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Rep. Gaetz files ethics complaint against Pelosi for ripping up Trump’s SOTU speech

Left: Speaker Nancy Pelosi rips up Pres. Trump's State of the Union speech. (USA TODAY/statesman/TNS) | Right: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican who represents Northwest Florida, greets an attendee at a Republican Club of Daytona Beach. (News-Journal/Mark Harper/TNS)
February 06, 2020

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz filed an ethics complaint against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday due to her ripping up President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

“Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071). Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable,” Gaetz said in a Wednesday night tweet accompanied by a copy of the complaint.

The complaint expands on the particular law that he alleges Pelosi may have violated, noting a three-year prison term for “whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys … any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office.”

The complaint was sent to Rep. Theodore Deutch and Rep. Kenny Marchant, the top members of the House Committee on Ethics.

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Trump had handed Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence a copy of the speech before he began. At the conclusion of his speech, Pelosi stood and immediately ripped it apart.

Trump’s address touted improvements in the American economy, manufacturing industries, and foreign trade deals, recognized several Americans for their heroics and hardships, denounced socialism and terrorism, and called on Congress to pass bills that would benefit Americans.

Ahead of the speech, Pelosi did not introduce Trump with the “high honor” that is traditionally mentioned when introducing a president before a State of the Union speech. Afterward, Pelosi extended her hand toward Trump for a handshake, which he did not accept, possibly because he did not see the invitation.

Pelosi called Trump’s speech a “manifesto of mistruths” in a statement released after the speech ended.

A reporter confronted Pelosi after the scene, asking her, “Why did you rip the speech up, Madam Speaker?” Pelosi replied, “Because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”

Trump also retweeted a Tuesday night tweet from the White House which took aim at Pelosi’s actions.

“Speaker Pelosi just ripped up: One of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The survival of a child born at 21 weeks. The mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller. A service member’s reunion with his family. That’s her legacy,” the tweet said.