In an interview on the first new 2020 episode of “Real Time,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bill Maher that part of being effective in politics means being willing to metaphorically “take a punch” and “throw a punch — for the children.”
The amusing line came near the end of a wide-ranging conversation with Maher about the current state of America, the constitutional urgency of the Donald Trump impeachment and what she’d like to tell Trump himself about the whole thing.
After coming out to a standing ovation, Pelosi and Maher bantered for a bit, before she explained her thoughts on how the House of Representatives has approached impeachment, for instance going forward with only two articles. “The fact is that we knew we had a solid case for the impeachment,” Pelosi said. “The facts were clear, the constitution required it and we wanted to make our case and go forward.”
Pelosi said she knew that “there were plenty of other, shall we say ‘information’ to come forward,” but she believed it wasn’t necessary to wait for that additional information to proceed. “It would have been further incriminating but not necessary,” she said. “And it wouldn’t in any way weaken the case.”
Maher noted that Pelosi, for most of 2019, seemed “rather reluctant to do it,” to which Pelosi said that Trump “gave us no choice” and joked that he “was self-impeaching almost every single day.”
Maher joked at one point that Trump might be watching their conversation since some of Trump’s weird, rambling political rally speeches have name-checked the comedian. He then asked Pelosi what she’d like to tell Trump if he was in fact watching.
“If I knew the president is listening, I’d want him to know that he is impeached forever, and he is impeached forever because he used the office of the president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit,” she replied. “And in doing so, he undermined our national security. He was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution, and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our elections.”
Three times, Maher attempted to engage Pelosi in a discussion of factional and ideological disagreements within the Democratic Party, but each time the speaker demurred.
First, early on Maher said, “It was only a year ago that you were fighting just to be the Speaker of the House. We could be having Speaker Seth Moulton right now.”
But Pelosi shut the line of questioning down. “I wasn’t fighting, I thought the press made more of it, but let them have their fun.”
Later, during a discussion of the attack ads Republicans have fielded against Pelosi, Maher told her, “What I found disturbing is that very often Democrats did not defend you.” But once again, Pelosi evaded the matter deftly, cutting Maher off and telling him, “Oh, no, don’t worry about that. But here’s what I do worry about: Our country, in its greatness, can absorb one term of the present occupant of the White House.”
“What we have to do,” she continued, “is to elect a new president of the United States.”
Maher tried one more time near the end of their discussion when he told Pelosi, “I feel like the Democratic Party is very often the victim of their own purity tests.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that in terms of ‘they,'” Pelosi said. “Because I’m in the arena, you go in there, and you have to be ready to take a punch, and you have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children.”