President Donald Trump retaliated against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a public letter Thursday, postponing a previously secret trip the speaker was set to take to Afghanistan, in response to her decision to cancel the State of the Union on January 29.
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,” Trump wrote. “In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
The letter continued, “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.”
WH fires back on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's letter over State of the Union. pic.twitter.com/UF1Xsv6y4L
— Sam Levine (@srl) January 17, 2019
If Pelosi wanted to make the trip by flying commercial, Trump said, “that would certainly be [her] prerogative.”
“I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receive the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves!” the letter concluded.
Since the start of the shutdown on December 21, Trump himself has secretly traveled to Iraq, as well as Texas and Louisiana.
Pelosi’s trip had been kept under wraps due to security concerns, and she had reportedly been scheduled to leave for the trip at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday. Trump’s letter was released publicly a little after 2:00 p.m.
As several reporters have since noted, the letter revealed the confidential war-zone travel plans of one of the highest ranking government officials in the country, effectively exposing her to potential security threats. It was not immediately clear whether Pelosi would continue on with her trip, flying commercial.
Third in line to the presidency, specifically. https://t.co/EfHJM7Xpte
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) January 17, 2019
Fox News reported that that the reason for postponing the trip was because Trump did not want Pelosi out of the country next Tuesday at midnight, when the next government pay period happens.
In response to the letter, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Thursday afternoon that the purpose of the trip had been “to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”
He added that the trip had never included a stop in Egypt, and said the stop in Brussels was in fact “a required stop…for pilot rest.”
Trump’s letter comes one day after Pelosi sent a letter of her own, functionally canceling the State of the Union Address.
“Sadly,” Pelosi wrote, “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 address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.”
The government has been partially shut down for 27 days, as of Thursday, constituting the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Trump and his Republican allies have so far refused to budge on their request for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border, and Democrats have pointedly said they will not acquiesce to that demand, choosing instead to pass several House bills that would fund most government agencies through September and the Department of Homeland Security through February.
An estimated 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working without pay, missing out on about $2 billion worth of paychecks every two weeks the shutdown continues. Many have begun filing unemployment claims or taken out loans to cover their monthly expenses.
Among other issues, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), upon which more than 19 million families rely, is on the verge of running out of funding, National Parks are being vandalized and trash and toilets are running over as the parks are without staff, and the FDA has also stopped routine inspections of some food, including seafood, fruits, and vegetables.