President Donald Trump refused to shake House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand at the start of his third State of the Union address on Tuesday, which came almost two months after his impeachment.
Pelosi reached out to shake the president’s hand, and Trump snubbed her. The House Speaker looked somewhat surprised and bemused as he walked away to begin his address, which came on the eve of Trump’s expected acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial.
The animosity between Trump and Pelosi, and relatedly between Democrats and Republicans, was in many ways the biggest theme of the night as the president delivered his address on Tuesday.
At the end of Trump’s speech, Pelosi ripped up a transcript of the address. When asked by a reporter why she tore up the speech, Pelosi said, “Because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.”
The president and Pelosi have long had a contentious relationship, but his impeachment exacerbated tensions and Trump in recent weeks has gone after the House Speaker via Twitter.
Less than a week before Tuesday’s speech, for example, Trump tweeted : “Nancy Pelosi wants Congress to take away authority Presidents use to stand up to other countries and defend AMERICANS. Stand with your Commander in Chiefs!”
The president was tweeting in relation to House votes on measures aimed at limiting his ability to launch a war against Iran. Trump’s decision on January 3 to order a drone strike that killed Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani, has raised fears of a broader conflict between Washington and Tehran.
Trump became only the second president in US history, following Bill Clinton, to deliver a State of the Union address after being impeached.
Though he was impeached relatively recently and his Senate trial is not yet over, the president just earned the highest approval ratings of his tenure thus far, according to a newly released Gallup poll.
49% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, while 50% of disapprove, the poll found.