Nancy Pelosi: Doctored Videos Show Facebook 'Willing Enablers' of Russians in 2016

3 min
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on May 23, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Facebook on Wednesday, saying the social media giant's refusal to take down altered videos of her calls into question their contention that they were unwitting victims of Russian interference in 2016.

Facebook has allowed doctored videos of Pelosi — slowed down to make her appear drunk — to stay on the social media site even though they are clearly manipulated. The videos have been spread by right-wing websites in an attempt to discredit the speaker as she publicly feuds with President Trump.

Trump shared one heavily edited video on Twitter, which was first featured on Fox News, accusing the speaker of "stammering" through a news conference. Pelosi said Facebook knows the videos are false and should take them down.

"We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians. I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it's wrong," she said. "I can take it ... But [Facebook is] lying to the public."

Pelosi added, "I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election."

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Impeachment, 'We'll Go Where the Facts Take Us'

Pelosi was speaking to KQED News less than two hours after special counsel Robert Mueller made his first public comments on his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She didn't give much ground on impeachment, but pledged that Democrats will continue to probe President Trump.

"We'll go where the facts take us," Pelosi told KQED's Scott Shafer.

Robert Mueller and the Russia Investigation
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"We have to have the facts and we would like to have the facts presented in a way to the American people that makes it almost impossible for the Senate to exonerate," she said.

"We have six great chairmen who are getting results. We had three good court decisions last week about the president's violating the Constitution ... We had the other decision by the Justice Department that they would give us the documents requested by the Intelligence Committee. So we're making progress on gathering the facts that we need for an ironclad presentation."

Pelosi thanked Mueller for his "patriotism" and "for laying out the facts as he saw them in terms of the investigation of Russian interference in our elections, which he made clear happened."

Asked what Mueller's message was to Congress, she said it's possible that he is recommending impeachment. She expressed concern over the U.S. Justice Department's policy not to indict a sitting president, but said she believes that Mueller was following that policy in reaching the report's conclusions.

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"I don't know that our founders would have thought that we would have a jury — that would be the Senate — that would be so oblivious to the facts and the truth, a jury that would be an enabler of the crimes."

Pelosi said Trump is "of two minds" on impeachment.

"One is that he doesn't want, nobody wants to be impeached, right? Nobody wants to get caught," she said. "And secondly that he wants to be impeached because then the Republicans, in their enabling of these crimes, will exonerate him and he'll say 'I've been exonerated — why do we have to take this up in the courts.' "

Trump, along with the White House and his re-election campaign, released statements on Wednesday continuing to falsely claim that the Mueller report has exonerated him and that the special counsel's investigation into collusion with Russia was a hoax.

Mueller's office issued dozens of indictments related to interference in the 2016 election and has secured seven guilty pleas, including from numerous people close to Trump and his campaign.

Asked what she makes of those statements, Pelosi said it's not unusual for Trump to lie, though she did not use that word.

"That the president does not speak truth, that should not be news to anyone," she said. "Actually, when the president speaks you should turn it upside down."

She noted that far from exonerating Trump, "Robert Mueller said, 'If I thought if we could say that the president had not committed a crime we would have done so.' "

Pelosi said she believes Mueller is acting within the parameters he has to, given the Justice Department's policy not to indict a sitting president.

"It's clear that the president committed an indictable offense which the Justice Department is shielding him from," she said.

Pelosi blamed Attorney General Bill Barr.

"How can somebody at the Justice Department say that the president is above the law and at the same time be a shield for the president of the United States — to make ... a presentation of the Mueller Report which was inaccurate and a misrepresentation? And to lie to Congress about it, which the attorney general did," Pelosi said.

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