Thursday Reads: Checks and Balances Are Coming!

Good Afternoon!!

Here she comes again! Today Nancy Pelosi will take the Speaker’s gavel from Paul Ryan, and Trump will begin to realize that he can no longer treat Congress as his doormat. Pelosi isn’t going to cringe in fear of Trump’s tantrums like Ryan did. She knows exactly what she’s doing and Trump’s tweets and rants will roll off her back as she works toward the restoration of our democracy. Trump won’t know what hit him.

I remember very clearly the day when Pelosi announced that “impeachment is off the table” back in 2006 when George W. Bush was president. I was furious. But she’s not saying that today.

The Today Show: Nancy Pelosi says she won’t rule out indictment, impeachment for Trump.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t rule out President Trump being indicted while in office, describing the topic as “an open discussion.”

During an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, the House Democratic leader said it’s possible that special counsel Robert Mueller could seek an indictment against the sitting president, despite Justice Department guidelines against such action….

Nancy Pelosi with JFK

“I think that that is an open discussion. I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law,” she said, on the eve of reclaiming her former title as speaker of the House. Pelosi will become the first lawmaker in recent history to hold that office twice when the 116th Congress convenes Thursday….

Although Democrats have discussed the idea of impeaching the president, Pelosi said it would not benefit the country to pursue one. But she wouldn’t rule the idea out either.

“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes,” she said.

She said Trump isn’t getting his ridiculous border wall either.

“No, no. Nothing for the wall. We’re talking about border security,” she said. “There is no amount of persuasion he can do to say to us, ‘We want you to do something that is not effective, that costs billions of dollars.’ That sends the wrong message about who we are as a country.”

“This is the Trump shutdown, through and through. That’s why he has proudly taken, in his view, proudly taken ownership of it. There’s no escaping that for him,” Pelosi said. “That doesn’t mean we take any joy in the fact that there is a Trump shutdown. We want government to open.”

Pelosi remains the first woman ever to be Speaker of the House. From Politico’s somewhat patronizing piece on Pelosi: The survivor: Nancy Pelosi makes history — again.

The past seven speakers of the House have lost their majority, been forced out by their own colleagues, or stepped down amid personal scandal. One of them — Nancy Pelosi — now has a second chance to rewrite her legacy.

The past seven speakers of the House have lost their majority, been forced out by their own colleagues, or stepped down amid personal scandal. One of them — Nancy Pelosi — now has a second chance to rewrite her legacy.

On Thursday, the 78-year-old Pelosi will be the first person in more than six decades, since the legendary Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, to return to the speaker’s chair after losing it. She will be surrounded by children as she does so, a replay of an iconic moment from her January 2007 swearing-in ceremony as the first female speaker in history.

Pelosi with George W. Bush

But Pelosi will also tie Rayburn on another front by becoming the oldest person ever elected speaker and the oldest to hold the post, a testament to both her staying power and the fact that her return engagement to the speakership will be limited.

Unlike her original go-round as speaker from 2007 to 2011, when the California Democrat was at her most powerful, Pelosi will face a whole new set of challenges during the 116th Congress — a fractious caucus full of upstart progressives who want to move an ambitious agenda; the unpredictable President Donald Trump, who has greeted Pelosi’s return to power with an ongoing government shutdown; a determined, experienced foe in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who runs his own chamber with a tight grip; and self-imposed term limits on her speakership of four years.

All that, however, shouldn’t diminish the scale of what Pelosi has done. She survived a challenge to her leadership after a 63-seat wipeout in the 2010 tea party wave. She faced more Democratic complaints in 2014 and 2016 — the latter heightened by the Democratic despair over Trump’s victory. Throughout this latest election cycle, moderate Democratic incumbents and candidates warned they wouldn’t vote for Pelosi for speaker and a band of rebels sought to derail her return to the speaker’s chair.

In the end, Pelosi overcame it all.

“I’m telling you what I know and what I have seen. … Nancy Pelosi is in charge of the Democratic Caucus, and to believe otherwise is perilous for an opponent,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who has occasionally differed with Pelosi.

“She understands legislation down to the minute details and can flip you back and forth in a negotiation session based on her knowledge, skill and experience,” Cleaver noted. “And I’m kind of an independent person, so I’m not necessarily in her camp.”

Elle also gave an interview to Elle yesterday: Nancy Pelosi on Her New Role, Trump’s Manhood, and That Red Max Mara Coat.

Born in Baltimore with five older brothers and a father who served as mayor, Pelosi became the first woman to ever lead a political party when she was elected Democratic Leader of the House in 2002. In 2007, she made history again as the first female Speaker of the House. Famous for being a fundraising juggernaut—she pulled in over a hundred million dollars for the Democratic party last year—Pelosi has also proven herself to be a formidable politician, having been on the national stage longer than some of the incoming Congress members have been alive.

When Pelosi is sworn in, 106 women of all races, sexual orientations, and walks of life will join her in Congress. Many of them have voiced their concerns that a 78-year-old, wealthy white woman who currently lives in San Francisco may not be the best representative for all Americans. Just days before her holiday break with family (she has five grown children) and the partial government shutdown, Pelosi spoke with ELLE about the shifting face of the party, the prospect of impeaching President Trump, and the fiery coat that spawned a thousand memes.

Nancy Pelosi during her first run for the House in Maryland

ELLE: Diving right in here, you’ve been cast as a villain. There are Democrats who won their elections by saying they wouldn’t vote for you. Republicans have spent enormous sums to vilify you. What does it feel like to be hated in that way?

Nancy Pelosi: I don’t necessarily feel hated. I feel respected. They wouldn’t come after me if I were not effective. I consider myself a master legislator. Republicans fear me for that, but also because I am a successful fundraiser, enabling our candidates to have the resources they need to win. So from a political standpoint they have to take me down, and from an official standpoint they have to take me down. But I’m spending more time talking about it right now than I ever have thinking about it.

ELLE: Before her passing, California congresswoman Sala Burton anointed you as her successor. Because of Burton’s support, one of your biographers wrote that you are “Exhibit A for the case that the only way for women to reach the top echelon in politics is through the committed assistance of other women.” Do you agree with that?

NP: Absolutely. I say to women all the time, “This is not a zero-sum game. One woman’s success is not subtracting from anybody else’s opportunity. It’s the reverse. Every woman’s success helps other women.” Imagine, Sala Burton, a member of Congress, deciding she was going to encourage me to run? That was remarkable. Usually it’s men to men. Because of her encouragement, I ran, and I won. Women helping women—people are now seeing the magnified impact of that, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

Read the rest at Elle.

Alexandra Pelosi with her mother Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi’s daughter spoke about her mother on CNN this morning. The Washington Post: Nancy Pelosi will ‘cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding,’ daughter Alexandra Pelosi says.

“How does she approach meetings with President Trump, A, and B, just what are your feelings about this person who you know quite well becoming speaker of the House for a second time?” host John Berman asked during an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

The younger Pelosi responded: “She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding.” [….]

“No one ever won betting against Nancy Pelosi,” she continued. “She’s persevered. You’ve got to give her credit.” [….]

Alexandra Pelosi…hailed her mother as someone who “knows what she’s doing — and that should make you sleep at night, knowing that at least somebody in this town knows what they’re doing.”

Pelosi has been busy hiring staff to help her deal with Trump. Vanity Fair: “A Formidable Opponent for Anyone: Pelosi Hires Her Legal Talent to Take on Trump.

As stained coffee cups and empty takeout containers pile up on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Donald Trump points fingers at the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi has been quietly preparing to assume her role as the president’s chief antagonist. During the reprieve between Christmas and the New Year, the California lawmaker announced the appointment of Justice Department veteran Doug Letter as the new general counsel for the House of Representatives. Though Pelosi’s decision was met with little fanfare, Letter will be the linchpin in the oversight nightmare that House Democrats are preparing for Trump and his administration, circa tomorrow. “It is fanciful to think that there won’t be a substantial oversight function served by the new House. There are just so many issues that have gone without scrutiny,” Robert Loeb, a D.C. appellate lawyer, told me. It will be Letter’s job to inform Pelosi and other lawmakers “what their options are and what the risks and costs are” when it comes to leveraging Congress’s oversight authority.

Democrats have not been coy about their plans to exhume the scandals their Republican colleagues buried during the first two years of Trump’s presidency. As I previously reported, House Democrats have been treating January 3—the day Pelosi takes the gavel from Paul Ryan—like D-Day, with teams of staffers already lined up to open investigations into the president’s deputies, associates, and businesses. The anticipated lines of inquiry run the gamut—child separation at the border; Trump-Russia collusion; the F.B.I. investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; White House security clearances; emoluments; the list goes on. And regardless of the specific rabbit holes that House Democrats choose to go down, protracted federal court battles seem assured. As general counsel, Letter would be the point person in any litigation brought on behalf of Pelosi and the House.

To former colleagues, Letter seems poised for the challenge. “For the last dozen years, I’ve litigated against Doug and with him at my side in some of the most consequential appeals in our lifetimes. Every time, he has been brilliant, professional, nonpartisan, and balanced,” Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general at the Justice Department under Barack Obama, told me. “There is no one more experienced, and no one better suited to this job.” Letter has signaled as much, himself. “I am eager to apply my litigation experience as I take on the challenges and opportunities that come with the important position,” he said in a statement about his appointment.

Click on the Vanity Fair link to read the rest.

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?

59 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Checks and Balances Are Coming!”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Terry McAuliffe is one white male I wouldn’t mind voting for. And he’s only 61!

    • NW Luna says:

      I’d vote for him, and governors have more applicable experience in political management than do Congresspeople. Governing a state is a mini-version of governing all of the states.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. NW Luna says:

    One more reason why local elections matter.

  4. NW Luna says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Hakeem is a powerful speaker! I’m looking forward to hearing more from him. Couple of standing Os for Nancy there as Rep Jeffries lays out Pelosi’s accomplishments.

      Lol, look carefully at ~2:14. There’s AOC, who claps politely and just barely avoids pouting, in contrast to the black woman next to her who’s clapping joyfully. Yes, AOC, Pelosi gets shit done.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Nancy is in!

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    I’ve had an interesting few days. I’ve found out I’m an indoctrinated communist or socialist who doesn’t understand economics and a person that has no idea how the government responds to hurricanes. It’s just amazing how much of my life appears to have not really happened!

  9. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I love this! It’s something Hillary (sniff) would do too. Now a Repug Speaker, he’d bring a bunch of fetuses up to his lecturn.

  10. dakinikat says:

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  13. bostonboomer says:

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  15. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      “Personal freedom,” riiiiiight. That belongs with the “small government” that’s small enough to “drown in a bathtub,” yet somehow it’s big enough to be in your bedroom, at the doctor’s office, at the wedding-cake bakers.

  16. NW Luna says:

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  18. RonStill4Hills says:

    I am so sick of the agreed upon mass media lie that “the American People want the parties to work together.”

    Some of the American people want that but the right wing, absolutely does not want that. They want their caucus to die on every hill before compromising with Democrats. Period. Compromise is a firing offense. That is widespread on the right.

    Furthermore, Hillary’s so-called weak message, “Stronger Together”, was a direct and explicit appeal to bipartisanship.

    I expect lies from the Repugs but we should really be calling bullshit on the media every time they say that the people want congress to work.

    Bullshit, the Repugs would MUCH rather wreck the car than let anyone else drive. Hell they’d rather wreck than let anyone stop and ask directions.

    They are infants who govern by tantrum.

    We need to stop apprising them.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Appeasing…I don’t really care to apprise them of anything either.

    • quixote says:

      Well, I’m left-wing enough that you could hurt yourself on the pointiness of my head, and I sure as hell don’t want them to work together either. Obliterate the rightwing garbage laws, reverse every Dump executive order. Do NOT lie down with weasels. Do NOT get up with fleas.

      (Apologies to real weasels. Not talking about you.)

    • NW Luna says:

      I don’t want any reaching across the aisle except with subpoenas.

  19. NW Luna says:

    Blue Wave!

    New sheriffs in town as African Americans win top law enforcement posts in N.C.

    Three days after he was sworn in as Durham County’s new sheriff last month, Clarence Birkhead ended his department’s cooperative relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Within a week, Birkhead’s staff rebuffed ICE 11 times, releasing immigrants from the county jail rather than holding them for the federal agency to pick up as a first step toward deportation.

    Other new sheriffs were doing much the same. In Mecklenburg and Wake counties, North Carolina’s largest jurisdictions, they notified ICE their offices would no longer participate in the federal program that delegates immigration enforcement to local agencies.

    The collective snub was the first move in a looming upheaval in how the state’s urban sheriffs do their job. This fall, all seven of the most populous counties elected African Americans as their top law enforcement officer — not just a reflection of the shifting dynamics here but a sharp break from the nation’s historic pattern of picking white men for the position and then keeping them there in perpetuity.

  20. NW Luna says: