WASHINGTON — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the highest-ranking House Democrat, got an early, if unusual, endorsement Wednesday in her bid to reclaim her title as speaker following Tuesday’s electoral victory: a favorable tweet from President Trump.
“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats,” Trump wrote in a morning Twitter post, echoing an argument that Pelosi has been making in recent weeks, and signaling that he relishes the chance to spar with her over the next two years. “If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!”
But later at a news conference, the president warned of a “war-like posture” if Democrats use their newly won control of the House to launch investigations into his administration.
Still, he said of Pelosi: “We actually have a great relationship. I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished.” He even offered, perhaps sarcastically, to persuade Republican lawmakers to vote for her as speaker if some Democratic members refuse to support her.
Pelosi “loves this country, and she’s a very smart woman,” Trump said, adding that he had “a very warm conversation” with her on Tuesday.
Pelosi, speaking at a news conference following Trump’s, signaled that Democrats have investigation plans ready.
“We have a constitutional responsibility to have oversight,” Pelosi said. “This doesn’t mean we go looking for a fight.” She added that she hopes the administration will respond to requests for information voluntarily, but regarding a possible inquiry into the policy of separating families at the border, she said: “If that requires a subpoena, so be it.”
Democrats’ takeover of the House in January will allow them to force administration officials to testify and provide documents. That will subject Trump’s decision-making — as well as his personal finances and potential conflicts of interest — to deeper public and private examination by key committees, as the national focus shifts to the 2020 presidential election.
Asked how he would respond to an order from House Democrats to provide his tax returns, he repeated past statements he first made during the presidential campaigns that he wanted to wait until audits are completed.
For the past two years, Republicans have subjected Trump to relatively little oversight, spurning most requests from the minority party. Democrats say that will change almost immediately when the 116th Congress opens on Jan. 3. They have a long list of topics they plan to look into, including financial deregulation, Trump’s business interests, and Russia’s election interference.
Material from Bloomberg News was used in this report.