Trump Still Planning State of Union 01/23 06:13
The White House is moving forward with plans for President Donald Trump to
deliver his State of the Union speech next week in front of a joint session of
Congress -- despite a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting he
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is moving forward with plans for
President Donald Trump to deliver his State of the Union speech next week in
front of a joint session of Congress --- despite a letter from House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi requesting he delay it.
The White House sent an email to the House sergeant-at-arms asking to
schedule a walk-through in anticipation of a Jan. 29 address, according to a
White House official who was not authorized to discuss the planning by name and
spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Nancy Pelosi made the invitation to the president on the State of the
Union. He accepted," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "At
this point, we're moving forward."
The move is the latest in a game of political brinksmanship between Trump
and the House Speaker as they remain locked in an increasingly personal
standoff over Trump's demand for border wall funding that has forced a partial
government shutdown that is now in its second month.
The gamesmanship began last week when Pelosi sent a letter to Trump
suggesting that he either deliver the speech in writing or postpone it until
after the partial government shutdown is resolved, citing security concerns.
But the White House maintains Pelosi never formally rescinded her invitation,
and is, in essence, calling her bluff.
"She has not canceled it. She asked us to postpone it," White House
spokesman Hogan Gidley said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel.
"We have no announcement at this time," he said, "but Nancy Pelosi does not
dictate to the president when he will or will not have a conversation with the
At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans
to give Trump a backup in case the joint-session plans fall through. The
president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both
chambers' explicit permission. A resolution needs to be agreed to by both
chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the
Officials have been considering a list of potential alternative venues,
including a rally-style event, an Oval office address--- as Pelosi previously
suggested --- a speech before the Senate chamber, and even a return visit to
the U.S.-Mexico border as Trump is expected to continue to hammer the need for
a barrier, according to two others familiar with the discussions.
Multiple versions are also being drafted to suit the final venue.
The Constitution states only that the president "shall from time to time
give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," meaning the
president can speak anywhere he chooses or give his update in writing. But a
joint address in the House chamber, in front of lawmakers from both parties,
the Supreme Court justices and invited guests, provides the kind of grand
backdrop that is hard to mimic and that this president, especially, enjoys.
Still, North Carolina's House Speaker Tim Moore wrote a letter inviting
Trump to deliver the speech in the North Carolina House chamber. And Michigan
House Speaker Lee Chatfield on Friday invited Trump to deliver the address at
the state Capitol in Lansing instead.
Trump called Moore Monday evening, according to his office, and spoke by
phone with Chatfield Tuesday morning, Chatfield tweeted.
"I understand you have other plans for #SOTU, but as we discussed, I look
forward to hosting you in Michigan again soon," Chatfield wrote.
Pelosi in her letter had cited the impact of the ongoing shutdown on the
Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service, questioning
whether they could secure the speech given that they have been operating
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen responded by assuring that DHS
and Secret Service were "fully prepared to support and secure the State of the
Asked about the letter by reporters Tuesday, Pelosi did not address the
White House's decision, saying only: "We just want people to get paid for their
Senior White House staff had been in a morning huddle discussing the
upcoming speech when news of Pelosi's letter first broke on TV. The power play
--- which Trump countered by revoking Pelosi's use of a military aircraft,
thereby canceling a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan --- had put
the status of the marquee speech in limbo, leaving staff scrambling to figure
out how to proceed.
"We'll keep you posted," Sanders had told reporters when asked for a status
In their standoff, Trump has also accused Pelosi of behaving "irrationally,"
while Pelosi has refused to negotiate with Trump on border funding until he
agrees to reopen the government.
In a tweet Sunday, Trump wrote that he was "still thinking about the State
of the Union speech" and that there were "so many options - including doing it
as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem),
and my written acceptance."
"While a contract is a contract," he wrote, "I'll get back to you soon!"