June 21, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with press about the President’s decision to approve and then cancel a military strike on Iran. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Q: Madam Speaker –
Speaker Pelosi. Hello, hello.
Q: Do you believe your message in the Situation Room yesterday about de-escalation may have played a role in the President’s decision-making to pull back last night?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I think the message was bipartisan, in terms of de-escalating, based on a couple of things. First of all, we have no illusions about Iran. It’s a very dangerous country and there are divisions within the country about hardliners versus others.
There was bipartisan consensus that we didn’t want to do anything that would strengthen the hand of hardliners in Iran because that just makes matters worse – consensus that we should be working with our allies, in whatever we do, in calibrating a response that is as serious and strategic as the challenge we face. And, bipartisanship as to what are our objectives in the region. We have to protect American interests, but how do we define what they are?
And, so, we left with the impression that the President was going to consider some options. I did not receive any heads-up that there was a strike that was in the works. Maybe the other leaders did, on the Republican side, but I did not receive any of that. And, that would be a departure – the President has informed us, for example, in Syria before we went in.
Q: Have you spoken to the President today at all?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I haven’t spoken with the President today.
Q: Are you pleased at his decision not to strike?
Speaker Pelosi. Absolutely, I am. I think – I don’t know how imminent the strike was, you hear different things. But, a strike of that amount of collateral damage would be very provocative and I’m glad the President did not take that.
We think there are many options that are not what they call kinetic – that is to say, a strike on the country – that might be more useful. But, those are options the President is considering.
But, let me be very clear: the Democrats in the meeting, House and Senate Democrats, were very clear that Congress must act – that they must have the authority of Congress, before we initiate military hostilities into Iran.
Q: The President seemed to suggest that he found out about the apparent, like, death toll, if they had gone through with the strike, just moments before they would have conducted the strike. Isn’t that something you think they should have known about beforehand?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, you know, I don’t know the timing of when the President learned of the consequences. I don’t even know how off-the-ground these plans were. That’s something you’d have to ask the White House, but I imagine – it would make sense, if you are considering options, that you know what the consequences are before you make a decision to go forward.
Q: Since you were not notified, will you be telling the White House that you would like to be notified in the future?
Speaker Pelosi. I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying.
Q: Since you weren’t notified beforehand, will you be letting the White House know that you would like to be notified in the future?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it’s – again, what are our objectives? What are our interests and how do we define them? Not as broadly as I’ve heard some define them in terms of other countries.
What are our interests? How do we define our interests? How do we engage our allies and how do we take actions which do not do inflame the situation.
De-escalate, de-escalate, de-escalate. Take a deep breath, and de-escalate.
Q: Is it harder for the President to initiate airstrikes, if it is determined that it is the right course, now that he has pulled back – to try this again?
Speaker Pelosi. You’re talking about a double hypothetical, Chad, I’m not going to answer that.