House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first actions at the start of the new session of Congress was to invite President Donald Trump to deliver the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 29.
However, in what can only be described as a petty display of partisanship, she sent Trump a letter on Jan. 16 which sought to cancel and postpone that scheduled address until the partial government shutdown had concluded.
Pelosi cited “security” concerns which were immediately debunked by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Secret Service, in conjunction with the Capitol Police.
The president never offered up any direct response to that “power play” by Pelosi, until today. He sent a letter to Pelosi accepting her initial invitation and letting her know that he intends to deliver his State of the Union address as previously scheduled on Jan. 29 in the House chamber.
That letter from Trump addressed to “Madame Speaker” — shared to Twitter by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders — was absolutely classic Trump, dripping with saccharine sweetness while directly countering the supposed security concerns cited by Pelosi.
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“Thank you for your letter of January 3, 2019, sent to me long after the Shutdown began, inviting me to address the Nation on January 29th as to the State of the Union,” Trump wrote. “As you know, I had already accepted your kind invitation, however, I then received another letter from you dated January 16, 2019, wherein you expressed concerns regarding security during the State of the Union Address due to the Shutdown.”
“Even prior to asking, I was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service to explain that there would be absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event. They have since confirmed this publicly,” he continued, undercutting Pelosi’s reasoning for a cancellation or delay to the annual address.
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“Accordingly, there are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union Address,” he went on. “Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of our Union.”
“I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives,” he wrote in conclusion. “It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”
Trump seized the upper hand in the power struggle with Pelosi by a sort of “kill them with kindness” approach that was no doubt quite unexpected by the Speaker and her Democratic supporters, who have been impatiently waiting for some sort of “temper tantrum” from the White House in response to her petty actions.
Instead, he used a kind tone to gently debunk her proffered excuse for why the State of the Union address should be rescheduled and confirmed that he intended to follow through on the originally agreed upon date of Jan. 29.
Of course, Pelosi was quick to respond to Trump’s letter with one of her own, though her attempt to match his sincerity and sweetness fell short.
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In Pelosi’s letter to Trump, she wrote of how she expected the shutdown to have already ended when she initially invited him to deliver his speech on Jan. 29, and clung to her insistence that the address needed to be rescheduled for an as-yet-undetermined date in the future … after the government had been re-opened.
Then she went further than she had gone before and officially informed Trump that the scheduled State of the Union address was canceled.
“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened,” she wrote.
“Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened.”
It remains to be seen what Trump will do now that Pelosi has officially rescinded her prior invitation to him, but regardless of what he ultimately decides to do, Pelosi looks like the bad guy in all of this for having offered and then pettily withdrawn a customary invitation for the constitutionally-mandated address to Congress and the nation.
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