It was the snub seen around the country — and in Democrats’ view, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union only went downhill from there.
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended her hand just before the start of Trump’s address, the president quickly pivoted and turned his back, leaving the speaker hanging.
Not to be outdone, the normally restrained Pelosi put on a show herself as Trump’s speech wrapped. Standing behind the president, she meticulously ripped up page after page of the speech, while Trump and other Republicans cheered the end of an address that mostly catered to hardcore GOP partisans.
“It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative,” Pelosi told reporters as she exited the chamber. Later as she left the Capitol, she added: “It was a manifesto of mistruths.”
A source close to the speaker said the moment was not planned. But the two bookends — the snub and the tear — perfectly encapsulate the growing chill that has defined the Trump-Pelosi relationship. Pelosi and Trump hadn’t spoken in months, and their encounter Tuesday night was the first time they were face to face since Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry.
The whole episode at the annual address left many befuddled members, who said the feuding captured the spectacle the president created on Tuesday night.
“I suppose it’s all part of the reality-show State of the Union address that we just experienced,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) mused as he left the chamber.
“That was a 2020 campaign rally, that was not a State of the Union,” added Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), calling it a “disgrace. … I regret stepping one foot inside.”
Even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has chided his Democratic colleagues for being too partisan during Trump’s addresses said that the snub of Pelosi’s handshake was “awful.”