Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi suggested postponing the State of the Union until after the shutdown, citing security concerns. President Trump did not take this well. Today, he published a letter to Pelosi, cancelling her planned trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan, according to The Hill.
In the letter, Trump calls the trip a “public relations event.”
“We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over,” Trump wrote, in the style of a pissed off 10 year old. “I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the shutdown.”
Trump will refuse to provide military transportation to Pelosi’s delegation, which prevents them from traveling into war zones in Afghanistan.
Trump added that if Pelosi wanted to go ahead with her trip by taking a commercial flight, “that would certainly be your prerogative.”
Later today, Trump also cancelled a U.S. delegation trip to the Davos conference.
“If she had gone on this trip, she would have guaranteed that 800,000 federal workers would not receive their second paycheck because she would not have been here to negotiate any kind of deal,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Hill.
This is, of course, ridiculous. Prior to the shutdown, Congress had reached a deal that provided $1.6 billion for border security. Trump, however, demanded the full $5 billion for his beloved border wall, spurring the partial government shutdown. Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a Democratic proposal that would have reopened most of the government.
Pelosi’s trip would have included meetings with NATO officials in Brussels and a visit to troops serving in Afghanistan.
“The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesperson, said in a statement. Hammill noted that Trump himself made an unannounced visit to troops in Iraq during the shutdown.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer criticized Trump’s ridiculous tantrum.
“It demeans the presidency. It demeans the office, because it’s so petty,” Hoyer told reporters.
Even stalwart Trump defender Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to cancel Pelosi’s trip “to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO.”
“One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Graham said in a statement. He described Pelosi’s threat to delay the State of the Union “very irresponsible and blatantly political.”
The difference here is that Trump caused the shutdown in the first place, while Pelosi is just trying to end it. Cancelling the State of the Union is a good move, one of the few things Pelosi could do that manages to grab Trump’s ego-centric attention. Whatever Sanders or Graham say, both sides are not on equal footing here.
CORRECTION: This post previously contained a sentence about Trump’s “veto” of the previous funding bill agreed upon by the Senate and House at the end of 2018. That bill never reached his desk, because he said he would not sign a bill that didn’t provide $5 billion for the wall. Another sentence about Mitch McConnell’s refusal to sign off on a new deal to reopen the government has also been reworded. We regret the errors.