White House Announces Trump’s 11 Guests for State of the Union

February 4, 2020 Updated: February 4, 2020
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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced the president’s guests for the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday night, which includes military veterans, a Border Patrol agent, and a former Venezuelan police chief who was held in detention.

Eleven guests will attend the speech, according to a statement from the White House on Tuesday, and each individual’s story will be highlighted by Trump during his address.

They include Oklahoma mother Kelli Hake and her son Gage. Hake’s husband was killed while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq after a roadside bomb went off. The White House said that the bomb was supplied by forces loyal to Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S.-authorized drone strike last month.

The president will also invite Stephanie and Janiyah Davis from Philadelphia. Janiyah’s mother, “Stephanie, is a hardworking single mother who tried to apply for a tax credit scholarship. But due to Pennsylvania’s governor recently vetoing school choice legislation, Janiyah remained among the estimated 50,000 students on a waitlist,” according to the statement.

Jody Jones from Farmersville, California, was also invited by the Trump administration after his brother, Rocky, was killed in 2018 by an illegal immigrant, who carried out a “brutal murder” after having been arrested and deported, the statement said.

Paul Morrow of Alabama, a U.S. Army veteran, started building a concrete plant in Montgomery, which will help support stationed F-35 fighter planes. He will also be in attendance.

Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz of Texas was invited because, according to the White House, he has “helped protect America’s homeland for nearly three decades.”

A former U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Tony Rankins of Cincinnati, will be touted by Trump as a success story after he became addicted to drugs and served several prison sentences before getting back on his feet. “Today, he works in an Opportunity Zone in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his new job has helped him overcome drug addiction and reunite with his family,” said the statement.

A Kansas City toddler, Ellie Schneider, and her mother, Robin, are slated to attend after she beat the odds and survived despite being born at just 21 weeks, said the White House.

The former chief of police of Caracas, Venezuela, was invited by the White House. Ivan Simonovis was jailed in 2004 for protecting protesters and was held in prison by Venezuela’s socialist Chavez and Maduro governments for 15 years. He escaped in 2019 and made it to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was welcomed by immigration agents.

As the impeachment trial of Trump has essentially wrapped up with a final vote set for Wednesday, Trump is widely expected to tout the burgeoning U.S. economy, the killings of Soleimani and former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the recently passed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and a variety of other reforms.

A spokesman for the White House, Hogan Gidley, told Fox News that the word “impeachment” is not in Trump’s pending speech. Although, it’s not exactly clear if Trump will make a reference to the inquiry and trial that started late last year. On Twitter and elsewhere, Trump has often referred to the congressional proceedings as a “hoax,” “sham,” and “witch hunt” without mentioning impeachment.