A top congressman and prominent Democrat law professor are both calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resign after her conduct during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last night.
Rep. Lee Zeldin responded to Pelosi ripping up Trump’s State of the Union address by writing: “Nancy Pelosi should step down as Speaker. I’m confident that the American public will be directly sending her that message themselves later this year if she doesn’t read the tea leaves herself and resign on her own terms today. It’s time.”
Nancy Pelosi should step down as Speaker. I'm confident that the American public will be directly sending her that message themselves later this year if she doesn't read the tea leaves herself and resign on her own terms today. It's time.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) February 6, 2020
George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley, a self-described Democrat, also joined Zeldin in calling for Pelosi to step down following her conduct, calling her a “partisan troll.”
Turley wrote about the first time that he walked onto the floor of the House of Representatives 44 years ago, saying, “The country was deeply divided, but both parties maintained the tradition of civility and decorum. I was struck how members, even in the heat of furious debates, would not attack each other by name and followed rigid principles of decorum. They understood that they were the custodians of this institution and bore a duty to strengthen and pass along those traditions to the next generation.”
Turley continued, “At that moment, she represents the House as an institution — both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she decided to become little more than a partisan troll from an elevated position. The protests of the Democratic members also reached a new low for the House. Pelosi did not gavel out the protest. She seemed to join it.”
“It was the tradition of the House that a speaker must remain in stone-faced neutrality no matter what comes off that podium. The tradition ended last night with one of the more shameful and inglorious moments of the House in its history. Rather than wait until she left the floor, she decided to demonstrate against the President as part of the State of the Union and from the Speaker’s chair. That made it a statement not of Pelosi but of the House,” Turley concluded. “For those of us who truly love the House as an institution, it was one of the lowest moments to unfold on the floor. That is why I argue in the Hill that, if Pelosi does not apologize and agree to honor the principle of neutrality and civility at the State of the Union, she should resign as speaker.”
Several minutes prior to Zeldin calling for Pelosi to resign, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for an investigation to be opened up into Pelosi and for a criminal referral to be made into potential crimes she committed with her conduct during the State of the Union.
In a letter addressed to Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gaetz requested that the Committee open an investigation “into Speaker Pelosi’s flagrant violation of decorum, as defined in clauses 1 and 2 of House Rule XXIII, and request a criminal referral for her potential violation of 18 U.S.C. §2071 (Concealment, removal, or mutilation of documents), following President Trump’s recent State of the Union address of February 4, 2020. Her unseemly behavior certainly warrants censure.”
Gaetz said that Pelosi potentially committed a crime by violating 18 U.S.C. §2071:
(a)Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b)Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Related: Lawmakers File Ethics Complaint, Resolution Condemning Pelosi For Ripping Up Speech