WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she felt “liberated” as she lashed out at President Donald Trump for the “falsehoods” she said he had spread in his State of the Union address and defended her decision to tear up a copy of his speech.
“I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference, referring to the moment on Tuesday when she ripped up a copy of Trump’s address to the nation once he finished speaking.
“It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, ‘This is not true, and this is how it affects you,'” she said. “And I don’t need any lessons from anybody — especially the president of the United States — about dignity.”
The president misrepresented a number of things, the speaker said, falsely claiming that he and Republicans have protected people with pre-existing conditions and taking credit for the economic progress during his presidency, which Pelosi said was a result of President Barack Obama’s policies.
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Pelosi added that it was “entirely appropriate” for her to tear up the speech, and said, “considering some of the other exuberances … [it was] the courteous thing to do.” She also called it a “dignified act.”
The House speaker said she has tried to be “gracious” with Trump throughout his presidency.
“I feel very liberated. I feel very liberated. I have extended every possible courtesy,” she said. “I’ve shown every level of respect.”
Pelosi said that she had extended a “hand of friendship” to the president as he stepped up to the House chamber’s dais on Tuesday to welcome him — but he did not take her hand.
“It was also an act of kindness,” she said, “Because he looked to me like he was a little sedated. He looked like that last year.”
Pelosi said the president’s decision to not shake her hand had nothing to do with her later ripping up his speech. She said she is a speed-reader, and once she got through the first quarter or third of the address, “I started to think there has to be something that clearly indicates to the American people that this is not the truth.”
“He has shredded the truth in his speech, he shredded the Constitution in his conduct, I shredded his state of his mind address,” she said before walking away from the podium, ending the news conference.
Pelosi’s remarks come a day after the GOP-led Senate voted to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment adopted by the House in December. He was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election while withholding U.S. aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.
Even before Trump’s impeachment, tensions between him and Pelosi had escalated significantly. In October, she and other Democratic leaders walked out of a White House meeting with Trump during which Pelosi said the president had a “meltdown.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the Democrat’s characterization of the meeting, saying Trump “was measured, factual and decisive.”
Earlier in the year, Pelosi said that Trump threw a “temper tantrum” and “stormed out” of the room when he held a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on infrastructure. Trump said at the time that he would only work with Democrats if they stopped investigating him.