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Can Nancy Pelosi Really Stop Trump From Delivering the State of the Union?

The president wrote on Wednesday that he still plans to deliver the address from the Capitol despite being uninvited by the House speaker

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President Trump isn’t ready to let Nancy Pelosi prevent from delivering the State of the Union address at the Capitol next week.

On Wednesday morning, the president sent a letter to the House speaker clarifying his intention to address the nation as planned. “I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives,” Trump wrote. “It would be very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule and very importantly, on location!”

The address was called into question last week, when Pelosi uninvited Trump from delivering it in the chamber over which she presides. She cited the government shutdown, now in its fifth week, as her reasoning. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote.

Trump responded in Trumpian fashion, writing a petty letter informing Pelosi that he was canceling a congressional delegation she had been scheduled to lead through Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan. “I’m sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” the president wrote. “I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”

Pelosi’s trip to Afghanistan had previously not been made public, and Trump’s letter forced the State Department to call it off, for fear of endangering the safety of the House speaker and her counterparts. “You never give advance notice of going into a battle area, you just never do it,” Pelosi told reporters. “Perhaps the president’s inexperience didn’t have him understand that protocol. The people around him, though, should have known that, because that’s very dangerous.”

It’s unclear what will happen next Tuesday if Trump shows up at the Capitol. The House and Senate must agree to hold a joint session of Congress for the president to be able to speak, meaning it is very much up to Pelosi whether Trump will deliver the address in the Capitol. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told reporters that the House has no plans to allow him to speak.

“It’s absolutely not clear what his present intention is,” Jeffries told reporters on Wednesday. “But I can say that unless the government is reopened, it’s highly unlikely that the State of the Union is going to take place on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.”

Later Wednesday, Pelosi responded to Trump’s letter with a letter of her own, doubling down on her earlier rhetoric: “I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened.”

Trump responded shortly thereafter, telling reporters, “I’m not surprised.”

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