The childish way in which President Donald Trump denied Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi the use of military planes to travel abroad during the government shutdown wasn’t just rude and hypocritical — it also compromised her safety, as well as the safety of several other lawmakers who were set to be traveling with her.
Pelosi’s travels were not publicly announced because it was a planned trip to a war zone. Typically, when members of Congress travel abroad, war zone travel is not announced ahead of time, according to reporting from the New York Times.
The delegation had been planning to travel on Thursday afternoon and had alerted the White House to their intentions well over a week ago. But following Pelosi’s suggestion on Wednesday that the president delay or cancel, or find another way to deliver, his State of the Union address, Trump apparently felt the need to retaliate against her.
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” the letter from Trump to Pelosi read.
He added, “I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” seemingly referring to her own letter earlier in the week.
Trump strikes back. After Pelosi said he would have to put of State of the Union speech, he cancels her trip to Belgium, Egypt and Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/t3kZENp6qp— Julian Borger (@julianborger) January 17, 2019
Reporting from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins seems to confirm that the Trump administration canceled Pelosi’s travels over her request to delay the State of the Union earlier in the week.
White House officials “felt caught off guard by her letter and POTUS has been frustrated by coverage, asking why it looked like Dems had upper hand” in the shutdown debate, Collins wrote in a tweet.
Were this just a regular trip for Pelosi to visit with foreign leaders, it may have been appropriate to postpone it. However, this trip had other purposes, including visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan and obtaining “critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” according to Pelosi’s chief of staff Drew Hammill, the BBC reported.
Trump made a suggestion in his letter that if the trip were that important, Pelosi could travel “commercial” if she wanted. But in exposing her travel plans, Trump put the speaker’s security at risk, bringing to light a previously unknown itinerary that was kept secretive for a reason.
Beyond being petty and dangerous, Trump’s actions are also hypocritical in two ways.
First, his denying Pelosi use of military transport is a restriction he is ordering her to follow. Pelosi’s letter to postpone the State of the Union address was a suggestion and one that Trump isn’t planning to take up. Pelosi was given no choice by Trump; Trump, meanwhile, was given advice from Pelosi, but won’t act in a manner consistent with his orders he’s just given someone else to follow.
The second way in which this is hypocritical is that Trump himself visited troops days after the shutdown began. According to reporting from CNBC, Trump took leave from the White House to see the troops in a surprise trip in December of last year after the government had already shut down on the 22nd of that month.
This entire drama that Trump has produced is ill-fitting of any commander in chief. I do not doubt that it was unpleasant for the president to have read the letter from Pelosi earlier this week, requesting he postpone his State of the Union speech. But to act in a hypocritical way, and to compromise the security and safety of fellow lawmakers, in order to retaliate against the Speaker of the House is not only a gross misuse and abuse of government resources, but also demonstrative of the monstrous lengths this president will go to in order to make himself feel vindicated.
This kind of action should not be forgotten in the days ahead, and it’s possible they warrant investigation on their own, beyond the inquiries that are already looking into Trump’s possible illegal actions while in office.
But most importantly, Americans should see, without doubts of any kind whatsoever, just what kind of person this president truly is. This isn’t leadership — it’s madness, and it should not be seen as tolerable by lawmakers in Washington nor by the citizens of this nation. They should demand Trump apologize, and he should do so at once.