President Donald Trump claimed on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “broke the law” by ripping up a copy of his State of the Union speech earlier this week.
“Well I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech,” Trump told reporters.
“First of all, it’s an official document,” he claimed. “You’re not allowed. It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.”
“I thought it was very disrespectful to the chamber and to the country,” he continued, adding that he “didn’t know she did it until I was walking out and some of the congressmen and women were saying, ‘Can you believe what she did?’”
Trump on Pelosi ripping up his State of the Union speech: “First of all, it’s an official document, you’re not allowed, it’s illegal what she did. She broke the law." pic.twitter.com/cOOKJzGvdu
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 7, 2020
Pelosi ripped up a copy of the lie-filled speech behind President Trump at the end of the State of the Union, Tuesday.
Right-wing GOP commentators — including Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk — argued that the Speaker’s actions were illegal and punishable by up to the three years in prison, but these claims were quickly debunked.
According to Law & Crime’s Colin Kalmbacher:
“Trump handed Pelosi a copy of the speech. He didn’t file this copy with any official—clerk or otherwise—whose job it is to make sure such documents are collected, recorded and physically and legally protected. The president gave Pelosi a copy of his address as a memento of sorts. This action wasn’t an official deposit. It was an act of theater.”
“Pelosi responded with her own bit of theater in turn. The action was purely performative just as Trump’s gifting of the controversial speech was itself a performative action. Nothing official happened here one way or another and certainly no laws were broken by the speaker.”
Speaking to reporters during her weekly press conference, Pelosi said the president looked “a little sedated” when he didn’t shake her hand.
“I extended a hand of friendship to him, to welcome him as the president of the United States to the People’s House. It was also an act of kindness because it looked to me like he was a little sedated. He looked that way last year too,” Pelosi told reporters. “But, he didn’t want to shake hands. That meant nothing to me and it had nothing to do with my tearing up [his speech], that came much later.”
“He has shredded the truth in his speech. He’s shredding the constitution in his conduct. I shredded his state of his mind address,” Pelosi said in response to a question about her decision to rip up a copy of the president’s speech.