House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took heavy criticism across the political spectrum after signing the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, for using the ceremony to hand out pens to fellow Democrats as mementos of the occasion.
What are the details?
The signing ceremony was covered live by CNN, and social media quickly lit up with pundits slamming the optics of Pelosi smiling while divvying out the pens to impeachment managers and others while appearing to celebrate after months of referring to impeachment as a “sad” and “somber” effort on the part of Democrats.
Self-proclaimed never-Trumper Tom Nichols tweeted that “Pelosi has handled the optics of impeachment well, right until that signing ceremony, which was awkward. Handing out pens should have been done in private. This was not some celebratory moment.”
GOP National Spokesperson Elizabeth Harrington posted a video of Pelosi’s pen distribution, saying, “You know what you hand out pens for? Accomplishments.” After noting President Trump’s signing of a trade deal with China, Harrington added, “So it’s fitting that Democrats are handing out pens for their sole accomplishment: impeachment.”
House Republicans also weighed in, with Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) tweeting, “They claim it’s a somber, serious occasion they’re heartbroken over…and then they pass out impeachment-signing pens with special cases. Folks. You can’t make it up.”
“Just walked through aftermath of this ‘signing ceremony,'” Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) wrote. “Dems were giddy with excitement in Capitol hallway, asking, ‘Did you get your pen?’ The American people will hold House Dems accountable for making a mockery of their duty to the Constitution.”
Even left-leaning CNN’s pundits commented that handing out the pens was a bad look.
Mediaite reported that CNN’s Dana Bash said after the ceremony, “We are used to seeing signing ceremonies, handing out pens at moments of celebration, when a president is signing legislation, when even sometimes…when the House sends over a piece of legislation. It was unusual to see that kind of ceremony and handing out the pens and smiling for a picture in this kind of situation where the House Speaker has bent over backwards to say publicly and privately this is somber, this is not a time for celebration.”
CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson agreed, saying, “You heard Nancy Pelosi say that this is a sad and tragic day, and then there she is holding up the pen and having photographs taken with those pens, so it is a little off-message for somebody who has tried to set a very serious tone and there she is posing for the photographs with the pen.”