Nancy Pelosi has been elected as the speaker of the America’s house of representatives, a position which makes her the country’s third-most powerful politician – and the spearhead for the opposition against President Donald Trump.
As a mother of five and a grandmother of nine, she has shattered glass ceilings to become one of the most powerful politicians of the 21st century.
Pelosi takes the role of political and parliamentary leader of the house of representatives during a new era of divided government with a pledge to “reach across the aisle in this chamber and across the divisions in this great nation,” according to extracts of her prepared remarks on Thursday.
In 2007 she made history as the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, but with Trump in the White House and Republicans still controlling the Senate, Pelosi’s return to the speaker’s office to lead a Democratic majority comes at a critical and fragmented moment in American politics.
On the campaign trail last autumn, she told The Associated Press: “None of us is indispensable.”
“But I do know that I’m very good at what I do,” she added.
“The floor of this House must be America’s Town Hall: where the people will see our debates and where their voices will be heard and affect our decisions,” she says.
The 78-year-old plans to push for the lowering health care costs, investing in green infrastructure and “restoring integrity” to government as political priorities.
“We must be champions of the middle class and all those who aspire to it — because the middle class is the backbone of democracy,” she says.
But Pelosi is viewed as a polarising figure – vilified by Republicans as a San Francisco liberal and a caricature of big government.
Throughout her campaign trail, a small group of unhappy Democrats had been threatening to vote against the 78-year-old unless she agreed to take less of an active role in politics. The group wants the party’s ageing leaders to step aside for a new generation.
The Democrats regained control of the lower house in midterm elections in November, in which voters delivered a mixed verdict on Trump’s presidency, with Republicans consolidating their grip on the Senate and keeping some key state governorships, but losing the house.
In an interview that aired on Thursday’s NBC’s Today Show, Pelosi said Democrats will give Donald Trump “nothing for the wall,”, his controversial plan for the Mexican border, as a government debate surrounding his demand for money to build the wall wall grinds on, shutting down the government.
“No, no. Nothing for the wall. We’re talking about border security,” she said.
“There is no amount of persuasion he can do to say to us, ‘We want you to do something that is not effective, that costs billions of dollars.’ That sends the wrong message about who we are as a country.”
Also on the Today show, Pelosi said she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of special counsel Robert Mueller seeking an indictment against Trump, splitting from some legal experts who say it can’t be done.
Co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Pelosi whether Mueller’s team “should honour and observe” Justice Department guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted. “I do not think that that is conclusive,” Pelosi responded. “No, I do not.”
“Let’s see what Mueller does,” Pelosi said when pressed to confirm whether the special counsel had the ability to indict Trump. “Let’s spend our time on getting results for the American people.”
Pelosi added that there is no law against a sitting president being indicted.
“I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law,” she said.