Nancy Pelosi lashed out at a reporter who asked if she hated Donald Trump following her historic announcement instructing the House of Representatives to move forward with drafting articles of impeachment against the president.
"I don't hate anybody", the US House Speaker said on Thursday as she was exiting her weekly Capitol Hill press conference. "As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me."
She added: "I don't hate anyone ... So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that."
The moment was captured by reporters attending the House speaker’s weekly conference and quickly garnered national media attention. Mr Trump himself responded in a tweet shortly after, saying Ms Pelosi “just had a nervous fit” and adding he did not believe her claims that she “prays for the president”.
Ms Pelosi’s press conference followed the announcement she made earlier in the day in which she called on the House “to proceed with articles of impeachment”.
The House speaker has repeatedly described the impeachment inquiry as a dark and “prayerful” moment in American history, and has encouraged her Democratic colleagues to remain even-keeled throughout the process.
Ms Pelosi suggested the reporter who posed the question, Sinclair journalist James Rosen, was accusing her of hating Mr Trump.
Mr Rosen said he asked the question because Republican Doug Collins suggested during a public impeachment hearing on Wednesday that Democrats were “doing this because they don’t like the guy”, referring to the president.
“This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office,” Ms Pelosi responded. “I don’t hat anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart of full of love, and I’ve always prayed for the president — and I still pray for the president.”
Ms Pelosi was initially hesitant to go down the path of impeachment against Mr Trump, suggesting the process could prove divisive to the country and that the 2020 election would provide a more effective vehicle in ousting the incumbent president from office.
But she eventually signed onto the inquiry as explosive reports indicated the White House had withheld crucial military aid to Ukraine while demanding political investigations into one of Mr Trump’s 2020 rivals, Joe Biden.
The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)December 5, 2019
By instructing the House to draft articles of impeachment, Ms Pelosi had signalled she was ready to approve charges against the president. The House would then conduct a formal vote on whether to impeach Mr Trump.
If the vote passes in the House of Representatives, which is expected, it would then move to the Republican-led Senate, which would hold a formal trial.
Mr Trump called for Democrats to impeach him “fast” in an earlier tweet on Thursday morning while claiming that the Bidens and others would be called to testify in a “fair” Senate trial.
He wrote: "Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business."