Trump and Pelosi Exchange Snubs at the State of the Union Address

He declined to shake her outstretched hand. She omitted his ceremonial introduction and ripped up her copy of his speech.

President Trump declined to shake the hand of Speaker Nancy Pelosi before his State of the Union Address. The speaker then omitted the customary laudatory words from her introduction of him. After his address, she ripped up her copy of his speech.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday night, the State of the Union was hostile.

The mutual snubbing began the moment Mr. Trump walked into the House chamber and continued until he finished speaking, when Ms. Pelosi stood, an expression of vague disgust on her face, and tore up her printed copy of his speech — in full view of the television cameras, while Mr. Trump had his back turned.

The interaction between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi, who had led the drive to impeach him, was one of the most anticipated moments of the president’s appearance at the Capitol the night before the Senate is expected to acquit him in his impeachment trial. The two had not seen each other since October, when Ms. Pelosi abruptly left a White House meeting after lecturing a scowling Mr. Trump.

On Tuesday night, the sour dynamic was on display from the start. When Mr. Trump stepped up to the rostrum in the House of Representatives and handed her his speech, Ms. Pelosi rose and extended her hand to shake his. Mr. Trump turned his back, and the speaker quickly withdrew her hand, appearing to shrug slightly and raise her eyebrows as if to say, “Well, I tried.”

Then Ms. Pelosi dealt Mr. Trump a slight of her own by omitting the customary laudatory words in her introduction of the president. Normally, she would have said, “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.”

But it was the flourish at the end — when Ms. Pelosi made a point of picking up her copy of the speech, ripping it in half and throwing the pieces on the table in front of her — that grabbed the attention of the public and drew the ire of Republicans. The gesture was particularly out of character for the speaker, who prides herself on exhibiting proper decorum.

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About Cholo Brooks 11661 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.