President Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST. Refresh here for updates.
Pelosi tears up Trump's speech
A minute after Trump finished the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could be seen over his left shoulder ripping up the text.
Throughout the president's remarks -- as Trump frequently slammed Democrats on health care, immigration and other issues, Pelosi rarely stood to applaud and could be seen flipping papers behind the president. Pelosi appeared to be following along with Trump's words as he spoke.
The remarkable moment came at a time of considerable tension between Pelosi and the president, just weeks after House Democrats voted to impeach the president. The speaker and the president have not met for months.
Before his remarks, Trump appeared to rebuff an effort by Pelosi to shake Pelosi's hand. The speaker reached her hand out as Trump gave her a copy of his speech, but Trump abruptly turned his back to her to face his audience in the chamber. He also did not shake the hand of Vice President Mike Pence, who was sitting next to Pelosi.
Pelosi also appeared to slight Trump at the start of his remarks.
Traditionally, the speaker introduces the president by saying: "Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States."
In this case, Pelosi omitted several of the words: "Members of Congress, the President of the United States."
Pelosi stuffed what remained of Trump's ripped-up speech in a blue envelope. She showed it off to fellow Democrats, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the House managers prosecuting the impeachment case. After she left the dais, she took the ripped pieces of paper from the envelope and waved them in the air to those left in the chamber and those in the public-viewing gallery above the chamber.
As she waved the speech, those in the audience could see the large and prevalent signature of the president.
Pelosi's public punctuation mark, which caught fire on social media, followed an address from the president that was light on specifics and included several highly political refrains that he often embraces at his rallies.
"There’s nothing Trump hates more than a strong woman standing up to him," said Josh Schwerin with Priorities USA, a Democratic PAC. "Pelosi has handled her relationship with him extremely well.
- John Fritze, Christal Hayes, David Jackson
SOTU moment as soldier returns from deployment
President Trump surprised the family of Army Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, who was serving his fourth deployment to the Middle East. During his address, Trump told the story of Williams’ family minutes before Williams walked down an aisle in the gallery to greet his family.
“Welcome home, Sgt. Williams,” Trump said as the chamber erupted into chants of “USA.”
Trump said that Williams’ wife, Amy, works full time and volunteers helping other military families. Williams has deployed in Afghanistan for the past 7 months, Trump said.
“Amy's kids have not seen their father's face in many months,” the president said. “Amy, your family's sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and peace -- we thank you.”
- John Fritze
Pelosi’s guest taken from chamber during Trump’s address
Fred Guttenberg, a gun violence activist who lost his daughter in the Parkland, Fla. school shooting in 2018, was escorted out of the House chamber by police after loudly shouting something at the president during his address.
It was unclear what Guttenberg, who was wearing an orange tie – the color signifying gun safety – shouted before he was grabbed by authorities and escorted out of the chamber.
Guttenberg was one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guests for the event and was seated on a public-viewing balcony above the chamber. He lost his daughter, Jaime Guttenberg, on Feb. 14, 2018 after another student opened fire in a high school in Parkland, Fla.
- Christal Hayes
Trump puts Soleimani killing front and center
President Trump began talking about the death Qasem Soleimani on the campaign trail just days after ordering the strike in Iraq that killed the Iranian general.
And so it was no surprise that the president put the Soleimani strike front and center in his State of the Union on Tuesday.
“Soleimani was the Iranian Regime's most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq,” Trump said. “As the world's top terrorist, Soleimani orchestrated the deaths of countless men, women, and children.”
Trump, who has described the Iranian general as a "sadistic mass murderer," signed off on a drone strike last month near the Baghdad International Airport that killed him. There were initially widespread concerns that the attack would tip the U.S. into another Middle East war, particularly as Tehran promised swift reprisals.
But Iran’s counterattack – a round of missiles fired into U.S. bases in Iraq – caused only minor damage and no U.S. casualties. Most Republicans have since warmed to the strike and Trump has framed it as an example of how his administration has been tough on Iran.
Protecting Americans' health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the Coronavirus outbreak in China. My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.
“Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice,” Trump said. “If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life!”
- John Fritze
Trump slams ‘sanctuary’ cities
President Trump used part of his State of the Union address to slam “sanctuary cities” that limit cooperation with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law.
Trump singled out California in particular for criticism, blasting what he called “an outrageous law” that bars all law enforcement agencies in the state from using their money, equipment or personnel to assist the federal government in enforcing immigration actions.
Previewing what will be an issue in his re-election campaign, Trump claimed that such laws have “catastrophic results.” He cited recent examples of immigrants who are in the country illegally and have been freed under sanctuary city laws – and then have gone on to commit violent crimes such as rape and murder.
“The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans – not criminal aliens,” he said.
He called on Congress to pass a law that would allow Americans to sue when their loved ones are killed or hurt as a result of sanctuary city policies.
- Michael Collins
Rush Limbaugh receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
During the speech, President Trump recognized conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, 69, who announced Monday he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
In a surprise moment, Trump asked the First Lady to place on Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honor.
The president has bestowed the medal 14 times, including to athletes Tiger Woods, Jerry West and Babe Ruth. Past presidents have awarded politicians, artists and scientists with the prestigious medal.
Trump and Limbaugh have occasionally golfed together and were seen eating lunch together at Trump's West Palm Beach golf club just before Christmas.
"Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a Stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis," Trump said of Limbaugh. "This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet."
Trump told television anchors at a private lunch earlier Tuesday he planned to award Limbaugh the civilian award as early as next week
- Courtney Subramanian
House Democrats cut off Trump’s speech to highlight healthcare
As the president highlighted healthcare, saying he wanted a new health care system that protects Americans with pre-existing conditions, House Democrats cut off his speech and chanted for him to take up a piece of legislation that addresses the issue.
Many others laughed, booed, and crossed their arms as the president talked about healthcare. Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calf., and Norma Torres, D-Calif., both lifted their arms into a giant shrug.
As the president said he was combatting pharmaceutical companies, Democrats started to loudly laugh.
Many House Democrats then rose to their feet, holding up three fingers. They loudly shouted and cut off the president’s speech for several seconds as they chanted “H.R. 3,” the healthcare legislation that passed the House last year and has not been taken up in the Senate.
- Christal Hayes
Trump slams Democrats with rally language on health care
President Trump is hitting hard on campaign themes during the speech, attacking Democrats for their stances on healthcare.
“One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans,” Trump said, referencing Democratic legislation to create a government-run health care system – so-called Medicare for All.
Republican lawmakers in the chamber could be heard booing.
Democrats have been largely divided over how to address the nation’s health care system after the Trump administration has undercut the 2010 Obamacare law. Republicans ran on repealing that law but failed to do so when Trump took office in 2017. However, Trump has gutted a key and controversial component, a requirement that every American have some form of health insurance or pay an income tax penalty.
“We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!”
Trump went on to blast Democrats on immigration, suggesting they want to provide “free healthcare to illegal aliens.” Several of the leading presidential candidates do support allowing immigrants in the country illegally to access government-run health care.
The president said he wanted a new health care system that protects Americans with pre-existing conditions, but he offered no specifics for how replacement for Obamacare would accomplish that goal.
-- John Fritze
Trump promotes 'School Choice' - and appeals to Pennsylvania
In promoting one of his State of the Union's signature items – "school choice" – President Trump also made a specific appeal to a key campaign state: Pennsylvania.
Trump noted that Pennsylvania has a program for "opportunity scholarships" for private schools, but thousands of students remain on waiting lists. Their futures, he said, were "put further out of reach when Pennsylvania's Governor vetoed legislation to expand school choice for 50,000 children."
Trump proposed federal legislation to give tax credits to people who contribute to scholarship funds - and also announced that a child he had invited to the speech, Janiyah Davis of Pennsylvania, would be receiving a scholarship.
Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, and the state is key to his re-election bid in November.
– David Jackson
Trump calls out Space Force's 'youngest potential recruit'
President Trump also touted his creation of the Space Force, a new branch of the United States Armed Forces.
He called out one of the new branch's "youngest potential recruits," 13-year-old Iain Lanphier of Arizona.
"He aspires to go to the Air Force Academy, and then, he has his eye on the Space Force," Trump said. "As Iain says, 'most people look up at space, I want to look down on the world.'"
Trump also recognized Iain's great-grandfather Charles McGee, 100, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots.
He noted that a few weeks ago he signed a bill promoting McGee to Brigadier General and earlier Tuesday pinned the stars on his shoulders in the Oval Office.
- Courtney Subramanian
Trump touts new trade deals
President Trump spent part of his address boasting of a revised trade deal he negotiated with Mexico and Canada and a separate new trade agreement with China.
“Unfair trade is perhaps the single biggest reason that I decided to run for president,” he said.
Trump claimed the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will lead to a “much greater level of fairness and reciprocity” in trade with those countries. The China deal will end China’s practice of taking advantage of the United States, he said.
- Michael Collins
Trump State of the Union speech has campaign feel
This has been an unusually political State of the Union speech.
First, Republican lawmakers chanted "Four More Years!" before Trump even began speaking.
Trump then picked up the political mantle and recited accomplishments that echoed his campaign speeches.
Trump repeatedly made negative references to Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, at one point hitting the "failed economic policies of the previous administration" – and drawing boos from the Democratic half of the U.S. House chamber.
During the speech, Trump also referred to "my election," touted "our great Republican tax cuts," and lauded the "promises I made to the American people."
The speech also had more than his share of first-person pronouns.
Before the speech, Trump and aides promised a "relentlessly optimistic" tone.
It's been more like persistently political. The election is nine months away.
- David Jackson
Designated survivor: Interior Secretary Bernhardt
The White House has chosen Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as the designated survivor for President Trump’s State of the Union address.
Bernhardt, who has been in office less than a year, leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees who oversee public lands, including national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges.
Presidents have long selected a Cabinet member to skip the State of the Union, which puts the president, vice president, the speaker of the House and others in the line of presidential succession in a single room. If disaster strikes and wipes out the government during the speech, the survivor would become president.
The tradition harkens back to the dawn of the Cold War and fears of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.
During the speech, the survivor is taken to a secure, undisclosed location.
The identity is kept secret until just before the speech, when his or her absence would be known anyway. The practice inspired a popular television show in 2016 in which Kiefer Sutherland played an official named as the designated survivor who becomes president after an explosion in the Capitol.
--Michael Collins and John Fritze
Trump, Pelosi meet for first time since ‘meltdown’
When President Trump arrived in the House to deliver his State of the Union address, waiting for him was someone he hasn’t seen in months: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump, who often mocks the California Democrat as “Nervous Nancy,” climbed the dais where Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence will be seated behind him during the speech. He did not speak to California Democrat and appeared to rebuff her offer for a handshake.
Pelosi was dressed in white and wearing the golden Mace of the Republic brooch she wore on the day she opened impeachment proceedings against Trump. The pin is a historic symbol of the legislative authority of the House, and Pelosi often wears it high-profile events.
Trump and Pelosi haven’t spoken since Pelosi and other congressional Democrats walked out of a White House meeting on Syria last October. Democrats said Trump insulted Pelosi, calling her “a third-rate politician.”
Pelosi said Trump had “a meltdown” because, just before the meeting, the House approved a resolution condemning his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria.
“It shook him up, melted him down, and he behaved accordingly,” she said.
Hours later, in a series of tweets attacking her, Trump said it was Pelosi who had an "unhinged meltdown." In another tweet, Trump claimed Pelosi "needs help fast," adding, "Pray for her, she is a very sick person!"
- Michael Collins
'Four more years'
As the president entered the chamber, Republicans went wild. Many pulled out their phones to take photos or videos. All were wearing big smiles and shouted “Woo!”
When the president took the dais, Republicans started chanting “four more years!”
The applause divided the chamber. As Republicans rushed to the center aisle where the president walked, Democrats stood motionless.
Some remained seated, including some of the most progressive members of the House Democratic caucus such as Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
Those who did stand for his entrance clasped their hands in front of them, others crossed their arms. None smiled.
As the president began touting some of his accomplishments, including low employment rates and the state of the economy, Republicans rose to their feet relatedly offering loud applause. On the other side of the room, Democrats shook their hands and booed.
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., rose to his feet each time and smiled widely. He peered over to the Democrats on his left that were still seated and shook his head.
As the president talked about minorities, Democrats shouted out “NO!”
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Penn., looked exasperated. She looked over to her seatmate Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and shook her head repeatedly, looking up at the president.
- Christal Hayes
Trump starts off speech on the economy
President Trump, as expected, is kicking off his State of the Union address by focusing mostly on the economy. That has been and will continue to be a central theme of his reelection campaign.
“Jobs are booming,” Trump said in his opening lines. “Our country is thriving and highly respected again.”
Trump claimed the U.S. economy is the "best its ever been." The nation's unemployment rate sits at 3.5%, its lowest level since the 1960s.
"The state of union is stronger than ever before," Trump said.
-- John Fritze
Trump arrives at the Capitol
President Trump arrived at the U.S. Capitol at 8:45 p.m. for the State of the Union, according to reporters traveling with him for the short motorcade drive from the White House. The president will be formally announced and will then make a slow trek full of handshakes and backslapping up the center aisle of the House chamber to the dais, where Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are already waiting for him.
- John Fritze
Excerpts: Trump to tout economy in address
President Donald Trump will tout the U.S. economy in his State of the Union address Tuesday, claiming that his administration “shattered the mentality of American decline,” according to excerpts released by the White House.
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!” the president said.
Trump will claim that some 300,000 working-age people dropped out of the workforce under the Obama administration and will say that 3.5 million working-age people joined the workforce during his time in office.
Other excerpts from Trump’s speech:
“Many politicians came and went, pledging to change or replace NAFTA – only to do absolutely nothing. But unlike so many who came before me, I KEEP MY PROMISES. Six days ago, I replaced NAFTA and signed the brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law,” Trump will say.
“Days ago, we signed the groundbreaking new agreement with China that will defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions of dollars into our treasury, and open vast new markets for products made and grown right here in the USA,” he will say.
“We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!,” Trump will say, hitting on a longstanding talking point to attack the Democrats running against him for president.
“As we defend American lives, we are working to end America’s wars in the Middle East,” Trump will say.
- John Fritze
House impeachment managers sitting in the front row
The House managers, who for weeks have been prosecuting the case against Trump in his impeachment trial, will be sitting in one of the front rows as the president delivers his State of the Union address.
The managers, Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calf., Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Jason Crow, D-Colo., Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, Val Demings, D-Fla., Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., sat in the front row of where members of the House were designated, leaving them front and center for the president as he addresses the chamber, which is happening just one day before the Senate will render a verdict in his impeachment trial.
Before the president arrived, the House managers were approached by Senate Democrats, including Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama - one of the few senators who has yet to signal how he will vote on the articles of impeachment on Wednesday.
- Christal Hayes
Two dozen lawmakers plan to wear purple to promote bipartisanship after impeachment
Two dozen House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle plan to don purple to promote unity and bipartisanship during the president’s address.
The color – a mix of red and blue – is one of several being worn by lawmakers sitting in the audience as Trump addresses the nation one day before the Senate will render a verdict in his impeachment trial, an issue that has further divided Congress and the nation. Many House Democratic women are wearing white as both a form of protest and to honor the women's suffrage movement.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, an organization comprised of members of both parties who seek to work together, is behind the bipartisan effort. It is being led by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., the co-chairs of the caucus. The group plans to wear purple scarves and ties and also sit together on the House floor during the president's address.
Before the president arrived to give his address, members of the House and Senate floated around the House chamber chatting and taking photos.
A quarter of the room was filled with House Democratic women wearing white dresses, pantsuits, and blazers. The dozens of women huddled closely, some standing on chairs in the chamber, and took a few photos.
In the center of the room, near the aisle that divides the chamber, sat a smaller group of lawmakers wearing purple ties, scarves and one even in an ascot.
- Christal Hayes
Some Republicans want Trump to avoid impeachment in speech
Republicans in both chambers are hoping the president will highlight his accomplishments and offer his vision for the country’s future. But, they do have one subject they hope he won’t talk about: Impeachment.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said if he were the president, he wouldn’t bring up the subject.
Cramer said he “wouldn’t do it” but explained that he’s “more of a traditional political strategist,” noting Trump is a different type of politician.
“I'm not going to advise the President on any of that because he's going to do whatever he wants to do,” Cramer added. “If I was writing the speech or delivering it, I wouldn't include it but I'm doing neither of those two things, and Donald Trump has been very successful being Donald Trump.”
Some Republicans were more blatant in their thoughts on the subject being part of Trump’s address.
“My advice would be that in the State of the Union he should move on,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, told Politico. His colleague Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., agreed. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for him to bring it up,” he said.
Many said they believed the president had a number of accomplishments to flaunt and they hoped he would highlight them instead.
“I hope he focuses on the great achievements economically, both domestically and abroad, fighting terrorism, taking out Soleimani and the continued efforts there,” said Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va.
- Savannah Behrmann, Christal Hayes and Nicholas Wu
Trump gets chatty with news anchors
While President Donald Trump called in a group of news anchors Tuesday to discuss the State of the Union, he was quite chatty about other topics - including John Bolton, Rush Limbaugh, the fall presidential debates, and impeachment.
Trump said he did not expect to mention impeachment during his State of the Union address, but would have more to say on the topic after the Senate renders its verdict on Wednesday afternoon.
No specific event is scheduled, and administration officials said they did not know if Trump's reaction to the verdict would involve a speech, a news conference, or some other kind of event.
Trump told the anchors he will likely participate in debates with his Democratic opponent, despite his concerns that the organizing Commission on Presidential Debates has too many "Never Trumpers," according to two people familiar with the discussion.
As for Bolton, Trump said the former national security adviser has turned on him with a book filled with false allegations. Trump said his administration is trying to block Bolton's book because it contains classified information, but he did not sound optimistic about that.
He also mocked Bolton for wanting to be referred to as "Ambassador."
- David Jackson
Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido and Limbaugh among SOTU guests
Among the list of White House guests for Tuesday is Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is wrapping up a two-week global tour as he tries to revive an unsuccessful bid to oust the country's current sitting president, Nicolas Maduro, according to a senior administration official.
Guaido appeared at a rally in Miami Saturday in his effort to shore up support in unseating the socialist leader. Nearly 60 countries - including the U.S. - have recognized Guaido as the leader of Venezuela but the Maduro government remains in power. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., shared his excitement over Guaido's appearance on Twitter Tuesday.
Excited to see @jguaido tonight at the #SOTU!
Thank you @realDonaldTrump for your continued commitment to the brave people of #Venezuela in their fight for freedom and democracy. https://t.co/HbT9zvAZdI
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) February 4, 2020
Longtime conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh is also expected to attend Tuesday's speech, a senior administration official said, a day after the 69-year-old announced he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on his radio show.
President Trump told television anchors at a private lunch ahead of tonight's speech he plans to award the conservative talk show host the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian award in the U.S.
After Monday's announcement, Trump tweeted his well wishes to Limbaugh, calling him a "great guy" and a "fantastic political talent."
-Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson
Democratic women wearing white for address
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers will strut into the House chamber this evening wearing all white in a message to the president.
“Today, we stand united to speak out against President Trump’s backwards agenda, which seeks to set our women and attack the foundation that was built by the women pioneers of this country,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., said at a press conference hours before Trump’s address.
Lawrence, who co-chairs Democratic Women's Caucus – which organized the effort to wear white – noted that the color choice was also meant to honor the women's suffrage movement that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which will be 100 years old this year.
She highlighted the women who struggled for equality throughout history and added that “the battle continues,” specifically highlighting women’s right to reproductive healthcare.
Donning white for the occasion is nothing new. House Democratic women wore all white in past years during Trump’s State of the Union addresses.
“This is a sign of women empowerment and unity,” Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y. said as she walked outside the House chamber. “It is important for everyone, including the president, to understand that we play an important role here in the Congress and elsewhere.”
Hillary Clinton also wore white when she accepted the nomination for president at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in honor of the women's suffrage movement. And Geraldine Ferraro wore white when she accepted the nomination to become the first female candidate for vice president for a major American political party at the 1984 Democratic convention.
-- Christal Hayes
What Trump's speech will outline tonight
Trump will outline his presidential victories in a national address from the same chamber where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over his impeachment less than two months ago. The speech comes a day before Trump is expected to be acquitted in the Republican-led Senate, but the tense circumstances are hardly the first of their kind in presidential history.
Former President Bill Clinton found himself in the same situation during his 1999 State of the Union address amid his ongoing impeachment crisis. The Democratic president’s Jan. 19 speech came on the same day his White House legal team laid out his defense in his Senate trial, and weeks before he was acquitted on Feb. 12, 1999.
It’s unclear if Trump will broach the elephant in the room during his remarks, entitled “the Great American Comeback,” but aides say he’ll focus on his administration’s achievements. Clinton managed to steer clear of the topic in his 78-minute speech, instead declaring “America is working again.”
Iowa caucuses updates: Iowa Democratic Party to release majority of caucuses results by 5 p.m. EST, reports say
“The promise of our future is limitless,” he told lawmakers. “But we cannot realize that promise if we allow the hum of our prosperity to lull us into complacency.”
Much like Trump, the outcome of Clinton’s impeachment was all but certain. Both presidents also saw a bump in their approval ratings and enjoyed a booming economy despite an impeachment trial looming over their presidencies.
The Republican-led Senate is set to vote on two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Wednesday.
– Courtney Subramanian
AOC, Rep. Ayanna Pressley will skip Trump's speech
Freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., announced on Twitter their plans to skip the annual State of the Union address in protest of President Donald Trump.
Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday she wouldn’t “use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”
“None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it,” she wrote.
After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.
None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it.
Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2020
Pressley also weighed in on Twitter, posting an image of her in front of the Capitol, with the caption: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution.”
“On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent,” she said.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) February 4, 2020
The two congresswomen are part of a group of young progressive Democrats known as the “Squad,” along with freshmen congresswomen Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. They were part of a wave of women elected to the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm election, two years after Trump won the presidency.
All four congresswomen have been vocal critics of Trump as well as a frequent target of the president on social media and at campaign rallies. Trump and Ocasio-Cortez tussled on Twitter in October after the president lashed out at her and other Democrats in a storm of tweets.
Live impeachment updates: Sen. Susan Collins said she'll vote to acquit Trump
After Trump referred to her as a "Wack Job," the New York congresswoman shot back: "Better than being a criminal who betrays our country."
At least five other House Democrats have said they plan to boycott the event, including Reps. Al Green, D-Texas; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.
– Courtney Subramanian
Black leaders hold 'emergency' meeting ahead of SOTU
Just hours before Trump’s address to the nation and on the eve of a Senate vote on his impeachment,hundreds of black leaders, including African American members of Congress, gathered in the U.S. Capitol for an “emergency convening’’ to talk about strategies to undo some of the president’s policies.
The National Black Leadership Summit, hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, was only steps from where Trump will give his State of the Union address later tonight.
Caucus members and civil rights leaders urged the crowd to mobilize their communities to register to vote and make sure they respond to the 2020 Census. Many warned of the impact of the administration’s policies, including reducing food assistance, under-funding the Census and pushing to restrict access to the polls.
“These are challenging times,’’ said Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, a Democrat from New York. “This is a backlash moment.”
Jeffries and Florida Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., are the first two African Americans to serve as impeachment managers.
In what at times felt like a church revival, Bishop William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign called out caucus members and others in the packed auditorium to demand action especially to help the poor.
“The coordinated coverup is a call to action,’’ Barber said to applause.
Barber urged the crowd to get 1 million organizers to register people to vote.
In addition to House members of the caucus, there were also guest appearances by Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, both of whom dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
- Deborah Barfield Berry
Gallup: Trump hits new high of 49%
WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump walks up to the dais in the House chamber for his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he will do so with some solid numbers at his back.
The president's job approval rose to 49% in a Gallup poll Thursday, the highest point since he took office in 2017. Gallup found that Trump's approval rating had climbed with both Republicans and independents.
Trump's approval overall has remained consistent through the highs and lows of his presidency, showing most Americans have largely made up their mind about Trump. The Gallup poll is one snapshot in time, but it comes at a time when Trump is enjoying several advantages.
The president, who is up for reelection in November, is expected to emerge from the impeachment trial in the Senate with an acquittal on Wednesday. The U.S. economy continues to hum, with 3.5% unemployment – the lowest since the 1960s. And Democrats were plunged into disarray a day before the president's speech when technical glitches in Iowa caused a delay in results and prompted the party's presidential candidates to abandon the state without knowing who had won the caucuses.
When President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress for his fourth time, in early 2012, Gallup pegged his approval at 45%. Obama's rating would climb to near 60% by the end of that year.
"Whether the rise in Trump's approval rating and the Republican Party's image is being driven by a backlash against impeachment, the strong economy or other factors may become clearer in the near future," Gallup wrote.
President Bill Clinton's approval also shot up during his impeachment trial, Gallup wrote. Within two months of his acquittal, Clinton's rating dipped back to pre-impeachment levels.
– John Fritze
State of the Union comes on eve of expected impeachment acquittal
Amid an impeachment trial but also a robust U.S. economy, President Donald Trump will deliver a State of the Union address Tuesday that will sound a lot like a victory lap.
The address, scheduled to kick off shortly after 9 p.m. EST, gives Trump a televised platform to tout his administration's progress in an election year. White House aides describe the theme of this year's address as "the Great American Comeback."
As in past years, the president is certain to discuss the nation's economy and 3.5% unemployment rate – the lowest number since the 1960s. He will touch on military spending, and will likely discuss the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general responsible for the deaths of many American soldiers. He is also likely to discuss immigration and a recent reduction of border apprehensions.
But the clear wildcard for the speech will be Trump's impeachment trial, which is expected to end in the president's acquittal on Wednesday. Democrats say the president abused his power when he pressured Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for foreign aid. Most Republicans acknowledge that happened, but say it doesn't rise to the level of removing the president from office.
State of the Union addresses are often partisan affairs, with members from the president's party quick to their feet with the applause and the opposition party stone faced. When Trump takes the dais this time, he will be facing 230 lawmakers – 229 Democrats and one independent – who voted at least once to impeachment him.
Talk about a tough audience.
Any mention by Trump of the impeachment will be notable.
But, aides said, don't count on it.
"I don't think so," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said during an interview on Fox & Friends. "I think that this has gone on for too long and I think that if you look at the ratings, the American people are, frankly, bored of it."
Another potential target for the president: The unexpected delay in the results of the Iowa caucuses Monday night. Candidates seeking the Democratic nomination left the Hawkeye State without knowing who had won. Trump and his aides gleefully mocked the Democrats over the hangups, calling it the "sloppiest train wreck in history."
In his past three speeches to Congress, Trump has stuck tightly to prepared remarks, eschewing the kind of off-the-cuff tangents that are a hallmark of his campaign rallies. If he does so again Tuesday, look for a speech that mostly touts his accomplishments and proposes bipartisan ideas without a specific path for achieving them.
But if he goes off script, watch out. Anything is possible.
– John Fritze
Trump guests highlight school choice, immigration
The White House is dribbling out President Donald Trump's guest list, starting with a Pennsylvania mother and daughter who highlight his call for school choice.
Stephanie Davis is "a hard working single mother who is hoping for the expansion of school choice to be able to send (daughter) Janiyah to a school that best serves her needs," the White House said in a statement.
Janiyah, a fourth grader from Philadelphia, has "for too long" been "assigned to low-performing schools," the White House added.
Last week, the administration announced two other guests: Raul Ortiz, a member of the Border Patrol recently promoted to deputy chief, and Tony Rankins, an Army veteran and recovering addict who found work doing construction as part of the administration's "opportunity zone" program.
Other guests include Raul Ortiz of Texas, a deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol; Jody Jones of California, whose brother, Rocky Jones, was shot and killed by an immigrant in the country illegally; and Kelli and Gage Hake of Oklahoma. Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake – husband of Kelli Hake and father of Gage Hake – was killed in 2008 while serving his second tour in Iraq.
– David Jackson
SOTU: By the numbers
Trump's address Tuesday is technically his third State of the Union. But it's the fourth time he has stood up before a joint session of Congress to, well, detail the state of the union. That discrepancy has plagued headline writers since President Ronald Reagan's first address in 1981, which he described as an “Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the Program for Economic Recovery."
Every president since Reagan has eschewed an official State of the Union address in their first year. After all, new presidents deliver an inaugural address right around the same time as when the State of the Union is usually given.
The Constitution requires the president "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," but there's no rule that requires the speech to be delivered in person. For decades, starting with Thomas Jefferson, the speech was delivered in writing. Jefferson said the in-person delivery smacked of the very monarchy his new nation had escaped from. But some historians think Jefferson just wasn't that great of an orator, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Woodrow Wilson revived the in-person address in 1913.
George Washington’s first annual message was the shortest such speech, at 1,089 words, according to the Congressional Research Service. Jimmy Carter’s 1981 message was the longest written message, at 33,667 words (Carter was also the last president to deliver the message in writing). Bill Clinton’s 1995 address was the longest spoken address, at 9,190 words.
Trump's speech last year (his prepared remarks) rang in at 5,196 words.
– John Fritze–
CNN excluded from briefing
In another skirmish in his long running war with the media, President Donald Trump excluded CNN from a traditional White House briefing of news anchors to preview the State of the Union address, officials said.
CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas confirmed that CNN was not invited to attend.
The White House declined to comment.
For decades, presidents have lunched with network television anchors before the State of the Union to offer a preview of the speech. The sessions are considered off the record, but details often leak out.
Though Trump has denounced CNN for years, the network's Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer attended last year's lunch with Trump without incident.
– David Jackson
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump State of the Union: Economy, immigration top themes for speech