As 2019 comes to a close, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) finds herself in a position she might not have imagined herself in just a year ago.
Last December, Pelosi had yet to take up the speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives that the Democrats had just won back after the 2018 midterms and was facing grumblings of a challenge to a reassumption of that position.
She had a negative view of any attempts to impeach Donald Trump, saying “He’s just not worth it.”
Now, just days after the House formally voted to impeach the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Pelosi finds herself arguably in the most powerful position of her career with some momentous decisions ahead of her.
With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) having publicly abdicated his responsibility to face the pending impeachment trial in his chamber of Congress with the serious and impartial examination of the evidence and the testimony of direct witnesses to Trump’s misdeeds, Speaker Pelosi must try to determine the best way to outmaneuver the Republicans and ensure that the charges against the president are given the complete and fair consideration that they deserve despite the GOP’s blanket denial of the reality of the crimes that Trump committed.
As she considers withholding the transmittal of the article of impeachment to the Senate as leverage to guarantee an actual trial rather than a simple partisan popularity contest, Speaker Pelosi dismisses the characterization of herself as “too afraid” to immediately send the impeachment to a Senate trial, according to a new interview in an article in POLITICO.
“Oh pfft,” Pelosi told POLITICO. “Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away,” Pelosi added. “I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”
The Speaker ridiculed the hyperbolic tactics of House Republicans who screamed and shouted their way through the impeachment hearings and compared the Democratic attempts to hold the president accountable for his transgressive behavior to Christ’s crucifixion and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I mean really? Get out of here,” Pelosi scoffed.
“Some of them don’t believe in the Constitution,” she added derisively. “They didn’t act upon it, they acted completely against it. They believe in Donald Trump.”
Pelosi hit on a wide range of topics in her POLITICO interview, including her response to Trump’s tweeting out of a photo of her literally standing up to the president after he insulted her in a White House meeting that she walked out of. Trump posted the iconic photo with the comment: “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”
“Can you believe they tweeted that out?” she said disbelievingly. “They thought it was a thing to tweet it out. ‘There she is falling apart in a room full of white men.’ And I go out saying, ‘All roads lead to Putin.’”
Despite the political animosity between the House Speaker and the president, Pelosi exhibits her Catholic upbringing by continuing to pray for Trump — although she doesn’t reveal the exact wording of her heavenly petitions — and confounded the nation by handing Trump a legislative victory in the house during the same week that he was impeached by helping pass the USMCA trade agreement, a/k/a NAFTA II.
Pelosi was comfortable shepherding the bill to completion after pressuring multiple changes to its provisions over months of negotiating with the Trump administration to include more labor protections than it initially featured.
“Sometimes when you do something there’s a collateral benefit,” Pelosi said of the USMCA. “And it was just not worth it to us to say we’re not doing it because of [Trump].”
The Speaker exhibited a tremendous optimism for the future of the Democratic party as presaged by the number of House Republicans declining to stand for reelection next year.
“It means that they know they’re gonna lose,” Pelosi opined. “And if you win, you’re going to serve in the minority under a Democratic president. You may want to spend more time with your family,” she archly declared.
Now that’s a Christmas wish that many of us can only hope is granted, and granted as overwhelmingly and decisively as possible.
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Original reporting by Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan at POLITICO.