June 20, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to press following a White House briefing on Iran with House and Senate leaders on the targeting of an unmanned U.S. drone by Iran. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Q: Did you get sufficient information at the briefing?
Speaker Pelosi. Sufficient for what?
Sufficient for what?
Q: Well, what you need to know?
Speaker Pelosi. We just had a very intense briefing for our Caucus so that Members had current knowledge on the situation that we are in.
As you know, there was an Iranian attack on an American asset – that is in doubt as to who motivated it, in terms of whether it was officially sanctioned or was it a rogue attack. Whatever it is, it was Iranian.
How we go forward from here has to be strategic and smart and in close alliance with our allies. We have a common interest in the region. We know that the high-tension wires are up there, and we must do everything we can not to escalate the situation, but also to make sure that our personnel in the region are safe.
Q: And you are pushing for, if they were to launch a military action an AUMF that would be –
Speaker Pelosi. I think that one thing that I can say, and I am just talking generally, but in terms of what I can say about the meeting – because it was a classified meeting in terms of what we were told. But, on every occasion that we are engaged with the Administration in terms of our national security, we make it very clear that in order to get engaged in any military activities we must have a new Authorization of Use of Military Force, AUMF.
That is clear in our Caucus – I think even among some Republicans, but I certainly do not speak for them. But, also, with our Democratic colleagues in the United States Senate.
Q: Madam Speaker, are you personally convinced, based on the intelligence you’ve seen, that this was an Iranian attack on an American asset, operating legally in international airspace?
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Q: Have you received any sort of response for your request for a second all-Member briefing?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, they have said that they will do that, but the briefing we had this morning, for the time that I was there, they had increased the number of people who were in the meeting to be briefed and, therefore, they had decreased the level of information that they gave us.
At one point, they then cleared the room, but by then I had – we had our gun safety event, that I had to be at. So, I don’t know what they gave after I left, but it was well into the briefing.
So, what will they give to a broader group, I don’t know how much more than is in the public domain. But, nonetheless, we want to be current and we want the confirmation of it – and, that is, that our Members of Congress who have to make decisions are fully briefed on what the prospects are and what the possibilities are and what the choices are.
Q: Does the Administration agree that the AUMF does not provide legal rationale for an attack on Iran?
Speaker Pelosi. No, they didn’t say anything. They didn’t say yes. They didn’t say no. We just made our statements.
Q: Madam Speaker, you’re talking about de-escalation. Are you advocating a particular action or –
Speaker Pelosi. No. I don’t know what array of options that the Department of Defense has given to the President. He knows, but he did not share that with us.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, Senator McConnell said though the Administration reaction would be measured. Is that your –
Speaker Pelosi. I hope that’s right, I hope that’s right!
Look, three things to remember: we must – this is a dangerous situation. We’re dealing with a country that is a bad actor in the region. We have no illusions about Iran in terms of their ballistic missile transfers, about who they support in the region and the rest. So, we have an untrustworthy adversary, A. The high-tension wires are up in the region for a lot of different reasons, some bilateral in the region, some multilateral in the region, some religious – whatever it is the high-tension wires are up. Third, we must act in a way that does de-escalate and does not escalate the tensions and the situation there.
Again, I come back to where I began, we must be fully engaged with our allies as we go forward.
I’m hopeful that you’re right about what Senator McConnell said about the President’s response might be but I have no idea. They may have had their own conversations, that would measured by what measure. We’ll see.
Q: Are you confident the White House will consult before taking any action in Iran?
Speaker Pelosi. I cannot really predict what actions the White House will take. They did consult with us today.
We had the opportunity to share our thoughts with the Administration. The President said we’ll have more meetings like this. I don’t know what the sequence of that would be.