WASHINGTON – Spokesman Nancy Pelosi and President Trump discussed gun violence on the phone Tuesday morning when the president abruptly changed the subject of a complaint by the intelligence community whistleblowing Democrats to speak of impeachment.
“Mr. President, ”she said, according to a person familiar with the conversation,“ you came in my wheelbarrow. ”
The note was a reference to Ms. Pelosi's fourth-century intelligence experience in Congress, an aspect of her biography that played a central role role in her decision Tuesday to launch a formal impeachment investigation against Mr Trump.
For Ms. Pelosi, the implications of the intelligence and national security of the recent allegations against Mr. Trump helped turn the tide.
Long before she was a speaker, Ms. Pelosi served as Chief Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, overseeing the secretive functioning of the US National Security Service and helping to draft a law governing how intelligence officers file complaints with whistles, and how that information is shared with Congress.
She sees the latest allegations against Mr Trump – that he is pressuring the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, to investigate a leading political rival, and then working to bury the intelligence complaint, which details the effort – as a huge perversion of process.
same. Pelosi has always been a confusing figure for Mr. Trump, as a powerful woman who is not afraid to face him and one of the few people in Washington he considers equal. Her televised overthrow of the president during her ouster last year – "Please don't characterize the power I carry," she told Mr. Trump after he tried to beat her during a meeting in the Oval Office – made the connection their instant source of fascination in Washington, even before she officially became a speaker.
Now, at a deeply dividing moment in American politics, the speaker is again facing the president, relying on something Mr Trump does not have: an intimate knowledge of the intelligence community, gained from 10 years on the staff and 15 more as a career officer reason, reflecting her position in management.
She comes to this with a perception, telling her colleagues that she is uniquely positioned to confront the president on intelligence and national security.
"Some of you know, some of you don't know," Ms Pelosi said of her 25 years in the intelligence panel, during a House Democrats meeting on Tuesday night before announcing her decision to impeachment, according to a Democrat aide who was in the House. "No one has ever served in leadership who had experience and exposure to intelligence."
Tuesday night's impeachment announcement seems to surprise Mr. Trump; during the morning phone call he told Mrs. Pelosi that he would not
In New York on Wednesday for the United Nations General Assembly, he declared that, as far as he was concerned, the report of the whistleblower was proposed to be released, and he expected it to face a constitutional confrontation. Mrs. Pelosi "is no longer a speaker of the House" and added: "Look, she lost her way.
On the Capitol Hill, Republican House leaders accused Mrs. Pelosi of abusing her power and undermining the impeachment process.
"Representative Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican and a minority leader, called it a" dark day for the rule of law "and a" dark day for national security. "
For months, as the Left insists on an impeachment procedure, Ms. Pelosi pushed back, urging caution. She was guided by a deep conviction that the process would be bitterly divided for the country and not only fail to remove Mr. Trump, but also potentially strengthen him politically, as it harms moderate Democrats in the surrounding Republican constituencies and, in addition, the party's chances of retaining a majority in the House.
But the president's acknowledgment that he called for the leader of Ukraine to investigate two former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his administration's refusal to give Congress a whistleblowing complaint, put her over the edge.
In 1998, she helped write the law, protecting the intelligence community's scouts – the same law that Democrats claim Mr Trump is floating about.
"She takes very, very seriously the fact that we have a clear statute that she was involved in drafting or getting a decision, which says you have to give up poster for reporting for reporting violations, "said Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey. – It's as clear as day. What I hear is that this is a big factor in the decision she made. “
Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, joined the intelligence group in 1993, just six years after winning a special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of her predecessor, Sala Burton. As an ambitious woman wishing to rise in the ranks, she felt she had to acquire foreign policy powers. She sees the Intelligence Committee as a path to leadership.
"She would often talk about trying to climb the leadership and glass ceiling women have – especially in foreign policy and national security, as if those areas were the exclusive power of men," says Steve Israel, a former congressman from New York, who serves on the Chamber's leadership of Ms. Pelosi.
but played a leading role on the Intelligence Committee, "said Mr Israel.
She spent 10 years in the band, eventually rising to the rank of member of the rankings. After becoming a Democratic leader in 2003, she left the committee but continued in her official capacity. This makes her a member of the so-called. Gang of Eight – two-party House and Senate leaders and their intelligence committees. The gang had frequent meetings with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, less with Mr. Trump.
Stacey Kerr, a former senior adviser to Ms. Pelosi, said the exposure may have shaped the speaker's approach to the current incumbent. "I think she may have learned the art of judging that your strength is what you know," Ms. Kerr said. "It is not always your power to express what you know."
Ms. Pelosi's tenure in the panel unfolded in a very different era when the Intelligence Committee was known for working bilaterally. It ranked Democrat in 2001, during the September 11 attacks, and played an important role in setting up a joint Senate House committee to investigate the intelligence failures that led to them.
In 2003, when Mr. Bush sought permission to wage war on Iraq, Ms. Pelosi voted against, saying repeatedly that she did not believe that intelligence supported Mr. Bush's claim that Iraq had weapons for mass destruction. She turned out to be right – a story she tells in her 2008 autobiography, "Know Your Power."
"As a senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee during the vote in Iraq, I told the press when I voted. "No" to the war that intelligence did not support the immediate threat that the administration claimed, "wrote Ms. Pelosi. "And the press asked, 'Do you call the president a liar?'
But Ms. Pelosi also criticized her for not objecting to the Bush administration's secret wiretap program since 9/11, which she was informed as a Democrat leader . At the time, she said she expressed her concerns about the program to the Bush administration in a letter but could not make the letter public because it was classified.
The processing of classified information was at the heart of the Congressional debate on the Whistleblowing Act of 1998, which was played against the backdrop of accusations that members of Congress were releasing classified material.
The Chairman of the Intelligence Council at the time was Porter Goss, a Florida Republican who later became C.I.A. to Mr. Bush. director, convened two hearings to create a system that would allow intelligence officers to file complaints with Congress in a professional manner, without fear of being accused of disclosing classified information.
At one of these hearings, in June 1998, Ms. Pelosi expressed her concern that "a person with a conscience with information" would be "punished and the security clearance would be removed as he disclosed classified information to an article" of the Intelligence Committee. The proposed legislation was passed and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. On Tuesday evening, she boasted about it.
"I know what the intent of the law is," she said, according to the assistant. "And what was the intention of the law, in such cases, to protect our intelligence and protect our whistles."