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Nancy Pelosi defends speech-ripping as protesting ‘falsehoods’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday defended her speech-ripping performance after President Donald Trump's State of the Union address and took fresh aim at his fitness for office even as he celebrated his impeachment acquittal.

“That was not a State of the Union,” Pelosi said. “That was his state of mind.”

She reaffirmed her shredding of Trump's speech at the end of a difficult week for Democrats in Congress and across the nation that included the botched Iowa caucuses on Monday, Trump's prime-time address Tuesday and his Senate acquittal on two impeachment articles on Wednesday. Pelosi led the impeachment process in the House.

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Only a few hours before her news conference, Trump held up a banner newspaper headline that said, “Acquittal.” Pelosi was also in attendance for the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and she called his behavior “inappropriate.”

Back in the Capitol, Pelosi again went after Trump's speech and defended her decision to rip up her copy behind his back, on camera, saying the address revealed "a state of mind that had no contact with reality whatsoever.”

“I've extended every possible courtesy. I've shown every level of respect,” Pelosi said, describing her public conduct, which included “extending the hand of friendship” to him as Trump arrived. “He looked a little sedated,” she said.

He did not take her hand.

As he spoke, Pelosi said, she quickly read ahead through her copy of the speech. “I saw the compilation of falsehoods.” About one-third of the way through, she said she started to think, “There has to be something that clearly indicates to the American people that this is not the truth.”

And she decided to shred.

“He has shredded the truth in his speech, shredded the Constitution in his conduct. I shredded the address,” she said. “Thank you all very much.”

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