Pelosi spars with CNN’s Blitzer over COVID-19 aid: ‘You really don’t know what you’re talking about’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday defended holding out for a more expansive COVID-19 economic relief package than the current proposal offered by the Trump administration in an unusually contentious interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, telling the news anchor that “you really don’t know what you’re talking about” and calling him an “apologist” for Republicans.

Pelosi and the Trump administration have been trying to negotiate a pandemic relief package for months to no avail, with Democrats currently pushing for a price tag of $2.2 trillion — down from their initial proposal of $3.4 trillion this spring — and the Trump administration most recently offering a $1.8 trillion proposal.

Blitzer asked Pelosi to respond to a tweet from progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) earlier this week urging Democrats to consider the White House’s latest offer and “make a deal & put the ball in [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell’s [R-Ky.] court” because “people in need can’t wait until February.”

“What I say to you is, I don’t know why you’re always an apologist and many of your colleagues are apologists for the Republican position,” Pelosi replied.

“Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do. And nobody’s waiting until February. I want this very much now because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail,” she said.

“Andrew Yang, he’s lovely. Ro Khanna, he’s lovely. They are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars,” she added.

Blitzer then asked Pelosi why she wouldn’t call Trump directly and try to work out a deal. Pelosi and Trump haven’t spoken directly in almost a year, but the Speaker has been holding frequent talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in recent days.

“What makes me amused, if it weren’t so sad, is how you all think that you know more about the suffering of the American people than those of us who are elected by them to represent them at that table,” Pelosi said.

In addition to Khanna and Yang, moderate Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus have also been vocal in recent weeks about urging leaders to reach a deal to help Americans in need because of circumstances arising from the pandemic. Blitzer then asked if there was reluctance to make a deal to “not allow the president to take credit if there’s a deal.”

“I don’t care about that,” Pelosi told Blitzer. “With all due respect, and you know we’ve known each other a long time, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, there’s some people who said this or that. Overwhelmingly, my caucus wants what is right for the American people,” she continued.

Blitzer later moved to end the interview, saying, “These are incredibly difficult times right now, and we’ll leave it on that note.”

“You are not right on this, Wolf. And I hate to say that. But I feel confident about it, and I feel confident about my colleagues, and I feel confidence in my [committee] chairs,” Pelosi said.

“It’s not about me. It’s about millions of Americans who can’t put food on the table, who can’t pay the rent,” Blitzer began.

“And we represent them,” Pelosi interjected. “We know them. We represent them.”

Blitzer again tried to wrap up the interview and thanked Pelosi for coming on his show, but then she said, “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.”

“I am sensitive to them,because I see them on the street begging for food, begging for money,” Blitzer said.

“Have you fed them? We feed them,” Pelosi replied.

“We’ll continue this conversation down the road for sure,” Blitzer said before cutting to a commercial break.

Pelosi similarly argued during a House Democratic Caucus call earlier Tuesday that Trump’s pleas for Congress to “go big” on a stimulus package give her leverage to hold out for a bigger bill.

“I appreciate the, shall we say, a couple people saying, ‘Take it, take it, take it,’” Pelosi said, according to a source on the call. “Take it? Take it? Even the president is saying, ‘Go big or go home.’”

Trump has repeatedly shifted positions on a coronavirus aid package in the last week. A week ago, he declared that the talks were off and urged Senate Republicans to focus on confirming his nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Hours later, he reversed course and called for standalone measures to provide stimulus checks as well as funding for airlines and small businesses.

On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!”

That ran counter to Senate Republicans, who indicated on Tuesday that they plan to vote next week on a “targeted” relief measure that would authorize about $500 billion in spending.

Tags Andrew Yang Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Ro Khanna Steven Mnuchin Wolf Blitzer

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