Presiding over Donald Trump‘s impeachment in a historic 12-hour session on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had pinned to her black outfit a gold brooch, sending a subtle message to the president that the Constitution gives Congress the “sole power” to begin his removal from office.
The House voted largely on party lines to charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of justice, following an investigation that revealed Mr Trump had pressured Ukraine for information on his political rivals ahead of 2020 elections in exchange for military aid.
The speaker’s brooch is in the image of the Mace of the United States House of Representatives, a totem of the body’s legislative authority.
Ms Pelosi also wore the brooch the morning after the vote, while announcing the House impeachment inquiry in September, and during the president’s 2019 State of the Union address.
Typically associated with the House’s Sergeant at Arms, the “Mace of the Republic” features a silver eagle spreading its 15-inch wingspan above a silver-encased globe on a shaft consisting of 13 thin rods, each one representing the first 13 colonies.
It weighs 10 pounds and stands 46 inches tall and is mounted on a pedestal to the speaker’s right when the House is in session.
The mace also has been used by the Sergeant at Arms a kind of silent gavel to bring order to an unruly House.
The current mace has been in the House since 1842. It replaced what was intended as a temporary staff that ended up being used by Congress for 25 years, after the original mace was destroyed when the British Army set fire to the Capitol in 1814.
That mace was ordered in the first Congressional session in 1789.
As speaker, Ms Pelosi embodies the House as its administrative leader and the head of the body’s majority party.
She is the first woman to serve in the role, first in 2007 under then-president George W Bush until 2011 under then-president Barack Obama, then again beginning in 2019 when Democrats resumed a majority of the House.
Following the passage of Mr Trump’s impeachment, the Senate is poised to hold a trial. But Ms Pelosi suggested she is withholding sending articles of impeachment to the Senate until the Republican-controlled body has assured an impartial hearing.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gloated that he is in “total coordination” with the White House, appearing to telegraph a verdict in the trial before it has even begun.
First, the House must assign managers to introduce the articles to the Senate.
She told reporters on Thursday: “I was not prepared to put the managers in that bill yet because we do not know the arena we are in. Frankly. I don’t care what the Republicans say.”
The speaker said congress would “like to see a fair process” in the Senate but will be prepared “for whatever it is” just as she hopes that the Senate will “honour the Constitution”.
She added: “It reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president. I don’t think they suspected a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”