House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cannot be arrested, sentenced to jail, or fined for tearing up a copy of President Trump’s State of the Union speech, according to a Fox News presenter who informed an ecstatic Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Wednesday.
This comes after Gaetz asked for an inquiry of Pelosi’s actions by the House Ethics Committee, as well as a referral of her actions to the Justice Department for a criminal probe. Specifically, Gaetz pointed to a provision that makes it a crime for anybody in possession of certain government data to mutilate, erase, or otherwise destroy them.
According to a letter to the House Ethics Committee signed by Gaetz, a fervent and often vociferous supporter of Trump, “there is no doubt that Speaker Pelosi “mutilated, erased, or destroyed” the copy of the President’s speech handed to her.”
It was noted in the letter that “the video evidence is obvious and extensive, and the Speaker herself stated to reporters that she tore up the paper.” “No one is above the law,” Gaetz proclaimed in a tweet that was sent in conjunction with the letter.
In a statement released early Thursday morning, Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, termed Gaetz’s move “a ridiculous act by a Congressman seeking to get back into the President’s good graces after he voted with Democrats and against the President on Iran.”
During an appearance on Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham’s program on Wednesday night, Gaetz hammered home his point on the importance of voting.
Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071).
Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/dXPPWQNtI8
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) February 6, 2020
We have to hold her accountable for what she has done to the House of Representatives and to the nation as a whole, added Gaetz.
Many issues arise with Gaetz’s proposed prosecution since a copy of a speech, even if it is delivered by the president, is not an official record, and Pelosi was not in charge of an official record. Documents and other official items will be preserved in institutions like the National Archives as a result of the legislation.
A former Supreme Court clerk, Ingraham was as upset by Pelosi’s actions but is a law school alumnus. She couldn’t disguise her chuckle at Gaetz’s request for an investigation. Although it’s a copy of the speech signed by the president and hence not an official record, it’s still a record.” While that’s a lovely idea, it won’t work.”
Gaetz and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) did not mention the criminal referral again throughout the interview, but instead focused on the House’s dignity and what Gaetz termed Pelosi’s “serious impulse control issues.”
According to staffer Hammill to Pelosi: “We enjoy the irony of this member [Gaetz] making judgments about the dignity of the House.”
In a tweet from Trump supporter Charlie Kirk, founder of conservative organization Turning Point USA, the claim that Pelosi had unlawfully deleted public data first appeared, but was immediately discredited by many fact-checkers.
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 6, 2020