What a difference a day makes — and a counterthreat. On Friday, Nancy Pelosi bragged to TPM’s Brian Beutler that she had access to “a thousand pages” of investigatory material on Newt Gingrich, implying that she would “talk” later in the campaign if Gingrich won the nomination. However, after Gingrich blasted her a few hours later and called for an ethics probe into Pelosi’s threat, her office suddenly developed a case of amnesia about those thousand pages:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi now says she is not sitting on a trove of opposition research on former House Speaker-turned-GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. …
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, suggested that her comments have been misconstrued beyond the leader’s intent.
“Leader Pelosi was clearly referring to the extensive amount of information that is in the public record, including the comprehensive committee report with which the public may not be fully aware,” Hammill wrote in a statement.
Er … sure she was. This is what she told Beutler:
Pelosi didn’t go into detail about Gingrich’s past transgressions, but she tipped her hand. “One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi said. “I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”
How exactly was that “misconstrued”? The public has been aware of the official committee report for more than a decade, and it got very wide play in the media at the time. No one doubts that this report will be rehashed again and again if Gingrich wins the nomination. Part of that conversation, though, will be the IRS’ report clearing Gingrich more than a year later of any wrongdoing, a development that goes a long way to support Gingrich’s contention yesterday that the entire ethics probe was as politicized as Pelosi’s unveiled threat yesterday to reveal sealed records in the probe. That exoneration didn’t get anywhere near the media coverage that the Ethics Committee report did at the time, either.
Pelosi’s backpedaling shows that she knows that she overplayed her hand, and if Gingrich wins the nomination (which is still a pretty big if, recent polling aside), that line of attack has been compromised by her inability to keep from bragging about her access to it. As Gingrich said, it’s an early Christmas gift — and more reason why Republicans can make Pelosi a central issue in House races next fall.