Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, in a pointed political gesture after listening tight-lipped to the president tout his achievements in office.
Upon arrival, Trump had broken with custom by not shaking hands with Pelosi, the House speaker, who oversaw his impeachment last month.
Seated behind the president, Pelosi frowned and smiled disbelievingly at his claims until he finished speaking — at which point she rose and very visibly tore up the papers in front of her.
Asked by a reporter to give a reason for her gesture, Pelosi replied: “Because it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives.”
In response, the White House referenced several of the guests of honour that the President had introduced during his State of the Union address.
“Speaker Pelosi just ripped up: One of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The survival of a child born at 21 weeks. The mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller. A service member’s reunion with his family… That’s her legacy,” the White House tweeted.
Earlier, as he handed copies of his speech to Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump appeared to snub the House Speaker when she attempted to shake his hand.
Nancy Pelosi’s official Twitter account posted a stream of attacks on the president and his speech, calling him “a liar” and lashing out at him for taking credit for the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal without acknowledging Pelosi’s contribution to it.
The current visible display of contempt between the two come after Pelosi spearheaded the impeachment proceedings in the Democrat-led House against Donald Trump, accusing him of using his office to force a foreign country to investigate his political rivals and then obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or let staffers testify.
The House of Representatives subsequently voted to impeach Trump on the two impeachment articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – on 18 December.
The current State of the Union speech comes as Trump is expected to be acquitted in the final vote of the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday.
Donald Trump delivered the last annual State of the Union address of his first presidential term before a joint session of the US Congress on 5 February.
While he did not directly touch upon the impeachment drama in this year’s speech, Trump publicly challenged the Democrats on policy grounds and lashed out at socialists.
The US President struck an upbeat note, as he declared that his country was moving ahead at a “pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago”, saying:
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.”
Hinting at the failings of his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump said:
“If we had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witness to America’s great economic success.”
“Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food stamp rolls. Under my administration, 7 million Americans have come off of food stamps, and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare,” continued Trump.
“We are moving forward and we are never going back!”