U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she does not hate President Donald Trump, but called him a coward and cruel on certain policies and asserted "don't mess with me" during a testy news conference as she moved ahead with an impeachment process that could remove him from office.
At the close of the news conference, an indignant Pelosi, the top Democrat in the U.S. Congress, took strong exception to a reporter's question as to whether she hated Trump, a Republican. The reporter explained he was asking because some Republicans have said a dislike of Trump is driving impeachment.
"I don't hate anybody," Pelosi said. "I was raised in a Catholic house. We don't hate anybody. Not anybody in the world. So don't you accuse me," she said, pointing at the reporter.
Earlier on Thursday, Pelosi said she directed the House Judiciary Committee to draft articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, a historic step that sets up a fight over whether to oust him from office.
Responding to the question about hating Trump, Pelosi criticized the president on policy, calling him a "coward" on failing to take steps against gun violence, "cruel" for seeking to remove protections for "Dreamers" immigrants and "in denial" about climate change. But Pelosi said those were issues to be settled in an election, while the impeachment inquiry was aimed at preventing abuses of presidential power as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
"This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that led to the president's violation of his oath of office," she said, tapping the podium for emphasis. She also said that she continued to pray for the president.
"As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is ... a heart full of love, and always pray for the president," Pelosi added.
"So don't mess with me," she said, "when it comes to words like that."
Trump responded to Pelosi's comments with a Twitter post, saying, "Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit," adding that she hated his accomplishments under his administration.
"She hates that we will soon have 182 great new judges and sooo much more. Stock Market and employment records," Trump added.
"She says she 'prays for the President.' I don't believe her, not even close. Help the homeless in your district Nancy,"
Trump wrote, adding "USMCA?" - a reference to a pending trade agreement with the United States and Canada that Pelosi has not brought to the House floor for a vote.
Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit. She hates that we will soon have 182 great new judges and sooo much more. Stock Market and employment records. She says she “prays for the President.” I don’t believe her, not even close. Help the homeless in your district Nancy. USMCA?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2019