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Hoyer steps in to defend Pelosi

From NBC's Luke Russert
In a previously unscheduled press conference today, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer vigorously defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today. Hoyer stepped up to the press podium after GOP Rep. Rob Bishop introduced a resolution calling for a bipartisan investigation into Pelosi's claim that the CIA misled her about the use of waterboarding. The measure was later tabled by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Defending Pelosi, Hoyer said: "I have been saying for some weeks now that Republicans are pursuing a policy of distraction -- a policy of trying to divert the view of the American public from the serious business that confronts this Congress and this country." He then repeated an old line from former Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt saying: "Republicans for the last few weeks have been focused on the politics of personal destruction." Hoyer, then quoting a line from Time magazine, added: "[I]n looking at the substance of the accusations, it increasingly looks like she [Pelosi] was right."

One of Hoyer's lines of defense was to repeat statements made by top Republican officials over the past five years that were highly critical of the intelligence community. Hoyer quoted Minority Leader John Boehner as saying on December 9th, 2007 in regards to the national intelligence estimate on Iran: "Either I don't have confidence in what the intelligence community told me several months ago, or I don't have confidence in what they are telling me today." Then Hoyer quoted Newt Gingrich on the same estimate in 2007 as saying: "It is so professionally unworthy intellectually indefensible and fundamentally misleading it is damaging to our national security."

Hoyer's tone was stern and serious, and it was clear he was fervently backing up the leader of his caucus. Hoyer rejected Boehner's call for a bipartisan commission to investigate Pelosi's charge that the CIA lied to her and instead called for an investigation into how the United States supposedly allowed torture to occur.

*** UPDATE *** Boehner spokesman Michael Steel pushes back against Hoyer comparing Boehner's criticism of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate to Pelosi's dust-up with the CIA. "There is a world of difference between asking questions about complex -- and sometimes contradictory -- intelligence analysis and accusing the CIA of deliberately lying to Congress with no evidence."