"Don't mess with me," this is how Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi rebuffed a reporter when he asked her if she hated Donald Trump, soon after she announced that impeachment charges would be filed against the president.
The 79-year-old veteran California Democrat was responding to questions from reporters on the news that the House of Representatives will soon file impeachment charges against Trump for alleged abuse of power for electoral gains.
Pelosi on Thursday ordered the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump after she accused him of election interference and abusing his power ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
During the press conference she was asked if the Opposition Democrats were proceeding with the articles of impeachment because of a personal dislike of the 73-year-old US president.
As Pelosi was on her way out of the weekly press conference, a reporter from Sinclair asked her if she hates President Trump. Pelosi stopped and said: "I don't hate anybody."
She then walked back to the microphone, and said that while she believes president Trump is a "coward," that's only about his political positions.
"I think this President is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence," she said.
"I think that he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we are very proud of. I think he is in denial about the climate crisis. However, that's about the election."
She continued: "This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the President's violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word 'hate' in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone."
"I pray for the President all the time," Pelosi said. "So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that," she chided the reporter. When asked about her comments at a CNN town hall later Thursday, Pelosi again invoked her Catholic faith to explain her response.
"We were raised in the Catholic faith and the word 'hate a person' was just -- that just didn't happen," she said. "The word 'hate' is a terrible word. ... So for him to say that was really disgusting to me," Pelosi said.
The top Democrat said it was heartbreaking that the House has to impeach the president, but added that Trump gave them no choice.
"I'm really sorry the President made this necessary," she added.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Sinclair spokesperson Ronn Torossian said the reporter meant "no disrespect" and that the organisation does not "not dictate to our reporters what they can and cannot ask."
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the United States.
"We have reviewed the incident and based on the video, this was clearly not meant to be an inflammatory question and, further, this gave Speaker Pelosi the opportunity to clarify her own views, something that only strengthens positive dialogue," Torossian said in the statement.