Trump stalls Nancy Pelosi’s international trip as feud over shutdown worsens
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday stopped House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi from using a military plane for an overseas trip, in a tit for tat after the Democratic leader’s suggestion he postpone the State of the Union address during the partial government shutdown.
Republican Trump told Pelosi in a letter that her trip to Belgium, Egypt and Afghanistan, which he derided as a “public relations event,” would be postponed, citing the shutdown that has entered its 27th day.
It was not clear what trip Trump was referring to. Lawmakers often do not publicize foreign trips before they occur for security reasons, particularly when the trips involve a war zone as in this case.
“Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Trump’s letter said.
WATCH: Trump tells Pelosi her overseas trip postponed amid shutdown
Trump told Pelosi she could make the trip by flying commercial.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, responded soon after saying the weekend’s trip did not include a stop in Egypt.
“The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” Hammill said on Twitter.
“This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt.”
Hammill added that Trump has previously flown to Iraq during a government shutdown.
The U.S. House Speaker normally uses a military plane for overseas travel and it was on that basis that Trump, as commander in chief, appeared to be acting.
WATCH: Citing strain on security, Pelosi asks Trump to postpone the State of the Union address
“He postponed her ability to use military air,” which must be approved by the Department of Defense, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
On Wednesday, Pelosi had written to Trump suggesting he postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union address because of security concerns during the shutdown.
The government has been partially shut since Dec. 22, in a standoff triggered by Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats oppose.
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Presidents traditionally deliver the nationally televised annual address, which lays out the administration’s goals for the year, in the House of Representatives chamber before a joint session of Congress and the majority of the Cabinet.
Pelosi said earlier on Thursday that she had not received a response from the White House, and Trump did not respond to the suggestion in the letter.
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Trump’s action drew criticism from one of his Republican allies in the Senate.
“One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter. He criticized Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union as “blatantly political” but said, “President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”
— With files from Global News reporter Maham Abedi
© 2019 Reuters