House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the end of her tenure in congressional leadership Thursday after Republicans officially took the lower chamber following last week’s midterm elections.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.”
Pelosi’s remarks were quickly followed by a similar announcement from Democrat Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who will also stay in Congress but step down from leadership. The pair of retirements give New York Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, now the chair of the House Democrat Caucus, a clear path to cement control over the minority in the lower chamber. For a party obsessed with “firsts,” Jeffries would follow Pelosi’s rule as the first woman speaker to become the first black lawmaker leading the party in either the House or Senate.
Jeffries, 52, has served in the House since his first congressional election in 2012. While representing a district near-adjacent to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York City area, Jeffries has been no ally of the left-wing newcomer and her affiliated insurgent group, Justice Democrats. As the fifth-ranking Democrat in the House, Jeffries orchestrated efforts to protect incumbents from the leftist primaries launched by the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party.
“It’s important to support effective legislators for delivering for the American people in partnership with the Biden administration,” Jeffries said in February.
While an establishment foe of AOC and the Justice Democrats, Jeffries remains a conventional partisan who has embraced just about every cooked-up conspiracy the Democratic Party could muster against former President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Jeffries is no moderate but instead offers a picturesque reflection of where the Democratic Party has shifted over the last decade, steeped in identity politics and Russiagate hysteria.
In 2017, Jeffries smeared Trump’s supporters as racist on the floor of the lower chamber.
“We do know that every racist in America voted for Donald Trump,” Jeffries said. “That’s a problem.”
Jeffries also called Trump “the ‘Grand Wizard’ of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” in 2019 and defended his comments on CNN, calling his language “colorful.” A grand wizard is the head of the Ku Klux Klan.
Just this year, Jeffries decried the Senate filibuster as “dripping in racist history, in defense of slavery and Jim Crow.” The congressional record shows Democrats have used Senate filibusters far more than Republicans have, and the Democratic Caucus has voted to sustain filibusters 15,579 times since 1989, according to GovTrack.
When not engaged in the divisiveness of identity politics, Jeffries is taking the lead on Democrats’ information operations to undermine Republicans with deep state investigations. Jeffries was an impeachment manager in Trump’s first trial before the Senate when Democrats accused the president of improperly exploiting U.S. military aid to extract political favors.
In February 2020, Trump was acquitted of Democrats’ charges alleging he participated in a quid pro quo demanding the Ukrainian government investigate its role in the creation of the Russia-collusion hoax that did irreparable harm to the United States. That investigation would inevitably center around Hunter Biden, son of now-President Joe Biden, who raked in tens of thousands of dollars in excess compensation for a seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company despite no prior industry experience.
Later reflecting on this trial in an interview for the Washington Post, as the Democrats prepared to impeach Trump once more over the Jan 6. Capitol riot, Jeffries refused to concede their case against the outgoing president.
“We believed that we did present a mountain of evidence and clear and convincing evidence that Donald Trump corruptly abused his power by pressuring a foreign government, Ukraine, to target an American citizen, Joe Biden, as part of then-President Trump’s efforts to interfere with the 2020 election,” Jeffries said.
But the Ukrainian impeachment saga was merely the follow-up to the Democrats’ initial plans to indict President Trump as a Russian agent. Jeffries participated in the witch hunt and mocked congressional oversight of the FBI’s collusion hoax in 2018 as “a three-ring circus.”
“Let’s stop wasting taxpayer dollars and get back to the business of the American people,” Jeffries admonished colleagues in comments highlighted by the Washington Post.
During an interview with CNN in 2019, Jeffries amplified claims the Trump campaign captured the White House in cahoots with Kremlin leadership.
“With every passing day, every passing week, every passing month,” Jeffries said, “the circumstances around the 2016 campaign and the possible conspiracy that seems like it may have existed between Russian spies and some high level members of the Trump campaign to sell out our democracy grows stronger.”
“That is deeply troubling for the republic, for the democracy and for a significant number of American people,” the congressman added.
No one person, of course, let alone Trump himself, was found guilty of Russian collusion after a more than two-year special counsel investigation run entirely by Democrats with unlimited resources. Jeffries still assigned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the moniker “Moscow Mitch” while trying to frame Republicans as Kremlin allies.