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Trump snubs top Democrat Pelosi, she rips up his speech to Congress

This article is more than 12 months old

Tensions run high between US President and Speaker at State of the Union address

WASHINGTON A bitter feud between US President Donald Trump and top Democrat Nancy Pelosi boiled over at his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with Mr Trump snubbing her outstretched hand and Ms Pelosi ripping apart a copy of his remarks behind his back.

Mr Trump avoided the subject of his impeachment drama in a pugnacious 80-minute speech, but the scars from the battle were evident with fellow Republicans giving him standing ovations while rival Democrats, for the most part, remained seated.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to acquit him of charges he abused his powers and obstructed Congress today.

Seeing Ms Pelosi, the US House of Representatives Speaker, for the first time since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago, Mr Trump declined to shake her outstretched hand as he gave her a copy of his remarks before starting his speech.

Having not spoken to Mr Trump since their last meeting, Ms Pelosi appeared to be taken aback. She avoided citing the customary "high privilege and distinct honour" that usually accompanies the speaker's introduction of the president to Congress.

"Members of Congress, the President of the United States" was all she said in introducing Mr Trump. When his speech ended, Ms Pelosi stood and tore up her copy of the remarks he had handed her, later telling reporters it was "the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative".


It was a sign that little legislative progress should be expected over the next year. The impeachment case has intensified bitter feelings between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi that have existed throughout his presidency.

As he began the speech, Republicans from both houses of Congress chanted "four more years" while he stood at the lectern in the chamber of the House with a presidential election almost nine months away.

Democrats sat silently and some could be seen shaking their heads as Mr Trump declared: "The state of our union is stronger than ever before."

Ms Pelosi, who dropped her opposition to impeachment and allowed Democratic lawmakers to seek the charges against him, sat stoically and grim-faced behind Mr Trump and paged through a paper copy of his speech.

Mr Trump presented himself as a big improvement over former president Barack Obama, whom he succeeded three years ago, saying he had bolstered US economic growth and increased jobs.

He offered an upbeat portrayal of his presidency in hopes of persuading Americans to give him another four-year term in the Nov 3 election.

"In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America's destiny, he said.

"We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!"

Mr Trump also revived his arguments that migrants should be stopped from crossing the southern US border and that so-called "sanctuary cities" where migrants are protected are wrong.

Ms Pelosi could be seen shaking her head as Mr Trump spoke of his views on immigration.