NotedDC — Five iconic moments from Pelosi’s time as Speaker

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who has been the first and only woman to hold the powerful post that’s third in line for the presidency, announced Thursday that she will step down from her position as leader of the House Democrats after two decades.    

“For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect, and I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility,” Pelosi said on the House floor, wearing one of her signature pantsuits. “I look forward to the unfolding story of our nation — a story of light and love, of patriotism and progress, of many becoming one, and always an unfinished mission to make the dreams of today the reality of tomorrow.”   

Republicans narrowly seized control of the House in the midterm elections, and the GOP caucus has tapped Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) to be its Speaker nominee. McCarthy, who didn’t attend Pelosi’s floor speech Thursday, still needs support of 218 House members during a vote in January to secure the post.

Pelosi served during some of the most divisive times in modern history, including during the Iraq War and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, where angry supporters of then-President Trump attempted to stop the certification of now-President Biden’s election. She was a chief foil to Trump during his presidency, earning his derision as “crazy” and “scary.”  

“I have enjoyed working with three presidents,” Pelosi said in her outgoing speech, name-checking Presidents George W. BushObama and Biden, while pointedly omitting Trump.   

Biden, who had spoken to Pelosi before the speech, released a 531-word statement calling her “the most consequential speaker of the House of Representatives in our history.”   

As the historic Speaker prepares to relinquish her gavel, NotedDC looks back at some of her most iconic moments in power:   

  • The table confrontation: Pelosi has made no secret of her disdain for Trump — though she says, as a Catholic, she doesn’t “hate” him. In a viral 2019 photo captured by an official White House photographer, Pelosi is seen in a blue suit, standing and pointing her finger at Trump as he looks on. She reportedly was in an argument with him over plans for Syria and shortly left the meeting. Trump tweeted the photo as a dig at Pelosi, while she and her allies used it as a show of her willingness to stand up to him.   
  • The rip: At the end of Trump’s third State of the Union speech in 2020, the Speaker dramatically ripped up her paper copy of his remarks. She later called it a “manifesto of mistruths,” and said the act was “the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.” 
     
  • The “shhh”: To keep things professional, Pelosi hushed her caucus when members broke out in cheers after the vote to impeach Trump over his alleged interference with Ukraine. The GOP-controlled Senate didn’t vote to convict Trump, but the House event marked a huge milestone for many Democrats. To keep things from looking too celebratory, Pelosi shot her mom-eye daggers at her members to end the celebration.   
  • The clapback: After Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech, Pelosi was the person who had people talking. She gave what appeared to be a mocking, extended-arm clap at Trump as he turned toward her, a slight smirk on her face. It’s been memed and used as a gif in numerous ways to generally express condescension.   
  • The legacy: The Affordable Care Act — the crowning achievement of Obama’s tenure — passed the House by just three votes. Pelosi is largely credited with corralling her caucus to get it across the finish line. ObamaCare has withstood many legal challenges and pledges to repeal. It’s also provided health care coverage for millions of Americans. Pelosi borrowed a special gavel with a congressional legacy of its own for the occasion. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of Congress in history who passed away in 2019, loaned Pelosi the large wooden gavel he used when he presided over the vote to pass Medicare in 1965.   

BONUS: This photo of a 17-year-old Pelosi with then-Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Pelosi says her friend told her to save the pic because he “may be president one day.”   

This is NotedDC, looking at the politics, policy and people behind the stories in Washington. We’re The Hill’s Liz Crisp and Amée LaTour.

📨 Have a tip or something you want to share? Email us at ecrisp@thehill.com and alatour@thehill.com.

House Republicans set their sights on Biden 

Gear up for several investigations into President Biden as Republicans take control of the House in the coming year. 

“We’re focused on a lot of things, but Oversight … We feel this is utmost importance,” Rep. James Comer, the Kentucky Republican who likely will be heading up the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the coming term, told reporters Thursday. “We’re going to do a lot of investigations. A lot of probing.” 

Republicans have spent years questioning the business dealings of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and what role or influence he has had on the president through the years. 

“We’re going to do a lot of investigations. A lot of probing,” Comer said. 

He denied that the new GOP majority will solely focus on Biden, but it’s worth noting that former President Trump, who was impeached twice under Democratic rule, is closely aligned with Republicans on the Oversight panel and has already publicly asked “how many” times Republicans will impeach Biden.  

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ELECTION DENIALISM AFTER THE MIDTERMS?

The legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election has been one of the most prominent issues in the Republican Party over the last two years. Candidates who expressed skepticism about or outright denied the results lost several high-profile races last Tuesday.  

A week after the midterms, former President Trump announced his 2024 bid, and former Vice President Mike Pence said he’s considering his own amid his first public comments about his experience at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

The continued prominence of election denialism within the GOP in the years to come is in question. We looked at a couple midterm results analyses and talked to GOP strategists for insights. 

According to a Washington Post analysis

  • 51 percent of the 569 Republican candidates who ran for federal and “key statewide offices … had denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election.”  
  • Around 60 percent of the election deniers won, including at least 150 who appear to have won U.S. House races.
  • In six states where Trump tried to overturn 2020 election results, deniers lost races where victories would have enabled them to “act on those false claims in future elections.” Significant losses included secretary of state races in Michigan, Arizona and Nevada and gubernatorial elections in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 
  • The Post “identified candidates as election deniers if they questioned Biden’s victory, opposed the counting of Biden’s electoral college votes, expressed support for a partisan post-election ballot review, signed onto a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 result, or attended or expressed support for the rally on the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.” 

Brookings analysis included state legislative candidates. From the report:  

  • “The recent election was very bad for the election denier movement,” the Brookings Institute said.
  • Of 341 candidates “running on a platform of election denial,” 224, or approximately 66 percent, won their races.
  • “The statewide offices, and secondarily, the state legislators, have more power to affect election administration than do members of Congress. And the prospect of election deniers in office is much more dangerous in swing states than in deeply red or deeply blue states[.]”
  • For statewide offices, “the statistics for election deniers are far worse when it comes to swing states. Almost all of the successes were in red or deep red states.”
  • The overall 224 figure “includes 133 congressional candidates, 114 of them were incumbents who always have high win rates. Some of these incumbents were MAGA-style incumbents from deep red districts who had given some sort of support to Trump’s ‘big lie’ about the election. That support ranged from voting against Biden in the 2020 electoral college vote, to a declaration that Biden was an illegitimate president, to milder statements about the need to ensure election integrity.” 

Some other takeaways: 

  • FiveThirtyEight – “Denying The 2020 Election Wasn’t A Winning Strategy For Political Newcomers”
  • Brennan Center – “Election Denial in Races for Election Administration Positions”  

GOP strategists weigh in: NotedDC asked two Republican strategists for their thoughts on whether questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election might continue to be a major theme among candidates and elected officials going forward. 

  • Rina Shah, a former senior congressional staffer, said, “The election denial theme is sadly ensconced with elements of the Republican base. What will be most interesting to see [is] how the debate manifests itself in intraparty debates, especially as we (sadly) begin the presidential campaign season well over 700 days before Election Day 2024.” Shah said election denialism was rejected this past week. She also said she considered Glenn Youngkin’s use of the phrase “election integrity” in his gubernatorial campaign to be “a way of doing election denialism-lite.” 
  • Ford O’Connell, a former Trump White House and campaign surrogate, told NotedDC, “The message to the Republican Party is loud and clear. Rather than endlessly griping about democracy-undermining measures like ballot harvesting, mail-in balloting, drop-boxes, endless early voting, and hazy vote tabulation procedures in several states (NV, AZ, PA, etc.), Republicans are better served to adapt to the new no holds barred voting terrain until they can get into a position to roll-back many of these nefarious mechanisms in an effort to ensure voter integrity and confidence in our elections.” 

Infrastructure week YEAR 

This week marked a year since President Biden signed the belabored $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package into law. The law provides money for roads, bridges and green energy initiatives, among other priorities. 

The White House released a summary of what the historic spending package has done so far, and it includes: 

  • $185 billion in funding awarded
  • More than 6,900 projects
  • 4,000 communities across 50 states
  • 2,800 bridge repair and replacement projects underway
  • 5,000 new clean transit and school buses 

Read more updates here

BRIEFLY

—A look at the dispute between failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and Arizona election officials over Election Day machine issues and the gubernatorial election results 

Rand Paul will serve as the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Kentucky senator said, “Given the committee’s duty to conduct oversight over the entire government, I remain hopeful that we will pursue a robust and bipartisan investigation into the origins of COVID.” 

—Several Democrats hope to address the debt ceiling with bipartisan support during the lame-duck session. Prospects are unclear.

Twelve Republicans joined 50 Democrats in the Senate in a procedural vote to advance a bill that would protect same-sex marriage. 

Throwback Thursday

ard to believe but it’s been less than a year since Samuel Bankman-Fried, the now disgraced head of crypto exchange FTX, testified optimistically about the future of cryptocurrency during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Dec. 8, 2021.

The cryptocurrency firm, which recently imploded, prompting a wave of allegations of mismanagement and at least one class action lawsuit from people who lost their money in the company’s downfall. 

“FTX is grateful to this committee for the opportunity to share information about the digital-asset ecosystem and suggest ways the benefits and promise of the industry can continue to be realized, and in a responsible way,” SBF, as he’s popularly known, told the committee in his opening remarks. 

The hearing got little attention at the time, but in light of FTX’s monumental collapse and allegations of fraud and other misdeeds, it’s worth another watch. 

“My goal has been to find ways to have positive impact on the world and to maximize that and to do so by supporting some really fantastic organizations,” SBF tells the members of Congress. “I think the industry has the potential to approve a lot of people’s lives.”  

Watch the full hearing here. And read SBF’s written opening remarks here

Have a good idea for a throwback item that sheds light on what’s happening in today’s politics. Send it to us! Email: Elizabeth Crisp and Amée LaTour. 

THEY SAID IT

“I await the day when my husband returns to lead an America that is characterized by peace, love and security,” former first lady Melania Trump in a statement to Breitbart about former President Trump’s decision to run again in 2024. 

NUMBER TO KNOW

20% 

How much more Farm Bureau estimates families will be paying for Thanksgiving dinner this year, compared to last. 

ONE MORE THING

White House wedding weekend 

Naomi Biden, beloved granddaughter of POTUS and FLOTUS, is set to join a very exclusive list of brides this weekend when she weds her beau, Peter Neal, on the White House South Lawn on Saturday. 

Elizabeth Alexander, a spokeswoman for first lady Jill Bidenconfirmed the plans last year and the much-anticipated event is on track to happen just days after President Biden returns from an overseas trip that took him to Egypt, Cambodia and Mylasia. 

Naomi Biden, the president’s eldest granddaughter, is the daughter of Hunter Biden and his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle

D.C.’s continued chilly weather forecast for Saturday is partly cloudy with temperatures only barely reaching the mid-40s.  

Noteworthy: The big event is taking place a day before President Biden’s
80th birthday. 

Continuing the South Lawn excitement, the president will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony there on Monday.  

Have some news, juicy gossip, insight or other insider info? Send tips: Elizabeth Crisp and Amée LaTour And encourage friends to sign up here: thehill.com/noted. See you next week!

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