The Latest: Michigan Gov. Whitmer delivers response to Trump

Politics

The flag flies outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of President Donald Trump delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on the president’s State of the Union speech (all times local):

11:25 p.m.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has used Democrats’ response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to swivel from impeachment to working-class voters’ worries, saying her party is focusing on easing health care costs and other pocketbook concerns.

Whitmer mentioned Trump’s impeachment trial only briefly near the end of her nearly 11-minute speech Tuesday night. She sprinkled in passing references to his behavior, such as “Bullying people on Twitter doesn’t fix bridges — it burns them.”

But she spent the bulk of her address touting Democratic efforts on health care and people’s struggles to pay their bills, issued that helped her party win House control in 2018.

“It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away,” Whitmer said from East Lansing High School.

Her remarks were overshadowed by an extraordinary gesture moments earlier by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Seated directly behind Trump in the House chamber, Pelosi marked the end of his address by theatrically tearing her copy of his remarks in half.

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11:15 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says President Donald Trump must think the American people are “gullible” to believe his health care pledge in his State of the Union speech.

Sanders spoke Tuesday night from Manchester, New Hampshire, not long after Trump wrapped up his address at the U.S. Capitol.

The Vermont senator seized on the Republican president’s vow to protect the health insurance coverage of people with preexisting conditions.

“Really? How gullible do you think the American people are?” Sanders said, noting that the Trump administration and a Republican-led Congress came within one vote of repealing the Obama administration’s health care law. The law largely prevents private insurers from denying coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

Sanders is among the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in the general election in November. He is campaigning in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 11.

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11:05 p.m.

The White House and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign are lashing out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up the president’s State of the Union speech.

No sooner did Trump finish his address Tuesday night than Pelosi tore it in two, right on the dais behind him. The president had appeared to snub the House speaker before his speech when she extended her hand to him, and he turned back around without acknowledging it.

Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump’s reelection team, responded: “She might as well rip up any plans for attracting independent voters. Pelosi and the Democrats sat on their hands through all of the good news for Americans in that speech. It’s a sad place to be when good news for America is bad news for Democrats.”

The White House accused Pelosi of disrespecting Trump’s guests of honor by ripping up the speech. “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 White House tweeted.

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10:45 p.m.

And then she tore up the speech.

No sooner did President Donald Trump finish his State of the Union address than House Speaker Pelosi ripped it in two.

Right there, on the dais behind him.

Trump was barely done, turning to greet the crowd of lawmakers Tuesday night, when Pelosi, without a moment’s delay, turned the papers in her hand.

And she ripped.

And then she took some more pages.

And she ripped again.

Asked afterward in the halls of the Capitol why she did it, Pelosi responded: “It was the courteous thing to do.” She added: “It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”

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10:40 p.m.

Among the made-for-TV moments in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech: The military husband of one of Trump’s guests returned home from deployment and surprised his family.

Amy Williams, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was in attendance Tuesday night with her two children, 6-year-old Elliana and 3-year-old Rowan. Trump told the crowd that Williams works full time and volunteers helping military families. Over the past seven months, her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams has been deployed to Afghanistan, his fourth trip to the Middle East.

Trump thanked her, then told her he had a surprise: Her husband had returned from deployment and was at the Capitol. Sgt. Williams walked down the stairs in his uniform to greet a shocked Amy Williams, and he hugged his children. He then hugged his wife.

Trump delivered the address Tuesday amid his impeachment trial. He spoke about the gains he says his administration has made, but he did not mention the impeachment.

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10:25 p.m.

A protester has interrupted President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech by shouting at him to do something about gun violence.

The protester appeared to be Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was among 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Guttenberg is a well-known visitor to Capitol Hill advocating for gun violence prevention. He interrupted a section of Trump’s speech about support for the Second Amendment, and he was removed from the House visitors’ gallery.

Guttenberg was the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. He tweeted his thanks to her earlier Tuesday for the invitation and her “commitment”to “dealing with gun violence.”

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10 p.m.

When President Donald Trump called on Congress during his State of the Union speech to send him legislation to lower prescription drug prices, House Democrats had a ready response.

“H.R. 3! H.R. 3!” chanted Democrats, jumping to their feet Tuesday night, holding up three fingers.

That was a reference to the House-passed bill that requires the federal government’s Medicare program to negotiate for lower prices on insulin and other must-have drugs Americans rely on.

The legislation is formally named the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, after the late House Oversight Committee chairman from Maryland.

Trump derided the ailing Cummings’ Baltimore-area district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” last summer, when the chairman was conducting oversight on the president’s immigration policies and child and family detentions at the border.

The drug price reduction bill was passed by the House in December on a largely party-line vote. It is one of many major bills sitting untouched in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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9:55 p.m.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Donald Trump announced the award during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. First lady Melania Trump presented the award to Limbaugh. The two sat next to each other in the House visitors’ gallery. A bearded Limbaugh stood and saluted President Trump as the award was announced.

Limbaugh, a staunch Trump supporter, announced Monday that he is battling advanced lung cancer.

Trump said the diagnosis was not good news, but added: “What is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”

Trump thanked Limbaugh for “decades of tireless devotion to our country” and said the award recognized the millions of people a day Limbaugh speaks to and inspires, as well as his charity work.

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9:40 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó helped usher in a rare moment of unity at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Democrats and Republicans applauded Tuesday night as Guaidó stood as Trump called him the legitimate president of the South American nation.

Guaidó is the leader of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela. He was a last-minute surprise invited guest of Trump’s.

The U.S. and more than 50 other nations believe the 2018 reelection of President Nicolás Maduro was illegitimate and say Guaidó should be considered president under the Venezuelan constitution. Trump in his speech called Maduro a “tyrant.”

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9:25 p.m.

The White House says Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is the designated survivor for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union.

The designation refers to the practice of ensuring that one Cabinet secretary does not attend the annual speech in case of a national emergency or devastating tragedy.

The designated survivor would lead the government if other officials are killed or incapacitated.

Bernhardt was named interior secretary last year, replacing Ryan Zinke, who resigned.

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9:20 p.m.

Did President Donald Trump decline to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand?

At the start of the State of the Union address Tuesday it appeared that Pelosi extended her hand to Trump, a gesture amid the divisive impeachment proceedings.

The president was presenting folios to Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived for the evening speech when it appears she reached for the shake. At the same time, Trump turned away from her to face the audience of lawmakers gathered for the annual address.

Pelosi gave a look.

The speaker led House Democrats in impeaching Trump last month on charges he abused power and obstructed Congress in the Ukraine matter. The Senate is poised to acquit him Wednesday of the two articles of impeachment.

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9:15 p.m.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is an honored guest of President Donald Trump’s for his State of the Union address.

Limbaugh was seated next to first lady Melania Trump in the congressional gallery for Tuesday’s speech. He has been a steadfast supporter of President Trump and his policies over the years.

Limbaugh announced on his nationally televised radio program on Monday that he is battling advanced lung cancer.

According to multiple news reports, Trump informed news anchors earlier Tuesday that he will bestow Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the coming months. That is the highest civilian honor in the nation.

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9:05 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is attending President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.

The invitation comes as Guaidó has been trying to win face time with Trump, his most important international ally. Guaidó’s visit to Miami on Saturday rounded out a two-week world tour that took him first to Colombia, then across Europe and Canada, where he held meetings seeking more international help to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office.

Venezuela has been a top priority in Latin America for the Trump administration, which a year ago was the first among 60 governments to throw its weight behind Guaidó.

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8:35 p.m.

The House is lit for television ahead of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, and members of Congress are showing off their priorities.

Many Democratic women are wearing white Tuesday to align themselves with suffragettes a century after women won the right to vote. Some also are wearing green Equal Rights Amendment pins ahead of an expected House vote on the issue this month. Look, too, for red-white-and-blue-striped lapel pins to highlight climate change.

Many Republicans got to the chamber early to snag aisle seats. The coveted positions allow them to shake hands on camera with the president as he makes his way down the aisle. This year, Trump is speaking on the eve of his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress when dealing with Ukraine.

The acquittal vote will resolve impeachment in Congress, but voters will have the final say this election year. Every member of the House, a third of the Senate and Trump himself are up for reelection.

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8:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump will tell the American people that the country has achieved a “Great American Comeback” in his State of the Union address.

That’s according to early excerpts released by the White House on Tuesday, shortly before the president was scheduled to travel across Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol for the address.

The speech comes after the president became the third in the nation’s history to be impeached and as his trial is still underway. But he will make the case that, despite the division, the country is better off now than four years ago and that he has kept his election promises as he makes his pitch to voters in an election year.

Trump says he will lay out a vision “where every citizen can join in America’s unparalleled success” and touch on issues including the economy, education, health care, trade and national defense.

He plans to say, “We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”

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7:55 p.m.

Two prominent House Democratic freshmen are boycotting President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech over his conduct.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who are both front and center as members of “the Squad,” said hours before the address Tuesday that they’re skipping it.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she would “not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”

Pressley, meanwhile, said she’s boycotting because Trump “consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution.”

Other “Squad” members — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — were expected to attend the joint session of Congress.

The four freshmen are all congresswomen of color, and they voted to impeach Trump. They have been labeled “The Squad” in part for their criticism of Trump, and the president frequently rails against them.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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