Maureen Dowd: Why Nancy Pelosi pressed ‘impeach’ button
The speaker is in a fine mood now she has turned her attention to reining in Trump
US speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: The president ‘said the phone call was perfect . . . It wasn’t perfect.’ Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
It’s a beautiful day for an impeachment. Or at least an inquiry about an impeachment inquiry. So on Friday, as summer stretched on, I went to the Capitol to see what the speaker of the House was thinking, now that she has lowered the boom.
At the tender age of 73, Donald Trump may finally have to face some consequences for his depredations. His casino games have caught up with him and this time Daddy’s not here to bail him out. How delicious that a woman has the whip hand. “Isn’t it something, Maureen?” Nancy Pelosi asks about what she calls her “wild week”. I nod. It surely is.
“The president says you’re no longer speaker of the House, that you’ve been taken over by the radical left,” I say to Pelosi, who looks smart in a pink pantsuit and sparkly pink high heels. She laughs.
“See, I always think he’s projecting. When he says, ‘She’s not the speaker of the House,’ what he really means is, ‘I shouldn’t be president of the United States. ’ When he says that Adam Schiff should resign, what he really means is, ‘I, Donald Trump, should resign.’ He knows that this is really very incriminating.”
I have said from the start, we’ll go where the facts take us and we will be ready
The speaker is in a fine mood, now that she’s turned her focus from reining in the progressives to reining in the president. Does she no longer think, as she said for months, that impeachment is so divisive that it needs to be a bipartisan effort?
“No, I said I hoped it would be bipartisan. I still hope so. It’s up to the Republicans whether they honour their oath of office or honour their oath of Trump.”
I ask her how she feels about those who say she came to this moment belatedly. “I don’t come to anything belatedly,” she shoots back. “I have said from the start, we’ll go where the facts take us and we will be ready. And we are ready. And they’re shocked.”
Trump was clearly smarting that Pelosi is now on the side of an impeachment inquiry. Is the high-chair king about to have his most epic tantrum yet? Even Trump’s pal Chris Ruddy told NPR that the president may not understand the implications of the inquiry or that he’s going up against “the smartest person in Washington right now”, as Ruddy called Pelosi.
The speaker would have preferred to send Trump packing at the ballot box. But since he keeps contaminating the ballot box, asking foreign countries to meddle in our elections to help him win, what choice did she have? The man who always claims the system is rigged against him keeps trying to rig the system – proving Pelosi’s point that Trump projects.
About the White House officials who engaged in what she calls “the cover-up of the cover-up”, she notes: “You’d think that there would be some sense of decency on the part of the people who work for the president.”
I ask her when the last time she talked to Trump was. “You mean the latest?” she says, laughing. “It may be the last.” They were talking about gun violence on the phone on Tuesday morning when the president suddenly changed the topic to the whistleblower complaint. “My conversation with the president was one in which he said the phone call was perfect and he couldn’t wait until I saw it because it was perfect. It wasn’t perfect.”
I think the White House should have an honest lawyer on staff, and not a rogue justice department
The White House says it plans to work with Democrats in Congress even less than usual. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump met with NRA ghoul Wayne LaPierre to talk about how the NRA can chip in some blood money for the president’s defence if he stops “the games” – “the games” being any attempt to curb our periodic human sacrifices. Hasn’t Trump learned his lesson about scummy quid pro quos? It’s hard to fathom why he would slip the noose on Robert Mueller’s testimony on Russia, and then turn around the very next day and ask Ukraine to interfere in an American election.
“I’ve said before, I do not have the medical background to analyse the president’s behaviour,” Pelosi says.
Maybe it’s time to break the last taboo and put a psychiatrist on staff at the White House to analyse a president’s mental state, or possible impairment?
“No, I think the White House should have an honest lawyer on staff,” she says, “and not a rogue justice department.”
Speaking of rogue justice and psychiatric emergencies, what does she make of America’s mayor becoming America’s nightmare?
“I’m focused on the president,” she says, adding disgustedly about Rudy Giuliani: “I mean, that’s almost like a joke.”
She did not arrive at her decision lightly. In between speaking at two funerals – that of Cokie Roberts, the journalist, and Emily Clyburn, the wife of the House majority whip Jim Clyburn – she talked to her members, lawyers and constitutional experts. “I had one phone call; it lasted all weekend,” she says dryly. She drafted her historic statement Monday night on the plane from New York to DC.
“‘Betrayal’ was a word that my members wanted me to use,” she says. “I didn’t have that in my original statement. Betrayal of the constitution. Betrayal of our national security. Betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
If only she could click those sparkly slippers three times and send Donald Trump home. – New York Times