President Trump lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a tweet early on Tuesday morning, misquoting her while characterizing the ongoing impeachment inquiry as a ploy to skirt around the 2020 election because “she thinks I will win.”
Stressing the importance of the impeachment hearings, Pelosi said in a “Dear Colleague” memo, “The weak response to these hearings has been, ‘Let the election decide.’ That dangerous position only adds to the urgency of our action, because the President is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections.”
Tweeting after midnight Tuesday, Trump attributed a quote about the 2020 election to the House speaker — but it appears the quote actually came from a Fox News reporter in a broadcast an hour earlier.
Alluding to Fox, Trump wrote: “Nancy Pelosi just stated that ‘it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.’ @FoxNews In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on letting the voters decide. Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system. Wow, she’s CRAZY!”
Nancy Pelosi just stated that “it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.” @FoxNews In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on letting the voters decide. Like Al Green, she wants to change our voting system. Wow, she’s CRAZY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2019
Trump was referring to Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), one of the first Democrats to push for impeachment.
White House spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday morning about Trump’s attribution or how impeachment could change the voting system. But media watchdogs such as CNN’s Brian Stelter and other political reporters pointed out the president’s apparent misquote.
Rather than from Pelosi, Trump appeared to be taking his quote from Fox News chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel. Just after 11 p.m. Monday, Emanuel said, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi circulated a memo to Democrats tonight telling them it would be dangerous to let voters decide President Trump’s fate when it comes to the Ukraine investigation."
“Letting voters decide” has emerged as one of the loudest arguments against impeachment as public hearings take center stage on the cusp of an election year. Democrats are investigating whether Trump abused his power in allegedly pressuring the Ukrainian president to pursue investigations of Trump’s political rivals at the expense of national security.
Republicans, however, have argued that voters should be the ones to decide at the polls whether Trump did anything wrong. “To my colleagues on the other side, I say this: Give the people back their power,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said just before the House voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry last month. “Let them choose the next leader of the free world.” In fact, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), one of only two Democrats to vote against launching the impeachment inquiry, said “let the people choose” was his rationale for his nay vote.
But Pelosi has fired back at this position by arguing that lawmakers are fulfilling their constitutional duty to launch an impeachment inquiry when evidence of a possible impeachable offense has come to light.
During an Oct. 17 news conference, a reporter asked Pelosi “how important is it for impeachment to bleed over into an election year?”
Pelosi responded that “impeachment is about the truth and the Constitution,” whereas elections should deal instead with policy issues like gun control and climate change. “That has nothing to do with what is happening in terms of our honoring our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and the facts that might support,” Pelosi said.
Pressing Pelosi, the reporter asked: “At what point might you say, let’s just let the voters decide?”
“No, no. The voters are not going to decide whether we honor our oath of office,” Pelosi said. “They already decided that in the last election.”
Some Democrats previously opposed the impeachment inquiry in favor of allowing voters to determine Trump’s fate at the ballot box — but changed their minds as more evidence of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine emerged. Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), for example, said she changed her mind after the whistleblower complaint and other documents were released. Outside of Congress, Joe Lockhart, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, offered a similar explanation for his change of heart.
In a New York Times op-ed published just after the whistleblower complaint’s release in September, Lockhart said he feared Trump’s solicitation of Ukraine’s help in investigating former vice president Joe Biden has jeopardized the election.
“I believed then and I believe now that the most appropriate place to litigate the malfeasance and incompetence of this administration is at the ballot box in 2020. But that simply cannot happen if the president is allowed to use the awesome power of American military and economic aid to solicit foreign interference in the election,” Lockhart wrote in the Sept. 26 opinion article. “We can’t allow the president to pervert the next election with foreign interference, especially after what happened in 2016.”
Public hearings resume Tuesday with testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the lead Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a Russia adviser for Vice President Pence who listened in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Later in the afternoon, Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison — a former National Security Council aide who also heard the July 25 phone call but previously said he does not believe Trump acted inappropriately — are also expected to testify.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Pelosi invited Trump to testify either in writing or before the House Intelligence Committee to “speak all the truth that he wants.” On Monday morning, Trump said on Twitter that he would “strongly consider” the offer.
“Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION … that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt,” he wrote. “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”