House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) explained why she tore up a copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech after he delivered it to both chambers of Congress on Tuesday night.
The move has drawn criticism from a number of conservatives, Republicans in Congress, and Vice President Mike Pence. Pelosi confirmed in interviews with reporters afterward why she tore it up.
Pelosi told reporters that she tore up the speech because “it was a manifesto of untruths.”
The moment came during a time of considerable tension between Pelosi and the president, just weeks after House Democrats voted to impeach Trump. Pelosi and the president reportedly haven’t met in several months.
“The manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page of the address tonight should be a call to action for everyone who expects truth from the President and policies worthy of his office and the American people. The American people expect and deserve a President to have integrity and respect for the aspirations for their children,” she said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
Pelosi stood up and clapped when Trump spoke of the need to take down Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro while introducing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who stood in the gallery. She also stood up and clapped when Trump spoke about infrastructure spending.
According to her statement, Americans are most concerned with the state of health care in the United States, but Trump in his speech, she claimed “gave no comfort to the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions or the families struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need.”
In his speech, Trump said that 130 lawmakers have endorsed legislation that “would bankrupt our nation by providing free taxpayer-funded health care to millions of illegal aliens,” and 132 lawmakers “have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health care system.”
Pence, who sat next to Pelosi on the dais behind Trump, told Fox News that he “didn’t see her do it; I found out just a few moments later.” He said the move was “a new low” and “beneath the dignity of a joint session of Congress.”
“The contrast here was a president who spent an hour and a half making a speech about America,” Pence remarked, adding that Pelosi’s actions were symbolic of the resistance against Trump. He stressed that “the American people see through it” Pelosi’s move to tear up the speech.
“I think what [Americans] got last night was a speech that lifted up the country” and “celebrated the incredible progress that we’ve made in our economy [and] rebuilding or military,” Pence said. “I just know it was a great blessing to people all across America,” he added.
Pence echoed claims that were made by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other prominent Republicans in Congress.
The House Speaker’s office has not responded to a request for comment following Pence’s Wednesday morning remarks.