President Trump claimed Friday that it was illegal for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tear up his State of the Union speech.
‘She broke the law,’ Trump told reporters gathered outside the White House as he left on a day trip to North Carolina. ‘It’s an official document, you’re not allowed, it’s illegal what she did.’
Trump was repeating claims made by political allies Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization for young people, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, who asked the leaders of the House Ethics Committee Wednesday night to launch an investigation in Pelosi’s behavior.
After Trump concluded his State of the Union address in front of the House chamber Tuesday night, Pelosi could be seen ripping the pages to shreds behind his back.
Politifact already rated claims that what Pelosi did was illegal as ‘pants on fire’ wrong.
Experts told the fact-checker that Pelosi did not violate the law because her copy of the president’s speech wasn’t technically a government record.
‘Her copy of the State of the Union address is not a government record or goverment property at all,’ Douglas Cox, a professor of law at the City of New York University of Law told Politifact. ‘It is personal property.’
Trump also called what Pelosi did ‘terrible.’
‘I thought it was very disrespectful to the chamber, to the country,’ Trump went on. ‘I got very high marks on the speech,’ he added.
The president said he was made aware of Pelosi’s stunt before he had even left the room.
‘I didn’t know that she did it until I was walking out and some of the congressmen and women were saying “can you believe what she did?”‘ the president said.
The president was also asked, post-impeachment acquittal, if he’d be able to work with Congressional Democrats to get anything done.
‘Well, I think there’s a lot of evil on that side,’ he responded. ‘They’ve gone crazy. They’ve gone totally crazy, it’s too bad.’
At the same time, Trump contended that he did work with Democrats. ‘I work with everybody,’ he added.
‘That group is – they say Trump Derangement Syndrome. They’ve got it,’ Trump said.
He then turned his focus back to Pelosi and the torn pages of his speech.
‘So disrespectful of our country and very illegal what she did,’ Trump said.
During an appearance on Fox News Channel earlier this week Gaetz, a Florida Republican, made many of the same points as he previewed the letter he planned to send to Rep. Ted Deutch, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and Rep. Kenny Marchant, the GOP’s ranking member.
‘She disgraced the House of Representatives, she embarrassed our country and she destroyed official records – the law does not allow the speaker of the House to destroy the records of the House,’ Gaetz said on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News Channel show. ‘And the rules of the House do not permit some little temper tantrum just because you don’t like what the president of the United States says.’
Late Wednesday night, Gaetz tweeted a copy of the letter he sent to where he calls Pelosi’s actions ‘deeply offensive’ while claiming she broke a U.S. code that prohibits officials from destroying government records.
During Gaetz’s appearance, Ingraham cast doubt on his argument that Pelosi was a law-breaker.
The Fox News Channel host did buy another point Gaetz made – that there was a double standard.
‘And you know what, a lot of Republicans are sick of the double standard here,’ Gaetz said.
The Florida Republican reminded the Fox audience of the ‘excited utterance’ made in September 2009 by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson when President Obama was addressing a joint session of Congress on the topic of healthcare.
Wilson shouted ‘You lie!’ at the Democratic president – a shocking outburst at the time.
‘The Democrats really brought the heat down on him when he said Obama lied about illegals getting healthcare,’ Gaetz said, adding that he agreed with Wilson’s sentiment.
On Thursday, Pelosi defended ripping up the speech by pointing out what she saw as a double standard.
‘It is OK to start saying “four more years!” in the House of Representatives?’ she asked reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill. ‘It’s just unheard of.’
Republicans had started the chant during their time in the House chamber Tuesday night.
Pelosi had been asked if her actions went against what she preached – to react to the president with respect.
She said they did not.
‘I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,’ she told reporters.
‘It’s necessary to get the attention of the American people and say: “This is not true. And this is how it affects you.” And I don’t need any lessons from anybody – especially the President of the United States – about dignity,’ the California Democrat added.
Trump spent Thursday going after Pelosi – knocking her, without saying her name, at the National Prayer Breakfast, before calling her a ‘vicious, horrible person’ during an East Room speech where he celebrated his impeachment acquittal.
As for Gaetz, Trump made it clear he supported the Florida lawmaker.
‘He’s solid as a rock,’ the president said at the White House Thursday afternoon.
Gaetz was one of the invited members of Congress, all Republican, to hear Trump’s impeachment acquittal speech.
‘Great job,’ Trump told the congressman.