Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Samohi Alumnus Questions Nancy Pelosi at Washington DC CNN Town Hall

"I just didn't want it (impeachment) to be a way of life in our country."-- Nancy Pelosi on Monica Lewinsky scandal

In one of those moments that shortens the seven degrees of separation between Santa Monica residents and the power brokers in Washington, Samohi alumnus Dean Chien was chosen to ask Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a pointed question at the Town Hall in our nation's capital on December 5.

Chien was president of santa monica high school's student body when he graduated in 2016. Now, as a senior at Johns Hopkins University, he's once again student body president and has been on the Dean's list every year.

The town hall was put on by CNN, whose producer reached out the Student Government Association at Johns Hopkins and asked for question submissions. The students had to wait until the day of the town hall to find out if any of their questions had been selected for airing. Even after Chien was notified that some of their questions had been chosen as possibilities, it wasn't until the floor staff at the event told him to speak that he knew he was going to be able to pose his tough question.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced the House would proceed with articles of impeachment. Chien's question touched on Pelosi's previous opposition to calls for impeachment in other situations:

"You resisted calls for the impeachment of President Bush in 2006 and President Trump following the Mueller Report earlier this year. This time is different. Why did you oppose impeachment in the past, and what is your obligation to protect democracy from the actions of our president now?"

In her answer, Pelosi recalled that when she first became Speaker of the House, there was "an overwhelming call" to impeach President George W. Bush because of the U.S. involvement in the Iraq War. Because Pelosi was a ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, she knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq. She knew the White House had misrepresented that to the public. But Pelosi said, "In my view, that was not a grounds for impeachment." After the impeachment of President Bill Clinton over simply "being stupid," Pelosi said, "I just didn't want it (impeachment) to be a way of life in our country."

Regarding her opposition to impeaching President Trump in July, Pelosi said that even though "a thousand legal scholars" had found an impeachable offense within the Mueller Report, that "wasn't so clear to the public." It was only once "the Ukraine" that all doubt was removed. "It was self-evident the president had undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections, and violated his oath of office. That's something that cannot be ignored," she stated.

Dean Chien said afterward that, "It was an honor to be able to attend the CNN Town Hall and hear Speaker Pelosi talk about some of the most important issues facing our nation and democracy." He added that though he thought his question was pertinent given Pelosi's earlier impeachment announcement, "Other questions highlighted just how much Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives do for this country on a day-to-day basis, from healthcare to the climate crisis."

Pelosi reportedly did tire of questions regarding impeachment at the town hall, but the fact is, that with a Republican-majority Senate and a Republican in the White House, there is little the House of Representatives can do to forward a Democrat agenda other than impeaching the president.

Chien will be one of the first to graduate in John Hopkins' new major of Medicine, Science, and the Humanities, a discipline that combines science and writing.


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