House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Trump calling the Russia bounty scandal a hoax is a dereliction of duty and calls into questions his fitness to be commander-in-chief.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: For a Gold Star mom who lost her son in Afghanistan, reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers aren't about politics. They're life or death.
Her plea for answers is at the heart of a growing call to action from Democrats on Capitol Hill, as the president continues to call the whole story a politically motivated hoax.
It pains me to say that.
Joining us now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, I suppose it was predictable that a story of Vladimir Putin trying to harm the United States, and Donald Trump doing zip, zilch, nada about it, even though he was briefed about it, would be called a hoax, but it's still jarring and shocking, when you have got grieving family members.
What is your hope -- what do you hope to learn, what do you plan to ask at your briefing tomorrow?
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, first, may I just say how jarring it is to hear a mom, a Gold Star mom, talk about the loss of a child? It's so very sad.
Let me -- let me just enlarge the issues for a moment. First of all, as a longtime intelligence person -- I am a generation Intelligence Community -- our first responsibility of intelligence from the start is force protection.
When we're going to send our troops into harm's way, or whether we're initiating hostilities, or they're going to other harm's way, we have to make sure we're doing everything to protect, force protection, force protection.
We say of our men and women on the battlefield we leave no one behind. When they come home, we leave no veteran behind. All the more reason to protect them right from the start.
In light of that, to see this threat, this possible bounty on our soldiers be treated so lightly, without investigation and the rest, is so inappropriate. It is dereliction of duty.
The president is the commander-in-chief, the president of the United States. He is supposed to have judgment about how to make decisions about the security of our country.
In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge. For him to ignore the facts in a presidential daily briefing, as a matter of habit, is dereliction of duty.
And the third point I would make is, there's enough reason for us to believe that this dereliction of duty cannot just be the course of action we take. We must institute sanctions against Russia, and we must do it right away.
WALLACE: Madam Speaker, you have called Mitch McConnell Moscow Mitch. I think in part for his reluctance to do anything about election interference.
As the mosaic comes into focus, you have got an Intelligence Community either so chilled by Donald Trump's affinity for Vladimir Putin, or so out of gas at trying to brief the unbriefable. You have got Senate Republicans totally unwilling to fortify our elections ahead of 2020. The whole lot of them are in denial about 2016.
What do you -- what can you do in the next 120 days to protect the 2020 election?
PELOSI: Well, first, let me just say, you just described, not only for the president, but the Republicans in Congress, dereliction of duty, undermining our own elections, undermining our commitment to NATO, under -- giving away the store, the base, in Syria.
The list goes on and on, ignoring the invasion of -- the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of Eastern Ukraine. The list goes on and on.
And this president has always given it some nickname, as if that passes for humor in certain circles. He calls it a hoax. Same thing he called COVID-19, a hoax. He said it will disappear.
He said, this never even happened.
There is no reality in the judgment of this president, and there is real sadness in what the Republicans have been willing to swallow that he has put forth.
And you know what? He is shining a light very brightly on the puppet strings that he is pulling on them, humiliating them, as he takes the country in the wrong direction, not taking us in the right place in curing COVID and taking us, opening our economy in a healthy way, and not protecting us on the battlefield, when he lets the Russians get away with murder.