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Nancy Pelosi says she respects Mike Johnson and hopes Trump isn't 'his puppeteer'

Brent D. Griffiths   

Nancy Pelosi says she respects Mike Johnson and hopes Trump isn't 'his puppeteer'
  • Nancy Pelosi offered muted praise for Speaker Mike Johnson.
  • The former House speaker said Johnson is "a person of integrity."

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she respects Speaker Mike Johnson even if she strongly disagrees with his politics, a sign that the top Republican holds some sway with congressional Democrats.

Pelosi did offer one potential qualm amid her muted praise for the speaker who is facing potential ouster due to efforts led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican.

"I hope that what is said about Donald Trump being his puppeteer is not true," Pelosi, who Democrats formally declared as their Speaker Emerita, told the Atlantic as part of a lengthy profile on Johnson.

Pelosi's words are a stark contrast to how she viewed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Californian. As The New York Times once pointed out, Pelosi publicly called him a moron while McCarthy got in trouble for joking about hitting her with the speaker's gavel.

The former speaker told The Atlantic that she viewed Johnson as "a person of integrity," adding she was "not here to criticize him."

Pelosi, widely regarded as one of the most consequential speakers in history, also referenced the current speaker's inexperience. Johnson was first elected to Congress in 2016, making him the least experienced speaker since 1883.

"Personally, I respect his authenticity; I disagree with his politics, but that's okay," Pelosi said.

She added, "If you're just sitting in the back bench, and then they tap you to become the speaker, they shouldn't complain when you don't know how to be speaker from day one."

Other House Democrats shared Pelosi's skepticism of McCarthy, which helped fuel the party's decision to join Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, and seven other Republicans in voting for McCarthy's historic ouster.

The expectation is that if Greene follows through with her threat to force a vote on Johnson, standing Democrats will help protect him.

Greene recently added two more Republican supporters, Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

House lawmakers are now on recess after the chamber voted 311 to 112 in favor of a legislative package that includes more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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