million for public employees at the state and local level have been fired. It could go up to 5 or 6 million people if we don’t get this bill. Now, those people will lose their jobs. They will then go on unemployment insurance. What’s the good of that? Wouldn’t it be better for them to meet the needs of the people rather than cutting services, raising taxes, firing people, and putting them on unemployment insurance? So we’re looking at it comprehensively. You’re saying, just so they have a check in their pocket, it doesn’t matter if they have food and the rent.

I get that. So what is your pole vault to get there? How are you going to pole vault over this?

We’re just going to keep making our case. And I want to tell you something. You may not know this.

The poll that came out 49% to 30%, the American people support how the congressional Democrats are supporting the coronavirus challenge.

So you’re just going to keep making your — But the actual mechanics, the operation mechanics of making it happen, are you are you optimistic?

We are legislating. And if the president does not want to legislate and just wants to have his name on a check, that ain’t going to happen.

All right, so your relationship with President Trump is an interesting one. You serve as a foil for him in a lot of ways. You’ve never been shy to speak your mind with him, like ripping up his speech at the State of the Union. You’re Speaker of the House though, and you haven’t spoken to him in almost a year. Do you get a sense that you should be speaking to him, given you are the most powerful Democrat at this moment?

That’s how he hears things. And again, I want to have a witness to what I have to say to him.

What’s the use? He’s an unreliable contact. We’ve had occasions, even in the public domain, where you’ve had Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, around a table where he will say, you just bring me a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, and I will sign it. He’ll say that — Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, right there on live TV — and then he doesn’t.

Well, I don’t know who’s in charge there. If he says one thing and does another, who changes his mind? I don’t know.

One of your ways is sort of to treat him like a baby in some ways, like a moron, I mean, the way you talk to him.

I mean, when I was in the Oval Office and he started to be condescending about whether I could speak for my House Democrats, I spoke out. But I didn’t plan to do that. As I say, I really wasn’t going to speak with the press there because any time you’re speaking in front of the press with the president there, you’re either contradicting him or correcting him because he usually doesn’t know what he’s talking about, A. B, then when I walked out, people said, oh, how did you know to wear that coat? I said, well, I didn’t know to wear that coat. It was clean. Maybe that’s how I knew to wear it. The tearing up of the speech, I was about halfway through the speech when I decided to do that.

Who is your audience? Is it him? Are you trying to get under his skin? What’s the goal?

No, he’s not. The audience was my own integrity. This speech was a pack of lies, a pack of lies. So I thought, well, I’ll tear that page. I was thinking, oh, I got to tear that page up. It’s a lie. That page and that page — and then finally, it was like the whole speech was a pack of lies. And he dishonored the chamber of the House of Representatives by being so political. We don’t do that.

All right, but let me just say, you’re not Nancy the suburban housewife just sitting there tearing up papers. You’re Nancy, the Speaker of House.

That’s right, Speaker of the House, co-equal branch of government, article one, the first branch of government tearing up the speech.

So you felt this was — even though in these moments, it’s quite dramatic, whether it’s the sunglasses, whether it’s the tearing up of the speech, whether it’s the tiny clapping. [LAUGHS] Well, the tiny clapping, I don’t know what else —

I like the best when I’m pointing to him. With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin. And he put out the picture.

That’s your favorite, OK. But at the same time, some people think that you don’t go far enough, that you’re too operational. I’ve had several different people I talk to saying the impeachment wasn’t far enough.

I understand that. But do you think taking baby steps has been helpful with this president?

And by the way, I have two things to say about your question. One is that I have great reliance on my committees and how they develop what they think is the best way for us to proceed. It’s not me telling other people. We build consensus. That’s why we have unity in our caucus.

In spite of all of our differences, and they are vast, we build consensus. And that was the consensus, and that’s how we went forward. As far as my own behavior, apart from the committees and this or that, what I have — says she immodestly — is authenticity. And that’s I do what I believe, and that’s what it is. I don’t do it all the time. There are many other things I believe about him that should be said. But again, I have to go out there with my best shot.

All right, but should you hit even harder? Because treating him like a toddler works only so far unless it’s the demon seed, and then the toddler has complete control, destroying things. The same thing, like, why not impeach Bill Barr? Is there a stronger way to deal with these people? You have other tools, and you are a Nancy Pelosi.

Bill Barr is a complete henchman. He’s a disgrace to the office he holds. He shouldn’t even be a lawyer. He should be disbarred. We’ve held him in contempt of Congress. But he is an employee, and the villain here is Donald Trump. And that is what we have to do is to make sure that he is not reelected.

All right. When you talk about this idea of him being an employee or a henchman, which is your word, you still have power to do something about it, to hit harder.

He’s a waste of time. I think he’s a waste of time. Right now, we have the election. The fact is, he’s not worth it because we have a pandemic. And it’s hard enough to convince this administration that they should stop the pandemic but at least testing, tracing, treatment, face masks, isolation, sanitation, than to waste our time on Barr. That’s what I think.

All right, so let’s focus on Trump then. So he’s a waste of time, so Trump is not. So one person wrote yesterday, on Twitter of all things, “the instinct to compromise looks like capitulation. And what was interesting is many years ago, Rahm Emanuel said about you, a lot of Democrats are uncomfortable with the use of power. Nancy Pelosi is not.” What can you do to rein in the power of the president? It seems like this is persistent. It’s relentless. It doesn’t stop. You’re fixing something over here then something happens over here. It’s everywhere. So how do you rein in the power of the president? If you want to not look at his henchmen, if you want to not look at his employees, how do you do that?

Well, we’re going to have to win the United States Senate because of what we have in the Congress of the United States are just a herd of enablers of the president. But that’s who they are. People have to understand. They say to me, oh, I bet those members of Congress are so embarrassed by him. No, he’s their guy. He’s their guy. Name any subject — name a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ rights, climate issues, immigration, gun safety, fairness in our economy. He’s their champion. They think just like him. They are the current version of congressional Republicans. I tell people in the Republican Party, take back your party. This isn’t who you are. You’ve been hijacked. You’ve been hijacked, and now it’s turning into a cult of personality for Donald Trump. So in order to do many things you suggest, you have to have a Democratic Senate, which is what we’re working on as well.

But then we have to win the White House. But let me just say that even with a Democrat in the White House, even if it’s a Democrat, we do think there have to be guardrails more pronounced. Our founders had them in the Constitution. They never thought somebody would come in, act the way Trump has, kick over the guardrails. So we have to make sure —

Because norms and laws only work when enforced. And you often call him lawless, the word you use. And it reminds me a little bit of being a Sheriff in a Western town. You’re from the West. And the villain comes in and breaks the saloon and makes a mess of everything and continues to do it. Where is the law then? I know it sounds like a crazy question because you’re one of the most powerful forces in this country and in the world. Have people underestimated your power and the power of Congress and you particularly? And how has that affected your ability to do your jobs and to get things done?

Well, I am very powerful. The power of the Speaker is awesome, says she. [LAUGHS] I don’t mean I am, but the power of the Speaker is awesome. And we are able to bring legislation to the floor. We’re able also to stop certain initiatives of the other side, should they have the White House or the other body. But this is really what is important about this election. Arnold Toynbee talked about it in his histories of civilizations and the rest. You start a new society, you’ll have two governing models. One of them is there, the flowering elites, to enable the people to reach their fulfillment, their flowering, and there they use their power for that purpose. Or you have the exploiting elites, and they are there for power and money. And when you have them both in the same society, economy, you have a schism of the soul of the country, and that’s what we have now because they had no interest in anything but the special dark interest in whose pocket they are, whether it’s fossil fuel or gun industry, corporate America, you name it.

And we are on the other hand saying, this has to bubble up, and people have to have their — and not only is it right for the people, it is what is important for the economy to prosper because consumer confidence is what makes an economy really thrive.

All right, but I’m going to press you one more time. What is your power to do this? I get the election, but you can get up more. You can speak out more. You can do more impeachments, things like that. Do you have enough power?

Well, we can impeach him every day of the week for anything he does. In fact, for —

— 200,000 people dying. Well, because look, the American people want to know what we’re doing that affects them directly.

They want good-paying jobs. And in our campaign, in the last election, when we won, we had a very simple formula — for the people, we will lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We would increase paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green way, and we would have cleaner government by reducing the role the big, dark money in politics. It was a winning message for us, and it continues to be our message. Now, in the off-year elections, we’re the center stage. We’re the center stage. Now we are the lounge act, and the presidential is the center stage. And so we look forward to supporting those values in the candidacy of Joe Biden. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Apologies for doing this, but I want to remind you a prediction you made about the presidential election when I interviewed you back in 2016. Sorry to do this to you, but please, play the clip. [LAUGHING]

Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States. Take it to the bank. I guarantee it.

Oh, Nancy, the bank, I took it to the bank. What happened? I mean, what went wrong from your perspective?

Yeah, I know. I was very wrong. Well, I mean, he’s so disgusting personally, and it was just really hard to see how the American people would vote for somebody who said what he said about women, said what he said about some of the leaders in our in our country and the rest, my misjudgment about what the public was willing to fall for. However, that cannot happen. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That’s where we are.

I think he will win, but we’re going to make sure that he wins. Let me just say it this way, and this is what I should’ve said to you before. But I really did honestly believe and I take full responsibility for the comment that I made to you then. If the election were held today, we would win it all. We would not only hold the House, but increase our numbers. We would win the Senate, governorships, state, local government, all that, and we would win the electoral college. The election is not today. So we have to put one good day in front of another — no underutilized resources, no wasted time, and no regrets the day after the election. We laugh at my stupidity in thinking that this man could not be elected because he said terrible things. Well, I guess that’s OK with some people.

But the fact is, we have to have much more clarity about what we are doing for those kitchen-table issues — job security, pension security, health care, health care, health care.

All right, let me paint you a different future. Trump wins. What is your legislative priority in that scenario? What do you do then? What do you change?

Quite frankly, it would be almost impossible to entertain the thought of Trump in a second term.

Our country is a great country, and we could withstand one term. A second term, in terms of what it means to the courts and what it means to all of our values in the country, what it means to our constitution, what it means to our land, from sea to shining sea, this beautiful land, he disrespects the Constitution. He degrades the environment and land every day, or, say, two, three times a week, and he dishonors our values as a country. So we just have to make sure that he does not win.

All right, but look, that’s just a Tuesday, Madame Speaker, OK? What are you going to do if that is the case? What is your strategy? Election day, November 4, he is still the president. What is your strategy? Do you just not have one? You have to be thinking —

No, when he won before, right away, we thought, well, he talked about infrastructure in the campaign. He talked about it all the time. And so every conversation I had with him for a long time always came back to infrastructure. So we thought he really did want to build the infrastructure of America, until it was time to pay for it when he stomped out the door when it came time to pay for it. Then we realized he wasn’t serious about it. Also, he said during the campaign that when it came to prescription drugs, he was going to negotiate like crazy to get cost down. Well, like crazy meant not at all. But we still thought infrastructure, prescription drugs, health care — we can work together from what he said in the campaign and then that evaporated.

But in the next term, whoever the president is — let’s frame it that way — infrastructure will be a very important. It’s a job creator. To do it in a green way is very important, and it’s about everything. You could go into an infrastructure bill.

Sure. Building sustainability into whatever infrastructure bill you come up with is going to be crucial. But do the fires surrounding your district add an even greater urgency to your initiatives on the climate change?

No, it’s always been my primary issue. When I was Speaker the first time, my flagship issue was the climate issue. And we passed a big bill with George Bush. In the next term with President Obama, the second piece of is energy. You can’t do climate without energy. But the climate bill we passed in the House couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate. But as soon as we had the Speakership again, put it into a select committee again, has made recommendations that are so transformative and so into the future, and we already have passed in the House some of that legislation for infrastructure. Now, on that score, the problem we’ve had with Republicans in Congress even before Trump is they’ve been in denial about climate or in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry or some combination thereof. So even before he got there, we could never have the legislation we wanted even in the majority, even with a Democratic president that would address the climate issue. We will after this election. But it is very urgent. We don’t have that much time.

All right, so say you get what you want — you get the Senate and you get —

I was at a DNC meeting that you invited me to. I was there with my son, and he remarked that it’s like a family reunion where no one likes each other but you’re the glue holding them together, kind of like a mom. [LAUGHING] Now, I assume you sort of see yourself that way.

But one of the things that had happened, which has been pushed aside because of Trump — you’re all united against President Trump — how are the relationships among the various factions that you have to preside over?

You have the centrist members. You have your progressive members. It’s sort of writ large what’s going to happen to the entire Democratic party if they win.

No, I’ve, been in the Democratic party for decades, and I used to be chair of the California Democratic party. And if you want to see diversity from right to left, you would see it there. So we’ve always been proud of our diversity in every way — ethnically, gender, gender ID, generational, all the rest, including philosophically. There is a range of thinking in the Democratic party. But make no mistake — as I say, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power. And our power is about protecting America’s working families from right to left, from right to left. And so to have a debate within the party on issues or personalities and rest is perfectly appropriate. That’s who we are. We are not the rubber stamp that the Republican Party is, nor would we ever want to be. But we do know that we’re here for America’s working families. There is absolutely no disagreement or nuance about that.

Do you have a strategy to keep that group together if you prevail? Are you worried about sort of a civil war within your group?

No, not at all. You understand, we passed bills like the Affordable Care Act and other things, impeach the president and the rest because we build consensus. This is not something from on high. This is what we’re going to do. We build consensus for the boldest, most progressive position to go forward, understanding how, for example, a message that will work in my district in California does not necessarily work in a electoral college state.

Well, let’s take Michigan because we’ll win Illinois. Let’s take Michigan. What works in Michigan will work in California. We’re talking about working families. What works in San Francisco, pushing it further, may not work in Michigan. So what we have to do is win. So in any case, when we’re having some of our intramurals, it’s about winning the electoral college. It’s about winning the United States Senate.

And that is the decision that I have to make. As far as some of the differences we have within our party, there ain’t nothing anybody can come up with that I don’t have a sign in my basement about, way to the left.

You promised you’d limit yourself to two more terms. Do you want to remain Speaker for longer than you had promised?

No. Well, I’m not making any comments now. I’m on a mission. I’m not on a timetable. But at the time, I only thought I’d be staying one more term. But of course, I wasn’t planning on Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. Who could have ever thought such a horrible thing could happen to our country, but it did.

All right, so you’re going to have QAnon members in the Congress. How are you going to deal with that?

Well, I think the Republican Party is going to have to deal with that within its ranks.

You know, well, there’ll be a vote. The House of Representatives retains the right to seat members of Congress. The members of their districts, the people, choose who they want to represent them, how the election comes out —

There we are. Sorry, I’m going to rush this. I know you have a rush. Sorry.

OK, all right, I’m going to do it so fast. All right, very quickly, so with QAnon, will you seat them if they start to spew? You dealt with Steven King before.

But actually, QAnon is an issue for the Republicans in the Congress of the United States. We have an election to get through yet with very high stakes for our democracy. And the Republicans make a big deal of talking about law and order, and I will be interested to see how they deal with law and order when it comes to QAnon.

But we’re concerned more, frankly, about the president trying to declare victory or to usurp the votes of the electoral college and the rest. So that’s what our priority is.

All right, Facebook, QAnon has been very active on Facebook, and it’s been a facilitator of its platform. How much do you hold Facebook accountable for this? You’ve had your wrangling with them.

I hold them very accountable. I hold them very accountable. QAnon has used the “save the children” as a hashtag while they spew forth their poison and attract millions of people because “save the children,” that sounds attractive, doesn’t it? And what you’ve just described is violence, and I don’t see the Republicans speaking out against that, whereas Joe Biden has said we are for peaceful demonstrations. That’s part of our democracy. That does not include rioting, starting fires, or looting.

In terms of Facebook, Facebook has been totally disreputable in so much of this. In 2016, when the Russians interfered in our election and rubles were coming in and they had to know that these were not on the level of American sites, they said, well, we never thought to look at that. So they played that role in that election. I don’t know how the Facebook board of directors or their top employees can look themselves in the mirror. They have clearly chosen. Their business plan is to make money off of poison, and that’s the path they have chosen to go.

Well, we are looking at the 230, our committees of jurisdiction. Again, you have to handle it with care so that we’re not hurting smaller platforms or freedom of speech. On the other hand, we’re not enabling a Facebook to just get rich at the expense of our democracy.

OK. If President Trump loses, Biden has said that he wouldn’t stand the way of prosecution of Trump. Do you think he should be prosecuted, or do you allow law enforcement to weigh in on that decision?

Well, one of the bills that we are putting forth as we go forward — and you said, following up on some of what went before — is that the statute of limitation should not include while the president is in office. So that would be time for law enforcement to exercise. I, frankly, had not heard Biden’s statement in that regard, but no one is above the law — no one, not even the President of the United States. We have impeached him. We will defeat him. And it will be up to law enforcement as to what comes next.

All right, speaking of what comes next and higher power, you’ve said you pray for the president all the time. Can you tell us what you say when you pray for him? What is that prayer?

I pray that God will open his heart to be receptive to the goodness of the American people. The American people are so wonderful, so optimistic, so good, and I wish that he would respond to that by meeting their needs. It’s a funny thing that so many people of faith support him only for one reason, I think, because they want to make sure a woman does not have the right to choose, and I say that as a devout, practicing Catholic. So sad when he would destroy the Gospel of Matthew — “when I was hungry, You fed me, when I was homeless, You sheltered me, when I was naked, You clothed me, when I was in prison, You visited me” — doesn’t subscribe to any of that. So anyway, getting back to the prayers, I pray for the safety of him and his family. I pray for that God will open his heart to the goodness of the American people.

I say to my pastor, you know what? I keep praying. I keep praying. It does seem to be working. He said, well, maybe you’re not praying hard enough. So I keep praying harder and longer.

And I was raised in a political family, raised not to pray for the outcome of an election. But I do pray that God’s will will be done for the children.

And that’s “Sway.” Thanks for listening. I’m going to take another minute because on a personal note, I’m getting married soon. For a gay person like myself, that wouldn’t have been possible without justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In fact, it would have been inconceivable. And that’s why it went down to the courthouse this weekend with my daughter. Clara is only a year old, so she loved the singing. But she won’t remember the scene of flowers strewn and candles lit on the steps of the Supreme Court. But her life, too, has already been forever shaped by this tiny but towering justice. Without Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I wouldn’t have equality as a parent, and I wouldn’t have equality as a woman either. For that and so much more, I am forever grateful to the notorious RBG.

“Sway” is a production of New York Times Opinion. It’s produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong, and Vishakha Darbha; edited by Adam Teicholz and Paula Szuchman; with music and sound design by Isaac Jones. Special thanks to my Mahima Chablani, Michelle Cottle, Rubina Fillion, Liriel Higa, Kathleen O’Brien, Nora Keller, Laura Kim, Brian Zittel, and Kathy Tu. If you’re hearing this online and want to become a regular listener, which you should, download a podcast app. Search for “Sway,” and hit subscribe. You’ll hear new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

In the inaugural episode of Kara Swisher’s new podcast, “Sway,” she interviews House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When it comes to presidential succession, Ms. Pelosi is second in line. And when it comes to taking on President Trump, she’s usually first.

“The power of the speaker is awesome,” says Ms. Pelosi. But how is she actually using that power? Why not accept a compromise (to the tune of $1.5 trillion) that may help quell a national crisis? What progress is possible when the speaker hasn’t spoken directly to the president in months? And with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaving a looming conservative court, can Ms. Pelosi maximize the power of a Democratic-controlled House?

About “Sway”Times Opinion is teaming up with Kara Swisher on a new podcast about power and influence. She’s taking on C.E.O.s, senators, actors and activists — plus upstarts and gatekeepers you might not yet know but need to hear from. How did these people get power? How do they actually use it? And how does their power shape your life?Every Monday and Thursday, from New York Times Opinion.Listen to the trailer.

Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) has been a contributing Opinion writer for The Times since 2018. She is an executive producer of the Code Conference and editor at large at New York Media. She was a co-founder of Recode and the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Vishakha Darbha; edited by Adam Teicholz and Paula Szuchman; with music and sound-design by Isaac Jones. Special thanks to Mahima Chablani, Michelle Cottle, Rubina Fillion, Liriel Higa, Nora Keller, Laura Kim, Kathleen O’Brien, Brian Zittel and Kathy Tu.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/21/opinion/sway-kara-swisher-nancy-pelosi.html

News – Opinion | Nancy Pelosi: ‘If The Election Were Held Today, We Would Win It All’