House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is often vilified in right-wing media for coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump — and right-wing media personalities often mock her for describing the inquiry as a “solemn” moment in U.S. history. But presidential historian Jon Meacham defended the House speaker during a Wednesday night appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” stressing that she has legitimate concerns about Trump conducting him himself like a “monarch.”
Meacham told long-time “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, “I don’t want to just talk about the speaker’s decision in raw political terms…. This is a solemn moment. It is difficult. We do this once every 60 years in this country: Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton — with varying degrees of seriousness, varying degrees of political divisiveness. But it’s a very important moment. And it was the ultimate check put on the executive.”
With his “60 years” comment, Meacham didn’t mean that literally 60 years passed between the United States’ three most recent impeachment inquiries against presidents: Nixon in 1974, Clinton in 1998, Trump in 2019 — he meant that there have only been four over a period of 242 years.
During former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Pelosi was the Democratic Party’s most prominent impeachment skeptic — and she resisted impeachment even after the Mueller Report was made public. But with the Ukraine scandal, Pelosi has asserted, Trump crossed the line in a way that made an impeachment inquiry necessary.
Meacham told Matthews, “I think the speaker has done a wonderful job, not simply tactically, but strategically, in defense of the Constitution. Because I think that one day, Republicans — if they ever choose to have a reckoning about this — will have to figure out: how did they become the monarchical party? How did they become monarchists? Because that’s what they’re basically arguing: that the president is acting in a kingly fashion, and that’s OK. And you know what? We’ve been fighting over this for 242 years.”