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Nancy Pelosi shuts down questions about disagreements with freshmen Dems

Nancy Pelosi declines to address party tensions

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the administration's upcoming immigration raids, and she also weighed in on the president's expected executive action involving the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Pelosi also shut down further questions about her disagreements with several freshmen members of the Democratic caucus. 

Here are the highlights from her weekly news conference Thursday:

Tensions with freshmen members

Pelosi spoke amid increasing tensions between House leadership and prominent progressive freshmen members. 

In an interview with the New York Times published Sunday, Pelosi minimized the influence of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, a diverse and young group of progressive freshmen who refer to themselves as "the Squad." The four were the only Democrats to vote against the recent border security bill.

"All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world," Pelosi said in the interview. "But they didn't have any following. They're four people and that's how many votes they got."

In an interview with the Washington Post Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez said that Pelosi's comments were "disrespectful."

"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez told the Post. "But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."

Pelosi met with members of the Democratic caucus Wednesday telling them to come to leadership when they have a problem instead of tweeting about it.

"So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," Pelosi told Democrats, according to Politico. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK."

In her press conference Thursday, Pelosi did not elaborate on potential divisions within the caucus.

"I've said what I'm going to say in the caucus," Pelosi said in the press conference. "I'm not going to be addressing it any further."  She said she was addressing "an offensive tweet" that had come from a member's office. The tweet likened the more moderate Democrats to segregationists. "I addressed that. How they're interpreting and carrying it to another places is up to them, but I'm not going to be discussing it any further," she said.

"What I said in the caucus yesterday got an overwhelming response from my members," Pelosi said. "We respect the value of every member of our caucus."

Immigration raids

Pelosi condemned what she called the president's "heartless raids," and she told reporters said she planned to appeal to people in the faith communities to convince President Trump to stop the immigration raids. "They put them in office and they have a better voice where that is," she said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids are expected to begin Sunday in at least 10 major cities, CBS News has confirmed. The New York Times first reported the timing of the raids. 

Pelosi continued, "Hopefully the president will think again about it or these groups will weigh in. Once again, families belong together."

Detention facilities and migrant children

She referred to herself as a "lioness" who would "protect our cubs," in reference to migrant children. As for the changes to the laws that Trump asked for, she said Democrats want their bill (a version of the Dream Act) but that's "not something you can do in two weeks."  

She also said that the House would continue to advocate for migrant children held in detention facilities. The House recently passed a border security bill that did not include provisions sought by some Democrats to protect migrants.

Census question

The House speaker predicted that if President Trump signs an executive order to include the citizenship question in the 2020 census, it "will continue to be challenged in court." 

"The Supreme Court destroyed the administration's argument that the question was needed to support the Voting Rights Act," Pelosi said. "Really, including their rationale was based on a contrived pretext." She went on to say that next week, the full House will be voting on a criminal contempt resolution for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census and whose explanation citing the Voting Rights Act was rejected by the Supreme Court. 

Pelosi's press conference came hours before Mr. Trump was expected to take executive action on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census

The anticipated executive action comes as the president has been exhibiting frustration over the Supreme Court decision that his administration failed to provide an adequate justification for adding the citizenship question to the census. Multiple legal battles over the question are still playing out in lower courts.

For now, the census forms are still being printed. "June 30 was the deadline," Pelosi said. "So we're printing the forms, we fully expect the census to go forward."

Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.