Washington, D.C. - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was more surprised than anyone that the president she quoted more than anyone else on the campaign trail last year was Ronald Reagan. In his final speech, the 40th president spoke about how immigrants represent American values, she reminded the audience at a Washington Post Live event on Wednesday.
He talked about the Statue of Liberty being "a beacon of hope," Pelosi said of Reagan. He welcomed the "youth and vitality" of new immigrants. In fact, she added, all presidents since Reagan, be it Democrat or Republican, have welcomed immigrants.
"Now we have an aberration," she regretted.
Moderator Robert Costa asked her guest if a border wall would be part of the Democrats' infrastructure negotiations with the president, to which Pelosi quickly replied, "no."
But that doesn't mean they can't find any common ground. Trump, she said, has mentioned how much he wants to get infrastructure done in at least "80 percent" of the conversations they've had.
"I have to believe he wants to do this," she said. "We have to give him every chance to do so."
In those recent meetings, Pelosi said she and the president seemed to agree on the need to improve mass transit and expand broadband, but they left off on how they're going to pay for it.
Pelosi also addressed the recent hearings with Attorney General William Barr, one of which he attended and the other that proceeded without him. Barr said he refused to show because chairman Jerry Nadler insisted on having staffers ask questions, but Pelosi maintained that the AG felt "safer" in the hands of the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee. He should be held in contempt for not only lying to Congress, but for withholding the unredacted Robert Mueller report, she said. Coupled with her critique of the AG was her frustration that President Trump has made us forget the "decency" of the Oval Office. Pelosi is against impeachment proceedings, but noted that he is making himself "self-impeachable."
At one point she even quipped that several members of the administration may actually belong behind bars.
While she outrightly condemned the president, she subtly rebuked one of her fellow Democrats when the topic switched to Israel. The establishment of Israel, Pelosi said, was one of the greatest accomplishments in the 20th century and the nation is "our most serious friend" in the Middle East. As such, "some have said things that are not representative of our consensus and we have pointed that out."
Only subtly, though. Even the anti-hate resolution the Democrats were going to pass in response to Omar's anti-Israel musings was watered down in the end.
Throughout the hourlong discussion, the speaker kept emphasizing how "prayerful" we should all be in these uncertain times - including her.
"I pray for the president," she said. "I pray for him mightily."