The tension between President Donald Trump and Democratic lawmakers was on full display during his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday. On the eve of Trump’s likely acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, the president set the tone by appearing to ignore House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to shake his hand. The night ended dramatically, with Pelosi ripping up a copy of Trump’s speech in view of the cameras.
The Senate is poised to acquit Trump on Wednesday of two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote comes at the end of a four-month battle between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over whether Trump withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to announce investigations into his political rivals, and whether such conduct is impeachable.
Not once during his speech did Trump mention the impeachment proceedings. Instead, his address touted the country’s economy, as well as his efforts to combat terrorism around the world and reduce immigration at the Southern border.
Here are five moments from the State of the Union:
Trump doesn’t shake Pelosi’s hand
After handing a copy of his speech to Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump turned away from the House speaker’s outstretched hand.
Trump has regularly criticized Pelosi, particularly for her role in theHouse inquiry that led to his impeachment. In recent days, Pelosi has suggested the House could take further action against the president if the Senate votes to acquit him Wednesday, as expected.
Trump praises Juan Guaidó
In a surprise move, Trump brought Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to the Capitol as a State of the Union guest. The United States and more than 50 other countries have recognized Guaidó as the president of Venezuela, declaring the 2018 reelection of President Nicolás Maduro illegitimate.
In his speech, Trump criticized Maduro as a “tyrant” before welcoming Guaidó as “a very brave man.”
“Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó,” Trump said. “Mr. President, please take this message back: that all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.”
The remark received bipartisan applause.
Democrats chant for drug costs bill that died in Senate
Trump touted a decline in some prescription drug costs under his administration, then called on lawmakers to work together to address drug pricing “quickly and properly.”
“Get a bill on my desk and I will sign it into law immediately,” the president said.
His comment sparked shouts from Democratic lawmakers who chanted “H.R. 3” in reference to the “Lower Drug Costs Now Act,” championed by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. The measure passed in the House but died in the Senate. Among other provisions, the legislation would have required the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate prices for certain drugs.
Rush Limbaugh receives Medal of Freedom
In another surprise move, Trump awarded conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh has been a close ally and longtime defender of the president. On Monday, Limbaugh announced that he is beginning treatment for lung cancer.
“Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Trump said to Limbaugh as First Lady Melania Trump gave Limbaugh the medal on Trump’s behalf. “In recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Pelosi rips up Trump’s speech
At the end of Trump’s address, Pelosi — sitting behind the president during his speech — stood and ripped the copy of Trump’s speech in half.
As she left the House chamber, the speaker told reporters tearing up the speech was “the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”