Pelosi: GOP ‘sanctimonious’ to blame left for inciting violence

Pelosi: GOP ‘sanctimonious’ to blame left for inciting violence
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appears to have little patience with the Republicans blaming liberal rhetoric for Wednesday’s shooting targeting the GOP congressional baseball team.

The Democratic leader said the accusations are “outrageous” and suggested that any inciteful message from the left pales in comparison to the combative language coming from President Trump.

“The comments made by my Republican colleagues are outrageous, beneath the dignity of the job that they hold, beneath the dignity of the respect that we would like Congress to command,” Pelosi said Thursday during her weekly press conference in the Capitol. 

“How dare they say such a thing?”

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Pelosi, now in her 16th term in Congress, said she longs for a time when the parties could disagree on policy without the debate devolving into personal attacks. She blamed Republicans for shift in tone, which she traced back to the Clinton administration.

“It didn’t use to be this way,” she said. “Somewhere in the ‘90s, the Republicans decided on a politics of personal destruction as they went after the Clintons. And that is the provenance of it. And that’s what has continued.”

Wednesday’s shooting at a ballpark in Alexandria, Va., a leafy suburb of Washington, shocked Capitol Hill, bringing House business to a standstill, raising questions about whether lawmakers are sufficiently protected and uniting members in prayers for the five victims.

House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot in the hip and remains in critical condition after three surgeries.

The alleged shooter was identified by the FBI as James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old Illinois man with a long history of liberal activism and a sharp focus on Republican lawmakers and the policies they champion. He was also a former volunteer for Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE's (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, prompting Sanders to denounce Hodgkinson’s actions from the Senate floor Wednesday.

Hodgkinson died Wednesday from injuries he suffered during a shootout with the Capitol Police officers.

His political views led a number of prominent Republicans to launch accusations that liberal attacks on Trump had helped to provoke the shooting.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a fierce Trump defender, said the shooting was fueled by "an increasing intensity of hostility on the left."

Roger Stone, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, blamed the media for stirring up a “climate of hate” against the president. 

And Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) accused former President Barack Obama of driving the country apart in ways that contributed to Hodgkinson’s decision to take up arms.

"I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE," King said on WHO Iowa radio on Thursday. "He contributed mightily to dividing us. He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the fruits of that labor.”

Pelosi rejected those arguments in no uncertain terms, noting that Republicans have been targeting her for years with attack ads that have led directly to “horrible, disgusting” threats against her and her family. 

“So this sick individual does something despicable — and it was horrible what he did, hateful — but for them to all of a sudden be sanctimonious as if they’ve never seen such a thing before,” she said, trailing off. 

“And I don’t even want to go into the president of the United States, in terms of some of the language that he has used.”

Later, seemingly unable to resist, Pelosi circled back to Trump.

“You have a president who says, ‘I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and nobody would care.’ When you have people saying, ‘Beat ‘em up and I’ll pay your legal fees.’ When you have all the assaults that are made on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE. For them to be so sanctimonious is something that I really am almost sad for myself that I have gone down this path with you, because I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to have the fullest discussion of it,” she said.  

“And it’ll be for another day.”