Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow for an exclusive interview this afternoon, discussing the scandal surrounding former Rep. Eric Massa, the push by Democrats for the passage of a health care reform bill and the GOP obstruction in Congress. Rep. Pelosi addressed allegations today that her office was aware of allegations against Massa earlier, saying: "I'm now finding out that there had been a conversation earlier, but it had nothing to do -- to even come close to any kind of an allegation. It was repeated something that had been in the newspaper the day before. But in terms of anything that is worthy of the attention of the Ethics Committee, that was in February when it was reported to the Ethics Committee."
A partial transcript of the interview is below; it will air in its entirety tonight on "The Rachel Maddow Show," 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC. If used must credit MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."
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MADDOW: Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to make a whole new issue. And I have to ask you about this because it's sort of the story of the day from the Republican perspective. And they're trying to make an issue of Congressman Massa's -- not just his resignation but how allegations against him were handled. Do you support the Ethics Committee investigating not Congressman Massa, because he's gone now, but how the allegations against him were handled? Do you support that?
PELOSI: Well, that was what we had voted on the floor, to refer it to the Ethics Committee, sure.
MADDOW: OK. And in terms of how the allegations were handled, when did
-- when was your office first told about concerns about his behavior?
PELOSI: Well, any -- report to our office was in February that there was an allegation against him, and at the same time, that it was referred to the Ethics Committee, and that was the appropriate route. I'm now finding out that there had been a conversation earlier, but it had nothing to do -- to even come close to any kind of an allegation. It was repeated something that had been in the newspaper the day before.
But in terms of anything that is worthy of the attention of the Ethics Committee, that was in February when it was reported to the Ethics Committee.
MADDOW: So just to be clear, that earlier -- several months ago allegation -- October, I believe -- not an allegation but rather that something was referred to, staffers in your office, member services director? Um, but--
PELOSI: A staffer, yeah.
MADDOW: A staffer in your office, but it was not something that your staff believed rose to the level --
MADDOW: of an (PELOSI interjects) allegation --
PELOSI: ---but there are all kinds of articles that are written about many members in the Congress, and I don't think we want to get to a place -- besides, I served on the Ethics Committee for seven years. When I say served, it was almost like a sentence because it's very tough duty, and I commend the people who serve there and the service they provide to the Congress.
But the last thing we would have wanted then was any intervention from the Speaker's office. There's an appropriate way for an allegation to be sent to the Ethics Committee, and it shouldn't be something that is the -- the Speaker's office is the melting -- or the mixing (MADDOW starts to speak) pot --or wherever for that --
MADDOW: Are you troubled though now -- I mean, Congressman Massa's behavior since he -- around the time that he resigned and since he resigned has been inconsistent. He initially, for example, made an allegation that he was being forced out because he was a vote against health care. And then he recanted that allegation. He's made some other inconsistent statements. But we're left with the impression that he may have behaved inappropriately toward people who worked for him, and toward---
PELOSI: (quietly) no..(inaudible)
MADDOW: --other people who worked in this building.
PELOSI: That's up to the Ethics Committee to investigate. But the fact is that you started this conversation in the right way. That it's another subject that people would like to be a distraction. I will not take my eye off the ball, which is to pass health care reform right now, and to at this time to build support for what we are doing. And -- people like to mix those two. Not you -- but the Republicans. You're never to be taken for one of them --
PELOSI: -- but I know you're nonpartisan. But in any event, the -- for me -- I'm not paying a lot of attention to some of that. It's appropriately being dealt with where it's being dealt with. What I'm paying attention is how do we get to what we had dreamed of, to follow in the footsteps of Social Security, Medicare, health care for all Americans. It's a very heavy lift, it's very labor intensive. Our members have spent a great deal of time on it, and we want to protect that investment.