Finger pointing and voice hoarse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday delivered a broadside to a reporter that might well apply to all of impeachment-era Washington: “Don’t mess with me.”
It was a warning scarcely needed among the official set, least of all by President Donald Trump as he fights Pelosi and the Democrats in their drive to impeach him. Only a few hours earlier, Pelosi had instructed the Judiciary Committee to write articles of impeachment — formal charges — against Trump for pressuring Ukraine into investigating Democrat Joe Biden and resisting Congress’ probe.
The House speaker insisted she brought impeachment proceedings because Trump’s conduct and the Constitution left the House no choice.
“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said from the speaker’s office at the Capitol. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
But as the famously poised California Democrat began exiting a news conference two hours later, a reporter asked, “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?”
Pelosi stopped near the edge of the podium, jabbed a finger and said tersely: “I don’t hate anybody.”
She went on to call Trump a “coward” on gun policy, “cruel” on immigration and “in denial” on climate change.
“This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of the oath of office. And I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me.”
“Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
Trump tweeted that Pelosi “just had a nervous fit.”
“She says she ‘prays for the President.’ I don’t believe her, not even close,” he added.
Moments later, House Republicans lashed out in heated personal tones.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted, “Pelosi and the Democrats clearly are blinded by their hate for the President.”