“Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory,” Pelosi evenly responded, prompting a flustered look on the president’s face. The meeting soon ended, and as Pelosi exited, she put on her sunglasses and a bright red coat, and thus gave birth to a meme:
She Knows How to Make a Point
In 2019, during a contentious meeting about Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, a move opposed by a 354-60 bipartisan vote in the House, Trump thought he had finally caught Pelosi is a damaging moment, tweeting out the now-famous photo of Pelosi standing and pointing at him in what looked like a gesture of warning. He captioned it, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” But reposted it herself, using it as the background picture for her Twitter feed:
Afterward, Pelosi (not for the first time, and certainly not the last), expressed concern about the president’s mental health. “He just couldn’t handle it, so he kind of engaged in a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters. Later, Pelosi added: “I think now we have to pray for his health, because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
Throwing a Little Shade (Part One)
During a government shutdown, Pelosi told reporters that Trump didn’t understand the financial pressure government employees were facing and none-too-subtly mocked him for not having made any real money on his own, having inherited a family business that his father kept having to prop up when it ran into financial problems. “Many federal workers will not be receiving their paychecks, and what that means in their lives is tragic … the president seems to be insensitive to that,” Pelosi said. “He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money. But they can’t.”
Throwing a Little Shade (Part Two)
In October of last year, when President Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 and announced that he was being treated with hydroxychloroquine despite the FDA’s doubts about the experimental drug’s efficacy and warnings about its possible side effects, Pelosi expressed concern. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the Speaker said, “I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group—morbidly obese, they say. So, I think that it’s not a good idea.” Later, in an interview with MSNBC, when told that Trump was angered by Pelosi’s comment about his weight, she replied: “I didn’t know that he would be so sensitive. He’s always talking about other people’s … weight, their pounds.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Pelosi memorably managed to upstage Trump’s State of the Union address in 2019 by the sheer force of her silent actions. Throughout his speech, Pelosi, sitting behind the president but in full view of the cameras, punctuated the pomposity of his address with eye rolls and disdainful smirks. Then, when Trump called on Washington to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation,” Pelosi stood up and applauded so sarcastically that the hashtag #PelosiClap instantly went viral. And, of course, at the end of the speech, she theatrically ripped her copy of it in half—once again having the last word over this president.
Impeachment Is Sweeter the Second Time Around
Even though Trump had only two weeks in office when he incited a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi was determined that he would pay a price for his role in the insurrection. She quickly moved toward impeachment, which passed the House by a 232 to 197 vote on Jan. 13, the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the nation’s history, and making Trump the only president to be impeached twice. On the day after Joe Biden was inaugurated, she was asked by reporters about the rationale behind moving impeachment toward a Senate trial, given that Trump was no longer in office, and she was resolute.
“The fact is, the president of the United States committed an act of incitement of insurrection,” Pelosi declared. “I don’t think it’s very unifying to say, ‘Oh, let’s just forget it and move on.’ That’s not how you unify. Just because he is gone”—and here Pelosi paused briefly, clasped her hands and said, “thank God”—”we don’t say to a president, ‘Do whatever you want in the last months of your administration’ … I think that would be harmful for unity.”