WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi was planning to deliver back-to-back eulogies at funerals here and in South Carolina during a busy weekend of late September travel when she saw an explosive headline in The Wall Street Journal: “Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine to Investigate Biden’s Son.”
For months, Pelosi had resisted calls for impeachment. It would be nearly another week before the release of a whistleblower’s complaint detailing Trump’s push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son — and days before nervous moderates told her they were ready to back an impeachment inquiry they had shunned all year.
But the news of Trump’s repeated entreaties for Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival was too much for Pelosi. The speaker’s mind was made up to embark on proceedings that could lead to the impeachment and removal of the 45th president of the United States.
Now, Pelosi has taken a substantial leap forward in an evolution that began when she assumed the speakership in January and reached a critical turning point on that Saturday in September. On Thursday, she announced she had directed her lieutenants to draft articles of impeachment against Trump.
The decision, delivered in a somber tone punctuated by unusual flashes of emotion — “Don’t mess with me,” she told a reporter who asked if she hates the president — demonstrated how thoroughly Pelosi had transformed from impeachment skeptic to impeachment warrior.
Just nine months ago, Pelosi declared flatly in an interview with The Washington Post Magazine that she was “not for impeachment” because it would be “so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.”
“He’s just not worth it,” Pelosi added with a disdainful flourish.
Congressional Republicans have repeatedly thrown that comment back at Pelosi. On Thursday they said they thought she caved to the impeachment demands of the progressive left.
“I think she has lost control,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “In March, she said it wasn’t going to be successful unless it was bipartisan, and she totally abandoned that.”
But at her weekly news conference on Thursday, Pelosi told reporters the president had given Democrats no choice: “He is the one who is dividing the country on this. We are honoring the Constitution of the United States.”