During the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, there was much rumbling from the rank-and-file of the left about impeaching President Donald Trump if a Democrat majority in Congress was achieved, even as Democratic Party leaders studiously attempted to quiet those rumblings and downplay the inevitability of such an effort to remove Trump from office.
Unfortunately for new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not all of the incoming Democratic representatives got that particular memo to hold off on talking impeachment.
New Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib gleefully told a room full of progressive supporters on Thursday that, “We’re gonna go in there and impeach the motherf—er!”
Pelosi sat down Friday for an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, set to air in full Friday evening, and was asked for her reaction to Tlaib’s inflammatory remark about the president. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pelosi actually defended the divisive comment and sought to shift blame for the “colorful language” used onto Trump himself.
Pelosi said with a laugh, “I probably have a generational reaction to it … but in any event, I’m not in the censorship business. I don’t think, I mean, I don’t like that language, I wouldn’t use that language, I don’t think I’ll establish any language standards for my colleagues.”
“But I don’t think it’s worse than anything the president has said,” she added.
Reid asked if the talk of impeachment was more helpful or hurtful to Democratic oversight of the president. Pelosi replied, “I think it probably consolidates his base, but I don’t think they need much consolidation. I don’t think it makes that much difference.”
Reid pressed on whether the idea of impeachment was “pre-baked into the cake” of the incoming House majority and a certainty. In response, Pelosi said, “Well, you have to weigh the equities. That is not the position of the House Democratic Caucus, and the equity to be weighed is, that is the freedom of speech of an individual member.”
“As I say, generationally that would not be language I would use, but nonetheless, I don’t think we should make a big deal of it, I really don’t,” she continued. “That’s probably the way people talk now … but I’m a grandmother and that’s a different story.”
“Words weigh a ton, and the president has to realize that his words weigh a ton too, and some of the words he uses have a direct impact on people’s lives,” she added. “My colleague’s comments do not have an impact on people’s lives.”
The Daily Beast reported that Rep. Tlaib’s office doubled down on the use of explicit language, and said in a statement: “Congresswoman Tlaib was elected to shake up Washington, not continue the status quo. Donald Trump is completely unfit to serve as President. The Congresswoman absolutely believes he needs to be impeached.”
But NBC News reported that new House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took issue both with Tlaib’s remark and Pelosi’s defense of it, and told reporters, “I think this is a role as a leader and the speaker to have a conversation with this member on whether she approves of this or not. They’re using foul language, they introduce that they just want to impeach the president. Over what basis? We have a government shut down right now. Where are their priorities?”
Pelosi’s defense of Tlaib’s language also stood in stark contrast to a vow made by Pelosi in October during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” when she agreed with failed Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton that there would be a return of civility to Capitol Hill and the body politic once Democrats had taken the House back.
Pelosi said, “Well, I think when we win, you will see evidence of that. Because when we do win, we will have, as we open the new Congress, we will honor the vows of our founders, E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. It’s OK to disagree in the marketplace of ideas, that’s exciting, but it is also important to find solutions that unify and not divide.”
Allowing — or worse, defending — an incoming freshman member of Congress joyfully vowing to “impeach the motherf—er” on their first day in office is not exactly conducive to fostering civility or honoring the founders or finding “solutions that unify and not divide.”
Instead, Tlaib’s remarks do just the opposite, and reveal the true agenda and top priority of the new Democratic House majority — impeaching Trump — while at the same time undermining the new Speaker’s credibility, in that if she can’t keep her freshmen members in line and focused, why should she be trusted to lead on anything else?
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