Rep. Nancy Pelosi is set to regain the House speakership Thursday and instantly cement her place as the most powerful woman in American politics.
It is a job she has done before, even during a Republican presidency, but Pelosi faces a novel challenge in her new role as President Trump’s chief adversary — how to balance her esteem for the presidency against her barely veiled contempt for the man who holds it.
“I respect the office that he holds and the agencies of government that he appoints to — I think I respect them more than he does, looking at who he has appointed to those offices,” she told The Washington Post in an interview as she prepared to take the speaker’s gavel.
Navigating that dilemma has affected the limited talks to end the partial government shutdown, now in its second week, over the president’s demand for money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and it is certain to define Pelosi’s dealings with Trump in the new era of divided government.
It is an unpredictable chapter in the historic career of the 78-year-old Pelosi, the nation’s first female speaker, as she retakes the gavel after eight years.