Surprising as it now sounds, Donald Trump once complained that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to push impeachment of the last Republican president, George W. Bush.
This was in October 2008, when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer softly questioned Trump at his New York headquarters about the economy and the approaching national elections. Pelosi was then in her first tenure atop a House majority.
“Well, you know, when she first got in and was named speaker, I met her,” Trump said. “And I’m very impressed by her … I like her a lot. But I was surprised that she didn’t do more in terms of Bush and going after Bush.”
He explained that he meant impeachment — for the Iraq War.
Impeaching Bush “would have been a wonderful thing,” Trump said. “He got us into the war with lies. And I mean, look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant. And they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.”
Words, positions, praise and blame have long been perishable goods tossed out blithely by the future 45th president.
“Saddam Hussein killed terrorists,” Trump said — something he controversially repeated eight years later as he ran for the White House. “He had very few terrorists, and he killed terrorists. So, we go and attack Saddam Hussein.”
The exchange took place during the network’s preliminary coverage for the Hofstra University debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.
On CNN, Trump called McCain “a good man, I know him very well. He’s a very smart guy. He’s a tough guy. I think he’d be a great president.”
So, to update Trump’s stances from just 11 years ago:
Pelosi, whom he used to “like a lot,” now draws his taunts as a “nasty” and “horrible” person.
Clinton’s transgressions may have been “unimportant”— but not so much that his sexual-misconduct accusers wouldn’t be trotted out by Trump at a debate with Hillary Clinton.
Trump in recent years made a point of publicly deriding McCain, who died last August.
And while Trump then found it justified to impeach a GOP president for lying, the White House now blasts those who wish to do it now as evil plotters of a coup.
There had been sputtering attempts to impeach Bush in his second term.
In January 2006, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) suggested, at a meeting Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) convened on the topic, that perhaps Bush should be impeached for deciding to authorize domestic surveillance without court review.
But on May 10 of that year, Pelosi went public against that move.
Her spokesman confirmed that she told a Democratic caucus “that impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it.” After the November election that turned over the House and made her speaker, she again declared impeachment a no-go.
Echoes of that period are audible.
Last week, several news organizations reported that Nadler, now Judiciary Committee chairman, has privately urged Pelosi, who returned to the speakership this year, to open a formal impeachment inquiry. But she and other caucus leaders insisted it would backfire on Democrats without GOP support.