Donald Trump is not taking Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to host his State of the Union address very well. Today he petulantly yanked Speaker Pelosi’s military envoy for a Congressional delegation to Afghanistan to visit the troops in a letter that can really only be described as “immature as hell.” In doing so, he also publicized the trip (being kept secret for security reasons), which prevent it from happening at all.
A codel (the name for a trip like this) to a conflict zone is typically not made public until the members arrive. They keep them under wraps for security reasons. Even if Pelosi still wanted to go, this may have been effectively blown by releasing the details now. https://t.co/oGiZWqrEf4— Kelsey Snell (@kelsey_snell) January 17, 2019
friendly reminder: the white house is staffed entirely by toddlers https://t.co/vY3mMMFyWF— Leah Greenberg (@Leahgreenb) January 17, 2019
The letter, tweeted out by Sarah Huckabee Sanders just so no one missed it, details every stop on the Speaker’s itinerary:
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.” (Basically the presidential equivalent of taking your ball and going home.) It’s worth noting that the military and the legislature are fully funded during the shutdown, so the “security” argument Pelosi used for postponing the State of the Union doesn’t really apply.
This letter reveals the secret travel plans into a war zone for one of the most high ranking officials in the US. https://t.co/Yhs4OMtkdp— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) January 17, 2019
Trump also tried to trivialize the trip as a “public relations event,” even though it’s fairly common for Congressional leaders to visit troops in the field. Trump famously refused to visit troops until almost halfway through is presidency when he had his own “public relations event” with troops in Iraq.
It's actually really revealing that Trump appears to believe the only reason an elected official would go to Afghanistan or Egypt was for PR reasons, as if it's a fun photo op instead of part of the responsibilities of governing.— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) January 17, 2019
He also told the Speaker—who is behind Pence in the presidential line of succession—that she was free to fly commercial… into an active war zone.
By publicizing that the Speaker of the House--the second in line to the Presidency--had planned travel to Afghanistan, Trump effectively made the trip impossible. There's good reason that those much farther down the line of succession don't publicize their travel to war zones. https://t.co/iL0HzowCPl— Ned Price (@nedprice) January 17, 2019
The Speaker was scheduled to leave this afternoon and it seems Trump waited his petty letter would inconvenience her the most.
My first reaction when reading this was that it was like the fake Washington Post copies circulating yesterday. No one can be this unpresidential and petty, can they? (And then I remembered who the President was.) https://t.co/b0f6SMeQvD— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) January 17, 2019
Although Trump’s relatively delayed response is also being knocked as a “jerk store” moment:
Of course, it delighted Trump’s base, who live only to “own the libs”—functioning government, national security, and everything else be damned. Erick Erickson, who pretends to be #NeverTrump even though he supports the president in everything he does, called it “the greatest letter of his presidency” (low bar) and “hilarious” (it’s not).
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried his best to align himself with Trump (who, again went on his own trip during thee shutdown).
McCarthy to us a few minutes ago: The Speaker of the House should not leave the country during a shutdown.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) January 17, 2019
Reporters: but the president left the country during the shutdown - he went to Iraq.
McCarthy: and where was Nancy Pelosi then (Hawaii)...?
Me. So ...? ??
Trump did get at least one tut-tutting from a close ally. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham wagged his finger at Trump for the immature gesture but still gave Pelosi most of the blame.
I am glad the Speaker wants to meet our troops and hear from our commanders and allies. I am very disappointed she’s playing politics with the State of the Union.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 17, 2019
Another thing worth pointing out is that this is just the latest kerfuffle over Speaker Pelosi taking military planes. John Boehner tried to shame her for using a military plane to fly back to California when she first became speaker only to get smacked down by Bush administration officials who were forced to admit the plane wasn’t her idea and was, in fact, for security reasons.