Newt Gingrich says Nancy Pelosi should investigate Joe Biden — not Donald Trump

When Gingrich was speaker of the House, he sang a different tune about impeachment

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 26, 2019 4:59AM (EDT)

Newt Gingrich (Getty/Mark Wilson)
Newt Gingrich (Getty/Mark Wilson)

Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House who is intimately experienced with impeachment proceedings, says that Nancy Pelosi, the current occupant of that role, should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — not President Donald Trump.

“When she starts an investigation in the Ukraine, the person that’s going to get clobbered is Joe Biden,” Gingrich said Wednesday to the co-hosts of “Fox & Friends." “If you look at Hunter Biden, his son, both in China and in Ukraine, what you’re looking at is a case study in corruption. And so Nancy Pelosi should have announced an investigation. She said, ‘Nobody’s above the law.' Well, does that include the frontrunner in her own party?”

Gingrich appeared on the president's favorite morning show to defend the White House occupant from accusations that he tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into initiating a corruption investigation about Biden. A redacted transcript of their conversation was released Wednesday. 

Gingrich predicted that “in the long run, historians will think that this is the theater of the absurd,” adding that Trump is “surrounded by a Democratic Party that has lost its mind.” Although he admitted that the president had asked Ukraine to look into possible corruption by the former vice president, Gingrich said that “he didn’t say, ‘Go make something up.’”

During his vice presidency, Biden reportedly exerted pressure on Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin, the country’s top prosecutor, whom Western leaders believed was ignoring corruption among that nation’s political elite. While there is no evidence that Biden misused his power, Trump and his supporters have claimed the opposite. 

In announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, Pelosi said Tuesday that “the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically.” She added that “the actions of the Trump presidency revealed a dishonorable fact: The president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

Because Trump threatened to withhold $391 million in aid from Ukraine prior to the call in which he asked for an investigation into Biden, questions have been raised about whether the president potentially abused his power for his own political gain. The president and has offered conflicting reasons for withholding that aid, saying on Monday that it was because Ukraine had not done enough to root out corruption and on Tuesday because European countries were not spending enough on foreign aid.

Although Gingrich also criticized Pelosi for opening an impeachment inquiry before speaking to the whistleblower, the administration initially withheld the complaint from Congress. The matter was deemed urgent by the the inspector general of the intelligence community.

When Gingrich was speaker of the House, he sang a different tune about impeachment. As former President Bill Clinton was accused of obstructing justice and perjuring himself to conceal an extramarital affair, Gingrich said it was “the most systematic, deliberate obstruction-of-justice cover-up and effort to avoid the truth we have ever seen in American history” and promised that “I will never again, as long as I am speaker, make a speech without commenting on this topic.”

It was later revealed that Gingrich himself had engaged in an extramarital affair as he called for Clinton’s impeachment. During a 2011 appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Gingrich defended himself by saying that while he was not “proud of” his infidelity, but “the question I raised was very simple: Should a president of the United States be above the law?"

Gingrich has also referred to the investigations into Trump — such as his alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election — as a “witch hunt” reminiscent of the Salem witch trials and Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.”  Republicans in the Trump era have accused their critics of “witch hunts” on a regular basis, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., notably doing so after he was dubbed “Moscow Mitch” for his repeated obstruction of election security legislation that would protect American elections from Russian interference in the wake of the 2016 elections.

Last year, Gingrich also said that the key to Trump staying in office is to keep the support of his right-wing base.

“Trump believes, probably correctly — he's his own best communicator ,” Gingrich told USA Today in December. "And if he keeps his base revved up, he will not be convicted. Period. He will be president. Period."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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