Pelosi defends not speaking to Trump for an entire year

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday defended not speaking to President Trump for the past year and maintained it’s more productive to work with White House intermediaries like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin instead.

When asked during an interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace if she would be open to Trump reaching out to her, Pelosi said, “It would depend on what the purpose is.”

Pelosi and Trump have not spoken since a meeting at the White House exactly a year ago, on Oct. 16, 2019, about pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria that ultimately turned into the two trading insults and the Speaker walking out with her fellow Democrats.

After that meeting, Trump tweeted out a photo of Pelosi standing up and pointing a finger at him while the almost exclusively male group of lawmakers and administration officials remained seated. “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Trump wrote.

Pelosi said that she was telling Trump that “all roads with you lead to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” in the moment captured by the photo.

“What was funny about it is the White House put out that photo, because we’re not even allowed to wear a smartwatch in the room,” Pelosi said while reflecting on it on Friday. “They put that out and I said, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. President.’ “

“But we left because there was no purpose to staying there. There was no truth coming from the other side,” she said.

The two sides were also unable to agree at the time on what insult Trump lobbed at Pelosi during the meeting a year ago. Trump called Pelosi a “third rate” politician during that meeting, according to the White House, but Pelosi said afterward that she heard him say “third grade” politician.

After returning to the Capitol from the White House that day, Pelosi told reporters that “we have to pray for his health.”

Pelosi and Trump were last in the same room together at the National Prayer Breakfast in early February, when he said that he doesn’t like people who “who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that’s not so.”

That event came two days after Trump’s State of the Union address, where he appeared to ignore Pelosi’s attempt at a handshake and she ripped up a copy of his speech.

Pelosi pointed to bipartisan agreements like on government funding, coronavirus relief measures and a revised trade pact with Mexico and Canada that she negotiated with Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials, even though she and the president didn’t speak directly.

“So it isn’t as if it has to be person to person between the Speaker and the president. It has to be knowledge for knowledge in terms of what our purpose is, what we know about the challenge we face and what the possible solutions are,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi, Mnuchin and Senate Republicans have struggled for the last three months to reach an agreement on another round of coronavirus relief, even as benefits like enhanced unemployment insurance expired.

Pelosi and Mnuchin made some headway on Thursday after the White House largely agreed to Democrats’ demands for a national coronavirus testing strategy with $75 billion for testing and tracing efforts.

She also said that the two sides remain in disagreement about earned income and child tax credits as outlined in Democrats’ coronavirus relief proposal.

Pelosi said that Mnuchin had yet to send her his proposed changes on a testing strategy, but that she expected they would talk again on Sunday.

“So we’ll still waiting to see what the changes are, because as you know, the devil and the angels are in the detail,” Pelosi said.

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