Nancy Pelosi isn’t wild about the question. The impeachment of President Donald Trump is under way, and I’ve asked the Speaker of the House if she thinks it’s the most important thing she’ll ever do. We’re sitting in her elegant office in the Capitol, on gold-upholstered armchairs around a low table topped with a vase of hydrangeas. Over her shoulder, the sweeping view of the National Mall is shrouded in wintry clouds. For a long moment, the Speaker goes silent as she seems to compile in her mind the list of accomplishments she’d rather claim as her legacy.
“Apart from declaring war, this is the most important thing that the Congress can do,” she finally says. “I’m most proud of the Affordable Care Act. But this is the most serious initiative that I’ve been involved in in my career.”
Pelosi has spent decades at the highest levels of politics, but the past 12 months have been arguably her most consequential. Returning to the speakership after eight years running the House Democratic minority, she established herself as counterweight and constrainer of this divisive President. She outmaneuvered Trump on policy, from the border wall he didn’t get to the budget agreement he signed loaded with goodies that Democrats wanted. She oversaw an unprecedented litigation effort against the Executive Branch, racking up landmark court victories. And she was the tactician behind the investigation that resulted in Trump’s impeachment on Dec. 18.