House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew criticism Wednesday for handing out commemorative pens -- with her name on them -- after signing a resolution to transmit two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate for trial.
To critics, the tone of the event seemed celebratory -- a far cry from December, when Pelosi wore black and insisted on the House floor it was a “solemn” day before the Democrat-controlled body voted to impeach the president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress allegations. Later, she even cut short two rounds of cheers from Democrats when the articles were adopted.
“Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens served up on silver platters to sign the sham articles of impeachment,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted in response. “She was so somber as she gave them away to people like prizes.”
“You know what you hand out pens for? Accomplishments. Like, say, signing a historic trade deal with China,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington added, referencing Trump — who on the same day as Pelosi's impeachment signing entered a landmark trade agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the East Room of the White House.
Trump maintains the House impeachment effort -- based on accusations that he pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, in exchange for U.S. military aid -- is a “hoax” and claims he is a victim of a political “witch hunt” led by Pelosi. He is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
“So it's fitting that Democrats are handing out pens for their sole accomplishment: impeachment. Democrats have done NOTHING for the American people,” Harrington added.
Before the signing Wednesday, aides set out two small trays containing more than two dozen black pens emblazoned with Pelosi's signature. She entered the room and sat at a table with the documents and pens before her. House prosecutors and the committee chairmen who had worked on Trump's impeachment were standing around her. Pelosi picked up each pen, signed a bit, and handed each one to a lawmaker. Sometimes, she was smiling.
“Embarrassing spectacle - Pelosi using sterling silver platters and handing out ceremonial pens to everyone in sight, made it ridiculously theatrical and so tacky and clownish. What goofballs,” Mark Simone, a conservative radio host, tweeted.
“Impeachment is so “Prayerful” that Pelosi was handing out pens in celebration. Pathetic,” Benny Johnson, chief creative officer for Turning Point USA, added.
At a Dec. 5 news conference, Pelosi had shot back at a reporter who accused her of hating Trump, saying that she, as a woman raised in a Catholic home, actually prays for the president.
“This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic I resent your using the word 'hate' in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is full, a heart full of love, and always pray for the president. And 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,” Pelosi exclaimed.
In a letter sent to Pelosi the day before the Dec. 18 impeachment vote, Trump questioned whether she was sincere about her faith and alleged she was waging a war on American democracy in her decision to launch the House-led impeachment inquiry back in September.
“Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense,” Trump countered.
Pelosi’s signature Wednesday sent the articles to the Senate for trial, which technically is expected to start Thursday but moves into full swing next week.
After the House vote, Pelosi withheld the articles for about four weeks from the Senate in an effort to pressure Senate Republicans to commit to seeing additional documents and testimony as part of trial proceedings. That promise never came, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday he was considering allowing both sides – Democrats and Republicans – to call additional witnesses.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.