Last Updated on January 31, 2020
After President Donald Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, landmark trade legislation that the president promised while campaigning in 2016, he made a show of giving pens to those standing around him.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously handed out expensive, customized pens when she eventually signed the paperwork allowing the House impeachment proceedings to be turned over to the Senate. Pelosi was mocked at the time for appearing to celebrate what she had previously called a “somber” event with commemorative souvenirs for those present.
After signing the USMCA, President Trump was recorded giving nondescript black pens to those in the crowd behind him, leading one Twitter user to share the video and write, “Is he mocking Nancy?”
President Trump handed out well over a dozen pens from a wooden box sitting next to the presidential seal. Initially, the president started with one pen at a time, before evoking laughter as he handed fist fulls of pens to those around him.
The Associated Press notes that commemorative pens are “swag” in Washington, D.C., but noted that Pelosi’s commemorative pens, unlike those of President Trump, were apparently to commemorate what she previously considered a terrible thing for the country, while President Trump’s pens were to commemorate a lucrative new trade deal that, if the president is correct, will result in thousands of new jobs for American citizens.
But Pelosi handed out the pens on a darker day, as she signed the impeachment articles against only the third president in history.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Wednesday criticized Pelosi both for the pens and the speaker’s demeanor, which got some blowback on social media for being too cheery for such a grave development.
“Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens served up on silver platters to sign the sham articles of impeachment,” Grisham tweeted, reposting a photo. Pelosi, she wrote, “was so somber as she gave them away to people like prizes.”
The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump appears to be winding down, as it seems Republicans will have the votes to block Democrats from calling witnesses that would likely include John Bolton and Hunter Biden.