Impeachment puts Trump and Pelosi on track for epic clash
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will answer questions during a live CNN town hall moderated by Jake Tapper, Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
Pelosi said Thursday morning that the House should move forward with articles of impeachment, saying, “The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”
The speaker has taken pains this week to emphasize the seriousness of the inquiry to her colleagues — reinforcing that impeachment is a step she is reluctant to take. She has said little about her plans, going so far as to tell CNN she hadn’t made a decision on whether the House would impeach. But her deputies, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, have left little doubt about the direction in which the Democratic majority is headed.
“Never before, in the history of the republic, have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal, political favors from a foreign government,” Nadler said during Wednesday’s hearing. “Never before has a president engaged in a course of conduct that included all of the acts that most concerned the Framers. … President Trump did not merely seek to benefit from foreign interference in our elections. He directly and explicitly invited foreign interference in our elections. … If we do not act to hold him in check — now — President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit.”
But legions of women who loathe Trump will greet her as their hero as she shepherds impeachment through the House, casting a historic strike against his presidency before the inquiry moves to a Senate trial.
Pelosi has been the tip of the spear holding Trump accountable from the earliest days of the women’s marches all the way through this moment when a stunning 61% of American women favor Trump’s impeachment and removal (compared to 40% of men).
With Trump as her foil, the House speaker has launched countless memes as the embodiment of female empowerment — from the iconic image of her slipping on her sunglasses as she departed one White House dust-up, to the memorable photograph of her towering above a table of seated men in a bright blue jacket, pointing her finger at the President. Trump tweeted the photo with the caption “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown.” She responded by making it the cover photo on her Twitter page.
“If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who’s running to be the Democratic nominee for president next year, said during the last debate, putting a fine point on Pelosi’s role as Trump foe.
The House speaker is now preparing to preside over what many would see as an impossible challenge — executing the likely impeachment of a president while trying not to tear an already polarized nation apart. While whipping the votes for impeachment, she must also present the proceedings to the country in a way that protects 31 of her Democratic members who hold seats in districts that Trump won.
Cognizant of those risks, Pelosi resisted the drumbeat of impeachment from her colleagues for months, stating that it would be far too divisive and “not worth it.” She “crossed the Rubicon,” as she put it, after concluding that Trump betrayed his office by asking Ukraine’s President for help in investigating Joe Biden, his political rival, and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
But she is now confronting hesitance among American voters, which led her to try to tighten the case against the President after the first impeachment hearings in November by accusing the commander-in-chief of attempting bribery, a weighty charge that explicitly appears in the Constitution.
The devastating testimony, she said during one of her mid-November news conferences at the Capitol, “corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry” showing “that the President abused his power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.” It was, she concluded, “a clear attempt by the President to give himself advantage in the 2020 election.”
She now faces a heavy lift in the House after the two weeks of blockbuster testimony barely nudged public opinion. For a woman whose leadership style is grounded in listening and building consensus, she is staring down an electorate that is still dug in to their familiar partisan corners.
Pelosi tried to set a somber tone this week as Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff presented his report to the Democratic caucus on Tuesday morning, and the House Judiciary Committee began setting the framework for the articles of impeachment.
She told her colleagues it was a grave and prayerful time, underscoring that each member should be granted the latitude to draw their own conclusions about impeachment.
For many female voters in America, the spectacle that is about to unfold will be about much more than Trump’s maneuverings with Ukraine’s President; the way he has flaunted the constitutionally mandated separation of powers, or his refusal to let his aides cooperate with subpoenas in the congressional inquiry.
Pelosi has been cognizant of the image she projects as the female House speaker in the age of Trump: “I want women to see that you do not get pushed around. That you don’t run away from the fight,” she told Bash.
If she brings down the curtain on Trump’s impeachment, it will be the biggest fight of her career — and many women will be watching from the wings.