This week, those of us who never lost faith in Nancy Pelosi witnessed the confirmation of our trust.
On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Pelosi was on the phone with Donald Trump, talking about gun violence. As New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports, Trump attempted to pivot to discuss an intelligence community whistleblower complaint against him.
Pelosi, a 25-year veteran of congressional intelligence oversight, shut that down.
“Mr. President,” she said, “you have come into my wheelhouse.”
Madam Speaker wasn’t playing. Hours later, she announced her decision to open a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump.
Only she would decide when she would do this. Unlike the armchair speakers of the House who’ve been attacking her for weeks, Pelosi knows that so much about leadership is timing.
An excerpt of her short speech, televised live:
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the president says, ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want.’ For the past several months, we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all of the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of Articles of Impeachment.
“And this week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The … actions of the Trump presidency revealed a dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.
“Therefore, today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I am directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.
“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, ‘The times have found us.’ The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today.”
As I write, news continues to break in the wake of this announcement. Rather than risk sharing an incomplete account, let’s focus on the irrefutable:
If Trump believed he was innocent, he would immediately and publicly support this investigation.
“I have done nothing wrong,” he would say. “Let Congress investigate, and I will prove my innocence.”
Instead, Donald Trump did what Donald Trump always does when he’s caught up in a scandal of his own making. He exploded on Twitter.
There were the usual references to a “witch hunt,” and another round of attacks on several Democratic members of Congress, culminating in a tweet that reads like a shouted confession: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” The mouth yammers on, but the heart knows what it knows.
Many of us baby boomers are having a Watergate moment. We remember the hearings that culminated in the president of the United States resigning, rather than face certain impeachment. Richard Nixon had engaged in criminal acts as president and betrayed the Americans he was sworn to protect, but he had reached his limits. He resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, giving Americans a chance to believe our country again.
This time is different. Donald Trump has given us no evidence to believe he will spare us a long and painful dissection of all that he has done to damage and endanger this country. He will make us go through this because he’s never cared about us, or our version of America. In response, we will have to be strong. This, too, is what it means to be an American.
The times have found us, Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday.
We will answer the call.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. Her novel, “Erietown,” will be published by Random House in Spring 2020. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.