In the latest installment of the White House’s bleak iteration of Punch and Judy show, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly squared off once again.
In January, Pelosi stopped by ABC’s “This Week” to make the vague and frankly terrifying claim that Trump has already been “impeached for life,” regardless of whatever shenanigans Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is inevitably planning to pull during the president’s upcoming Senate trial.
“This president is impeached for life regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi said. “There is nothing the Senate can do to ever erase that.”
The comment inspired its own Twitter hashtag, #ImpeachedForLife, followed, in due time, by its unavoidable counterpart: #NancyPelosiFakeNews. It’s not the first time two of the most visible leaders of the free world have engaged in a spat so unproductive that it somehow makes the rest of Twitter look light and fun by comparison, and it certainly won’t be the last.
On February 4, after Trump’s lengthy 2020 State of the Union, the duo went toe-to-toe once again when Trump refused to shake Pelosi’s hand, and she decidedly destroyed his speech at the end — literally.
Trump and Pelosi’s feud runs deep and unrelenting — from the infamous Pelosi clap to the practically daily Twitterstorm sponsored by @realDonaldTrump to that letter about Trump’s impeachment. The bad blood between these two top-ranking U.S. leaders goes beyond just entertainment fodder — it’s elicited some of the most intense political quarrels (and low-brow jokes) perhaps in history. So without further ado, let’s take a look back at some of the high-profile clashes between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi cancels Trump’s 2019 State of the Union
One of the most recognizable hallmarks of our current political moment is that, while everything feels uniquely bad, it somehow simultaneously feels like it’s all happening for the millionth time in a row — Groundhog Day-style. While it’s hard to remember for sure if the 2019 government shutdown was for sure the first time Pelosi and Trump publicly butted heads since the latter took office, seeing as how time doesn’t matter, it seems like a fine place to start.
After the House Speaker publicly rescinded her collegial invitation to Trump to deliver his State of the Union, citing the ongoing government shutdown as her reasoning, the president responded by summarily announcing that Pelosi’s planned trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan had also been cancelled.
“Dear Madame Speaker: Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Trump wrote. “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over,”
The infamous Pelosi Clap™
Nearly a month after the public meltdown over cancelled flights, Trump arrived at the Capitol Building to deliver his State of the Union address at long last. What he likely didn’t count on, however, was Pelosi being right there with him, locked and loaded, ready to antagonize like only someone who has spent their wading into political dogfights knows how to.
Not only did Pelosi show up in white — white! On HIS day! — she expertly stole Trump’s thunder with a couple of perfectly timed flashes of side-eye and an appropriately withering round of applause. Most importantly, the Pelosi Clap, which went down as one of the most meme-d moments maybe of Trump’s entire presidency. In this moment, Pelosi sarcastically clapped for Trump, pursing her lips, and seemingly holding back laugher as he turned around to look back at her and Vice President Mike Pence.
Pelosi announces the official impeachment inquiry into Trump
The incident that really launched the whole thing into the sun was the moment Pelosi caved to months of political pressure and officially announced that she was reversing her longstanding position on refusing to impeach Trump on some bizarre bipartisan impulse. This was the official mark of the impeachment inquiry into the president, to which he has refused to tolerate every step of the way.
At the close of one particular press conference Pelosi gave in the midst of a media firestorm over the impeachment proceedings, one reporter’s question wafted above the others as the House Speaker attempted to maker her way offstage: “Do you hate the President, Madam Speaker?”
The insinuation prompted to swivel around and hustle back to the podium for one final thought. “I don’t hate anybody,” she said. “I was raised in a Catholic house. We don’t hate anybody… I still pray for the President. I pray for the President all the time. So, don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
It is widely acknowledged that telling somebody that you are “praying” for them is one of the most hilarious and classy ways to be rude, so hats off to Pelosi for really nailing the tone here.
The baffling Trump impeachment letter
Days before the House was slated to vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump, he published a jumbled six-page open letter addressed to “The Honorable Nancy Pelosi” in which he derided the entire proceeding as a partisan sham. Trump referred to the impeachment hearings as an “open war on democracy,” and Pelosi responded in kind by calling it “sick.”
Also within the letter, Trump accused Pelosi of “violating your oaths of office… [and] breaking your allegiance to the Constitution.” It quickly became the subject of Stephen Colbert’s “impeachment eve” rant.
Pelosi announces Trump’s impeachment with a distinct “mom side eye”
On December 19, 2019 — the day the House was set to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump — Pelosi once again threw a sartorial gauntlet. This time dressed in all-black and wearing a Mace of the Republic brooch meant to symbolize the legislative authority of the House of Representatives.
Also under close scrutiny on that day? Pelosi’s facial expression, which a body language expert told Refinery29 could have been not-so-subtly repressed glee.
“She gave the mom side eye of admonishment,” the expert said. “If you look at her lips, there’s lack of symmetry. Part of her wants to be emotional and express outward.”
Merry Christmas, “Crazy Nancy Pelosi”
This is Trump’s go-to insult for the House Speaker on Twitter, and he’s deployed it dozens of times at this point. But, he even did it on Christmas this past year amid a riveting impeachment announcement. Middling burn, 4.5/10 stars.
Nancy Pelosi rips up Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech
On February 4, 2020, Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union speech with Pelosi and vice president Mike Pence sitting behind him. When walking into the room, Trump seemingly denied Pelosi a hand shake and tensions were already high. When he concluded his speech, Pelosi stood up and began ripping her copy of the speech in front of everyone. “It was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative,” Pelosi said in an interview following the SOTU.
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