Nancy Pelosi on Impeachment, Trump, and 2020

She is openly dubious of the left’s top priority in 2020: the push to establish a single-payer health-care system that will replace private health insurance. It would be better for Democrats to “begin with where we have agreement,” she said. “Let’s not start with: ‘You have private insurance—forget about it.’” She wants to begin by bolstering the Affordable Care Act, adding a public competitor to private insurance and restoring provisions in the law that Trump has weakened. ”Maybe Medicare for all is a destination,” Pelosi said. “But it’s certainly not a starting point.”

Pelosi was reared in a Baltimore political family—her father was a Democratic representative from Maryland and later the city’s mayor—in an era when Democrats proudly considered themselves the party of the working class. That history was evident when she talked about the two parties’ coalitions, recoiling at the notion that education levels have become one of the central dividing lines. It worries her, she explained, when she hears that Democrats now rely on voters with more education, while Trump voters are deemed “uneducated.” “They’re not uneducated,” she said with sudden passion. “They’re educated and alive—fighting our wars, raising our families, building our country. Just because they don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean they are not educated.”

Even as Pelosi said she wants to generate the greatest possible public support for any action the House takes, she seemed sanguine about what that means in a country so persistently divided. In recent months, Pelosi had hesitated on impeachment partly out of fear it might threaten the 31 House Democrats, many of them first-termers, in districts that voted for Trump in 2016. But in the interview, she clearly signaled that she would be comfortable moving forward toward a vote without much more, if any more, public support than the investigation has already generated. “Over 50 percent [support] is very good,” she said, referring to recent polling. “And perhaps we will get [higher].”

Yet her expressed desire to create a process that minimizes division seems to reach its limit at her concern about Trump’s connections to Russia. In the interview, she repeated what she told Trump at his last meeting with congressional Democratic leaders in the White House, causing him to erupt in fury. It’s a line of argument that similarly enrages his supporters.

“In saying that he wasn’t going to send the military assistance to Ukraine, who benefits from that? The Russians. Then … he did what he did in Syria—who benefits from that? Putin. What he said earlier about NATO—who benefits from that? Putin,” she said. “That’s what I was saying the other day [in the meeting]: ‘All roads lead to Putin.’” She added, ominously if vaguely: “There is something wrong here about this Putin thing—there’s something wrong.”

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