Pelosi rips up copy of Trump's state of the union speech over 'mistruths'
TORONTO -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has earned praise and scorn across the political divide for ripping up a paper copy of President Donald Trump’s state of the union address.
Pelosi said she ripped the speech at the end of Tuesday night’s address because "it was a manifesto of mistruths." She later told reporters as she was leaving Capitol Hill that it was "the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives."
The gesture was not planned, according to a person close to the speaker.
The White House quickly responded, accusing Pelosi of disrespecting Americans the U.S. president mentioned during his address.
Repeatedly taking swipes at Democrats, Trump's speech set out his case for re-election with a focus on health care while touting the nation's economic success and changes to immigration.
Trump also highlighted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which he claimed will “bring trade with Mexico and Canada to a much higher level” and create nearly 100,000 new jobs. The Office of U.S. Trade Representative estimates the number of new U.S. jobs at 76,000 over five years.
The 78-minute speech made no mention of the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate.
At least two Democrats walked out during the speech while several others, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, chose to boycott it.
Republicans denounced Pelosi's tearing up the speech as disrespectful, but Rep. Veronica Escobar, who gave the Democrats' Spanish-language response to the address, thanked Pelosi for "ripping up lies and hate."
Former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted, "Disappointed to see @SpeakerPelosi rip up the speech that mentioned lives we’ve lost and heroes we celebrated at the SOTU. No matter how you feel or what you disagree with, remember others are watching. This was unbecoming of someone at her level in office."
Rep. Sylvia Garcia from Texas said people are more outraged with Pelosi ripping up the speech “than with the fact that Trump has ripped families apart at the border.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested Pelosi was having a “mental breakdown” and called her actions a “historically low mark for any American politician.”
“And she probably hates baseball, apple pie, and country music!” he tweeted.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called on Pelosi to be censured – a formal statement that expresses disapproval for a politician’s actions.
"As Speaker of the House for four State of the Unions by a President of the other party I am disgusted and insulted by the viciously partisan action of Nancy Pelosi tearing up the speech,” Gingrich said.
The end-of-speech theatrics was part of a tense evening between Trump and Pelosi. Ahead of the address, Trump appeared to dodge the offer of a handshake from the House Speaker, though it was not clear he had seen Pelosi extend her hand. While Pelosi did join several standing ovations during the speech, at some moments when Republicans often cheered, she remained in her seat, shaking her head at Trump's remarks.
The speech-ripping echoes Pelosi's response to the 2019 state of the union when her smirking clap raised the question: was her applause sarcastic? Pelosi insisted that it was genuine.
Pelosi has been at the forefront of the effort to remove Trump from office on two impeachment charges. Trump is expected to be acquitted of the charges at the Senate level as early as Wednesday.
With files from The Associated Press