Pelosi explains why she called Kavanaugh 'hysterical'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who described Judge Brett Kavanaugh's testimony last week as "hysterical...

Posted: Oct 3, 2018 3:08 AM
Updated: Oct 3, 2018 3:08 AM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who described Judge Brett Kavanaugh's testimony last week as "hysterical," explained Tuesday she decided to use that word because of its connection to women.

Pelosi, in a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Dana Bash for The Atlantic's "Women of Washington" series, also made clear her inclination against impeaching Kavanaugh if Democrats take the House majority, saying she already has "enough people on my back" to impeach President Donald Trump.

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Pelosi noted that if a woman were to behave the way Kavanaugh did before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, she would be treated differently.

"Hysterical; the word stems from the same word as hysterectomy," Pelosi said. "You know it's a word that is identified with women being very emotional and the rest, so I chose that word very specifically."

The two words originate from the Greek word hystera, which means uterus or womb.

"To me it was behavior that was not suitable for a person who would be a judge on any court much less the Supreme Court of the United States," Pelosi said.

While testifying last week, Kavanaugh fiercely denied sexual assault allegations that have emerged during his confirmation battle to be a Supreme Court justice. Kavanaugh's impassioned plea, in which he nearly shouted at times and held back tears, drew widespread attention. At an event in Austin, Texas, over the weekend, Pelosi said "I couldn't help but think that if a woman had ever performed that way, they would say 'hysterical.'"

On Tuesday, Pelosi argued that Kavanaugh's attacks against Democrats during his testimony revealed a political bias and that "he should recuse himself from many cases that will come before the court."

"Whether it's the Supreme Court or the court he's on now," she added, referring to his position as federal judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The FBI, at the request of a few swing-vote senators investigating some of the allegations against Kavanaugh, with a one-week deadline. Democrats have steadfastly opposed his nomination, with many vowing to vote "no" not only on the basis of his judicial views, but also now over questions about his past.

Calls for impeachment

Pelosi's interview comes exactly five weeks before the midterm elections, in which Democrats have a real chance at taking back the House. Democratic leaders are now discussing how their party could best use oversight power next year should they win back the majority.

Asked if Democrats should impeach Kavanaugh, Pelosi said they should take it one day at a time but "that would not be my plan."

"I have enough people on my back to impeach the President," she said, pausing for laughter by the audience. "It's about unifying. Let's hope that, again, with the information that comes forward and with the demonstration of temperament that is not judicial, that the Senate will do the right thing."

Pelosi has repeatedly tamped down talk about impeaching Trump, saying the caucus should focus on other agenda items -- such as drug prices, infrastructure and health care -- while the FBI finishes its investigation. She made the same case Tuesday on the question of impeaching Kavanaugh.

"All of those (issues) are more important to people than who's on the Supreme Court," she said.

Pelosi criticizes Trump foreign policy

Pelosi, in the interview, also questioned the President's "taste" after he described his evolving relationship with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, with Trump saying Saturday at a rally that the two men "fell in love" during their recent communications. While Pelosi approved of the President's strategy to hold talks with Kim, she was perplexed by his recent comments.

"The President has a tendency -- people kind of love people sort of like themselves, you know what I'm saying?" she said to audience laughter. "By no means is he the villain that Kim Jong Un is, but Kim Jong Un, he has killed his own family members. He's a repressive tyrant and (Trump) fell in love with him. You have to question his taste."

On the new trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico, Pelosi said she expects a vote in Congress in February or March, but wants to review the agreement first.

"The President has a way of saying no NAFTA and then putting forth something that's very much like NAFTA and so how different is it? Any trade agreement has to increase the paycheck of America's workers, protect our environment, create growth in our country without diminishing people in other countries as well," she said. "So we'll have to see."

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