The House speaker sparked the opposing party’s ire on Wednesday when she used a remarkable number of writing implements – more than three trays littered with them – to sign her name on the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.The pens, engraved with her signature, were intended as souvenirs for Pelosi’s allies. She carefully signed the documents, apparently stroke by stroke, using different pens for each portion of her signature. Then she distributed them to impeachment managers and committee members.

“The truth comes out. This isn’t ‘somber’ or ‘serious’ for @HouseDemocrats,” the House Republicans tweeted, referring to Democrats’ description of the impeachment process. “This has been partisan since day one.”

Individual Republicans piled on: “They claim it’s a somber, serious occasion they’re heartbroken over … and then they pass out impeachment-signing pens with special cases. Folks. You can’t make it up,” wrote the North Carolina Republican representative Mark Meadows. The House Republican whip, Steve Scalise, called the moment “unbelievable”. And Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, sarcastically suggested Pelosi “was so somber as she gave them away to people like prizes”.But, as many commentators pointed out, Pelosi was only doing what many politicians before her have done – including one Donald J Trump:

Barack Obama used 22 pens to sign his landmark healthcare law. Lyndon Johnson is said to have used 75 to sign the Civil Rights Act. The tradition goes back to at least Franklin Roosevelt, as Time explained in 2010: “The pen used to sign legislation itself becomes a historical artifact. The more pens a president uses, the more thank-you gifts he can offer to those who helped create that piece of history.”

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