In a stunning moment at the end of President Trump’s State of the Union address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deliberately picked up half the pages of the speech he had just delivered and ripped them in half as she stood behind him.
Then, she repeated the motion with the other half of the pages, holding them in front of her and tossing the pieces back on the dais, while Mr. Trump stood in front of her, receiving the applause of Republicans in the House chamber.
Reporters who were uncertain that she had actually ripped up the speech asked Pelosi about it as she exited the chamber.
“I tore it up,” she replied. “I was trying to find one page of truth on there.” When asked why she had ripped it up, she responded, “It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”
The White House later responded with a scathing tweet: “Speaker Pelosi just ripped up: One of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The survival of a child born at 21 weeks. The mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller. A service member’s reunion with his family. That’s her legacy.”
Her action capped an evening of clear ill will between the president and the speaker. The tension began when Mr. Trump approached the podium and appeared to ignore Pelosi when she offered her hand to him before he began speaking.
After the speech, Pelosi tweeted a photo of Mr. Trump looking past her extended hand and wrote, “Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople. We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot.”
When Pelosi introduced Mr. Trump, she left out the customary phrase, “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of” introducing the president of the United States, and simply introduced him as “the president of the United States.” A top Pelosi aide, when asked if he had any guidance on why Pelosi had omitted those words, told CBS News, “nope.”
Pelosi also made her displeasure with the president obvious during his address. When Mr. Trump complained that “over 130 legislators in this chamber have endorsed legislation that would bankrupt our nation by providing free taxpayer-funded healthcare to millions of illegal aliens,” she mouthed “not true.”
Pelosi’s actions seem to be a departure from what she generally demands of her own caucus: That they maintain decorum. Just a month and a half ago, she dramatically shushed Democrats who grew too vocal on the House floor following the vote to impeach Mr. Trump.
Kathryn Watson, Nancy Cordes, Alan He, Grace Segers and Steven Portnoy contributed to this report.