So much for speech: Trump on hot mic says he’ll release memo
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scenes from the Capitol on a night of pomp, pageantry and politics for the State of the Union address:
Talk about stepping on one’s message.
Schmoozing in the House chamber after delivering his maiden State of the Union speech, a hot mic caught President Donald Trump telling a Republican lawmaker that he was “100 percent” in favor of making public a classified Republican intelligence memo. That was further than the White House had gone on the matter and not something Trump had said during the hour-plus speech he had finished moments earlier.
In the C-SPAN video, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., urged Trump to release the memo. Trump, with a microphone nearby, can be heard saying, “Don’t worry, 100 percent.”
The White House had said earlier Tuesday that it would conduct a legal and national security review before Trump decides whether to release the memo. It has sparked a political fight pitting Republicans against the FBI and the Department of Justice.
It’s not a question that typically needs asking. But yes, the White House says, Melania Trump rode back from the Capitol in the same car as her husband, President Donald Trump, after his State of the Union speech.
That wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
The first lady had not been seen in public with her husband since the Wall Street Journal reported that lawyers for Trump paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about what the porn star said was an affair with the future president. Daniels said in a statement Tuesday that the affair she had described never happened.
The couple’s 13th anniversary passed without public comment. And Mrs. Trump abruptly canceled her trip with the president to Davos, Switzerland, for an economic summit.
Mrs. Trump traveled separately from her husband to the Capitol for the address. Her aide said she had held receptions at both places for the guests seated with her for the speech.
The president began his speech by acknowledging “the first lady” along with other congressional leaders. Mrs. Trump did not visibly react.
It wasn’t the longest State of the Union address. That designation still goes to former President Bill Clinton.
But an hour and 20 minutes of President Donald Trump talking Tuesday was plenty long enough for House Democrats. Just before Trump finished, their leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, made eye contact with Rep. Joe Crowley of New York and pointed toward the back of the House chamber.
Democrats followed their lead and made an unusually quick beeline for the exits.
Earlier, Pelosi had warned House Democrats not to leave the chamber mid-speech.
Trump’s first State of the Union address clocked in at about eight minutes shorter than the final such address by Clinton.
They could all agree to support 12-year-old Preston Sharp and his project to plant flags on the graves of veterans. But it was a different story when President Donald Trump used that good deed to scold athletes, ahead of the Super Bowl, who kneel during the national anthem.
Members of Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court and assorted guests applauded Trump’s shout-out to Preston, who noticed that not every grave was decorated with a flag at the California veterans’ cemetery where his grandfather was buried. He started collecting donations and, two years later, had decorated 23,000 graves.
“Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance,” Trump said during his speech, drawing applause.
But the mood changed when the president added: ”... and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
GOP lawmakers erupted in applause. Democrats were far more muted.
Trump was a leading critic of NFL players, predominantly African-American, during last fall’s protests. Vice President Mike Pence abruptly left an Indianapolis Colts game after almost two dozen members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Their leader, Nancy Pelosi, warned Democrats to behave during Trump’s address and “let the attention be on his slobbering self.” The president didn’t slobber.
Some Democrats couldn’t hold back, especially when Trump mentioned immigration issues.
“Oh, c’mon,” Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., audibly enough to be heard in the gallery overhead, as Trump mentioned open borders, letting in drugs and gangs.
They laughed out loud when Trump cast his immigration proposal as a down-the-middle compromise.
And they groaned when Trump spoke of ending “chain migration.”
Pelosi extended her hands to try to quiet her colleagues.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., strolled through the Capitol before the speech with a guest who was attracting more attention than he was.
Tall and sporting a ponytail was Jayson Werth, an outfielder who played the last several years for the local Washington Nationals. Werth said he has an organic farm in Davis’ district.
Asked if he was a Trump supporter, Werth said he was a moderate.
“I’m just spreading my wings a little bit,” he said.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly and Alan Fram contributed to this report.
Follow Kellman on Twitter at www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman